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Alumni Profile: Shelley Cussen (WCLP '10)

18 August 2011 By Stefan Grun

Shelley Cussen
Shelley Cussen

Shelley Cussen, Group Manager People and Capability at SP AusNet and WCLP ’10 Alumni, talks to LV about her leadership values…

Being a good leader ultimately comes down to self-awareness.   Everyone has their strengths and weakness but having self-awareness means you can build the best team around you. The ultimate aim is collaborative leadership. I don’t think one leader can be all things to all people – it’s not possible – but when you identify your own strengths and weaknesses you can complement these with the right people for the team.  A good leader will build the strongest team which will get the best outcome. 

There isn’t one leader out there who I think is perfect, we are all flawed and fabulous.  Some of the people I admire most are individuals who would not call themselves leaders; they are often just ordinary people with a passion and strong values that you can relate to.   

I love what I do. I love human resources. I can do what I do in most companies, because most have an HR department, but what I can’t take with me are the people I work with.  They are a down-to-earth bunch who love what they do.  They really are excited about Gas and Electricity and it is inspiring.

Good leadership requires common sense. Life is not black and white, it’s so grey! So if you can apply a bit of a test: “Does that make sense to me?”  “How do I feel about that?” If you can put yourself in others shoes in order to make a better decision, you will get a better outcome at the end of the day.

The community aspect attracted me to LV’s Williamson Community Leadership Program.  I’ve done a lot of reading on leadership and lots of studies revealed good leaders had a well-rounded balance in life.  I had done a little bit of community work in the past but it wasn’t something that I had strong links to, so I recognized this might be a good learning experience.

When you work in the corporate world your whole career, all you know is the corporate world.  By putting yourself in unfamiliar situations you open your eyes and look through a different lens.  It makes your decision making more holistic because you’re taking more into consideration and your mind is broadened.  You make better decisions.

Working with the Victorian Youth Mentoring Alliance broadened my knowledge of that sector and the challenges of a not-for-profit organisation.  Knowing you’ve added value to them is a really rewarding aspect, as well as knowing you can add value to that sector, and that they really appreciate it.

The relationships you make through LV and WCLP are fantastic. My WCLP group has met at least 5 times this year and we have plans to continue our catch-ups into the future – no doubt about that! 

It was a really good network for females.  I work in a male-dominated industry and you don’t come across a lot of good role models that are female.  WCLP has been great in that aspect; you can just pick up the phone and pick someone’s brain.

I did a lot of thinking, and wanted to focus on the local community.  Therefore I joined the Edge Community Fund, which supports kids suffering hardship around the general area where I live; getting them into kindergarten, joining local soccer groups etc.  I have also got involved with SP AusNet’s corporate sponsorship committee: a group of employees working out how we can best give our money to the community and create strategic partnerships.