Life goes on

It sure does whether we feel ready for it or not. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Besides starting a new job in a new organisation, I’ve been busy these past two weekends with extended family events making the most of things before the new school term starts, including a 6km fun run along the main Yarra trail yesterday with the Ivanhoe Harriers. I was the back marker for the handicap race so I’m not exactly setting the world on fire in terms of speed and I hadn’t run in two weeks so I’ve been feeling it today.

So how is the new job going? I’m lucky to have once again landed in a high performing team in marketing communications with a great boss, which makes all the difference as a newbie. I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy – it is always challenging starting work in a new organisation, whatever the role, adapting to a new environment with a different culture and people and one which has also gone through a lot of change since the global pandemic. At the moment, I’m just trying to roll with things, be kind to myself and give myself time to adjust to a new normal.

I’m a pretty outgoing person so have enjoyed meeting my new colleagues at the ANZSOG head office in Carlton but I expect to feel a level of discomfort for a while as I get my head around things. Digital technology aside, it’s a much more select and senior alumni cohort of leaders in the public sector (and those aspiring to be) who I will be liaising with including an established Alumni Advisory Council.

Assembly Store cafe in Carlton

My first day involved finding a good cafe with great coffee and I wasn’t disappointed in discovering hole-in-the wall cafe Assembly (pictured above) in Pelham Street before I arrived at the office. No easing into it with one of my first tasks being asked to organise an event in Adelaide the following week and along with now looking after the ANZSOG alumni council as a priority, I will need to develop the alumni strategy with the help of my new manager in tandem with ongoing activities so ‘strategy on the run’.

I haven’t mentioned my Women of Colour Australia volunteer work but glad I developed the content strategy for them while I had the time before starting paid work. Similar to that organisation, the most important thing in my current role is understanding the audience – who they are, what they do, where they’re located etc. and while demographic data helps – it’s more hearts and minds stuff that interests me. At the end of the day, we are all individual human beings with different things that motivate and inspire us and that’s what I’m seeking to understand.

I’ve had a bit of deja vu starting my new job reminding me of when I moved from Marketing and Recruitment to the Alumni and Advancement Office at La Trobe, as we will shortly be moving from our existing site to a brand new building around the corner and I’ll post more about that once the launch is officially announced. It’s always exciting to move into a newly kitted out building and as I will now be working a minimum three days in the office, it’s something to look forward to as it has also been a shock leaving the comfort and convenience of working from home.

It’s been great to see jobs bouncing back across the country although I think younger people will continue to need support. Higher education and other industries like tourism, retail, hospitality and real estate will also need help as the return of international students to Melbourne is delayed. I know a family of allied health workers where one parent has received the Pfizer vaccine and the other Astra Zeneca and they’ve been comparing notes on side effects. For those under 50, it may be a while before vaccinations are rolled out and I hope time brings some greater insights and learnings.

Given the grim news about the global COVID-19 death toll reaching over 3 million people (more than Western Australia’s entire population), it’s felt slightly surreal to drive past our local footy ovals this past weekend seeing players and spectators out in force. We are incredibly lucky in Australia living in our protected little bubble with a recovering economy and roaring real estate market, as much as I don’t think it’s reflective of ‘normal’ times although I guess nothing is truly normal at the moment and won’t be for a while to come.

My solace continues to be my weekly yoga practice as well as pet therapy as a dog owner and I thought you might like this photo of me (above) doing ‘doga’ with Gypsy – she likes to take advantage of my inability to move while practising and my resting pose on my yoga mat last week was no exception – it was like having sandbags placed across my legs! Have a great week especially if you’re a parent with children returning to school for term 2.


Play on

As the global economy continues its state of free fall, it’s been hard to let go and accept what is has brought. It has been a somewhat grim week ending with disrupted Anzac Day celebrations where our thoughts have been with those who fought for us in the past and those fighting for us now – all frontline workers including the four police officers so tragically killed on the Eastern freeway. There is a local fundraising event Run Rosanna for Vic Police on Saturday 2 May if you are in a position to give.

Me at the Ivanhoe Harriers 6km handicap last month before the shutdown

Speaking of which, I have gone cap in hand this week personally asking a number of alumni to donate to the La Trobe Student Crisis Appeal which ends on 30 April – I am hopeful of reaching our $550k target given there’s less than $30k to go. While I generally work in the volunteering space asking alumni to only give back their time and talent, this week I have asked for treasure in the form of money and have had success, so maybe yet I will make a fundraiser.

More seriously, depending on what happens with the higher education sector and any kind of government support (none of which looks forthcoming at this stage) – stand downs and redundancies may be on their way and it has given me pause for thought regarding what next if need be – potentially a return to study if Mr Rosanna can hold on to his job. While I have previously seen my long term future in this sector (and in Alumni Relations and Advancement), Covid-19 has completely turned many of us on our heads as the jobs and security we knew and took for granted are carried away into the ether. Unfortunately, more pain lies ahead but it has given me a chance to practise equanimity and live in the present, which I get to unwrap each day and enjoy with grace and good humour.

Despite the physical restrictions of now, there is freedom of thought and no-one can take away your values or dignity in the words of Asylum Seeker Resource Centre CEO and La Trobe alumnus Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM – who made such a powerful speech and impression on me at one of last year’s graduations ceremonies. We have all been forced to pivot and innovate and perhaps be re-born on the other side of this pandemic. The planet and wildlife – our creatures in the sea and sky and on the earth – are being given a chance to re-generate and renew and my hope is we move to a more sustainable existence as restrictions slowly end in time. We are still in such a position of great privilege compared with many of our overseas counterparts and I think this time of living a simple life in this make or break year has made many of us question – how much is enough and how much do we really need in order to be happy?

Like my current Director, I am a fan of many sporting analogies including quotes sprouted by past AFL football coaches along the lines of no matter where the game is – just do something, do anything but continue to play on and worry about the inputs not the outcomes, which will take care of themselves. I hope like me, no matter what your current circumstances are, you will continue to play on in the game of life and be happy now.