Tracey Henderson loves her work!

D'oh! I've been doing this series for a while, and completely overlooked the fact that I LOVE my work. So, with a little spare time, I recently interviewed myself - let's see what I've got to say ...

What is it that you do exactly?
Most of my work involves talking with people about their current work and career goals, and helping them figure out what they need to do in order to reach the hopes they have for themselves. This might be a complete career change, or skilling up for a promotion or organisational move, or even improving the quality of their communication so they feel more confident in their existing roles. As well as one on one work, I do a lot of career centred workshops and facilitations through my own consultancy (Curious, Interested ...) as well as for a large Career Management Group. Aligned, but different, I also consult to organisations on role structure and performance management.

What do you love about your work?
I love being appreciated and feeling that my work has purpose and meaning. After years of corporate toil, I really value the gratitude I receive from the people I work with, and the sense that what I do really helps people.

Where did you previously work?
I’ve been an employee in corporate groups, including AMP and Suncorp, where I did a lot of HR and project related work as well as client management. I moved into Career Management a few years ago, initially in outplacement. While I was establishing myself as an independent consultant, I did some HR Recruitment. That was a terrifically educative experience -  I worked with Amanda Webb, who introduced me to some excellent approaches to professional development.   

My career is almost exclusively grounded in working with people and managing relationships. I’m not hugely strategic and definitely not operational – but I’m perceptive and genuinely interested in people and their motivations.

What was your first ever job?
Thursday night/Saturday mornings at Myer then after I left school, an office junior wrangling a sylvester switchboard for Email Finance.

Can you remember what you wanted to be ‘when you grew up’?
A physiotherapist – solely because I liked the sound of the word ‘physiotherapist’. A bit later, I wanted to write advertising copy for orange juice – no idea what was behind that idea.

What does your work week look like?
Often, all over the place, but currently quite structured. I have fairly focused 2-3 days a week on an extended assignment, supporting a company's employees to develop their medium/long term career plans. Thursday mornings is ethics teaching to a combined years 3/4 class at a local primary school and I try to carve out a couple of visits to mum during the week. The rest of the time I juggle whatever needs to be done: clients calls, agency consulting, redundancy counselling, research, interviews, workshop preparation and reporting. It all fits.

What do you wear to work?
Depends where I’m working. At home it's super, super casual and with clients it's professional, but not too structured.

Are clothes important in the workplace?
Yes - I am by nature casual, however we all make judgments (and project impressions) about credibility, personality and professionalism based on dress and grooming.

What is your standout proudest career moment?
It was a while ago, but long-term happy making! My colleagues at AMP quietly nominated me for a company award, based on a redeployment program I’d established. Whilst the award was lovely, what I sincerely valued was that my team rated me enough to make the time and collective effort to go through the nomination process. It was, and remains, incredibly validating.

If you had the possibility to go back and change anything in your career, would you?
I would have done my degree much earlier. I think not doing it in my 20’s affected my early career confidence (and options). 

Is there anyone whose career you really admire?
Judy Fitzgerald! She’s a demon for setting medium and long-term goals and then doing all the work it takes to achieve them. If you ever want to see the magic of vision boarding, her life exemplifies their power. Jude is my inspiration, role model, ethical touchstone and all round great chick. She’s also happens to be the International Coaching Federation’s 2015 coach of the year. Read an interview I did with Judy here. I really admire people who have the commitment and tenacity to make the impossible possible.


Another woman I have deep admiration for is Mum. She finished school at 14, trained as a nurse, rose to become the Intensive Care Unit Manager in a large public hospital, then when she saw her reflexes were slowing down, retrained in HR and continued to work in the hospital system. She also did Uni qualifications later in life. She was the breadwinner, a genuinely loving and patient mother but managed to have her own life as well. Along with Dad, she raised my sisters and I to be quite independent.

Do you have a mentor?
I have a small tribe of mentors:  ‘go to’ people who provide support, industry and network insights, next wave thinking and ‘ethicists’ who help me navigate nutty moral challenges.

How do you unwind?
Walking, swimming, being with friends, reading or flopping on the lounge with an Apple device.

What do you want to do next in your career/business?
Seriously, I feel like I am living the life divine, doing exactly what I love right now.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you do now?
I resist contemplating that question.

What do you want more of in your career right now?
I love doing programs that build community (eg within an organisation or amongst professions or job search groups). I do a fair bit of it now, and I’d like to do more.

And less of?
Reporting … I should talk with Siri about alternatives.

What is one word that describes you as a child?

If you knew me really well, you’d know …
I really know how to work and I really know how to drop my bones.

What kind of impact do you think you have on the people you work with?
People feel listened to, and once that happens they’re generally prepared to trust me.

What are you like to work with when you’re stressed?
Quiet and difficult to engage

What are you like at work when you’re relaxed?
Easy going and interested

Other than work, what do you love about life right now?
Everything – approaching summer, family and friends, my gorgeous loverboy, a pile of great books to read. I love November to February – we may be working, but it feels like everyone is more relaxed.

Quick pop quiz!
Favourite song? A Case of You by Joni Mitchell, but also like Prince's version

Your favourite book? Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Favourite movie? Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (the new one)

Favourite piece of art? Kid A by Josh Morris

Favourite place? I’m just back from an awesome adventure in Turkey, so let’s just say here:

If you enjoyed reading about my career, here's a link for more interviews I've done from people who love their work.