From Receptionist to Business Owner - My Leadership Journey

Guest Writer: Kelly Gray

When I think about my leadership journey over the past 12 years, I'm reminded of the people I came across, both managers and colleagues, who helped shape my career. When I reflect on it, although I've never had a formal "mentor", I've had people in my professional life who inspired me, invested in me, and most of all believed in me.

My career started as a fresh-faced 21-year-old working as a receptionist for a not-for-profit training organisation. I was incredibly ambitious (still am!) and had my sights set on a career in marketing. I was fortunate the managers I had during this time fostered my ambition and supported me to manoeuvre myself through the organisation to create a new role for me. This was the first business development position the organisation had ever had, and I know it made the CEO at the time very nervous. I was 22-years-old and became the face of the organisation complete with a company car and mobile phone.

After a couple of years, I was promoted to a management position, leading a team of ten people and managing a business unit turning over a million dollars in Government-funded revenue at the tender age of 24. When I reflect on it, it was a lot of responsibility for someone so young and a brave move on the organisation's part. I feel grateful the leadership team at the time thought I was a safe investment and believed in my skills, knowledge and abilities.

From there I decided I wanted to help people and went to university to complete a degree in Psychology; the beginning of career #2. Yes, I'm a typical millennial! This move meant I had to start again. I became a student and was working in direct client support roles to build up my skills and experience.

After four years, I completed my degree and accepted a Consultant role with CommunityWest, cue career move #3. I didn't realise it at the time but the women I would meet over the next two years were the most influential and inspiring of my young career to date. I had the honour of working with a team of brilliant and successful women who were doing amazing work in the aged care sector in WA. It's here I met my business partner and over many conversations (and glasses of wine), My Care My Choice was born.

So now I'm on career move #4. The last six months of being a business owner and a freelance Consultant have been exciting, anxiety-provoking and downright exhausting. But I have combined my two loves of business and helping others, and feel so lucky to have had the opportunity.

Looking back, there's no way I could have achieved what I have without people who believed in me, despite my age and lack of experience. They saw my potential, and I am so grateful for that.
Looking forward, I hope one day I can help someone achieve their dreams and inspire people to be the best version of themselves.

Kelly is the Co-Founder of My Care, My Choice. She has ten years experience working in the sector, in a number of roles ranging from direct client support through to management. She is an entrepreneur who understands the current climate in the community services sector and brings a wide ranging breadth of experience, knowledge and skills to communities across Australia.