With over 20 years’ experience as a management level professional, Jo Bright has worked with companies such as Orica, The University of Newcastle, the Catholic Education Office, Fairfax, Australian Federal Government and now at Evolution Advisers.
Jo’s strengths include the ability to create strategic alliances with organisation leaders, to effectively align and support their initiatives. She has a love of connecting people which allows her to build and retain mutually beneficial partnerships and relationships. Her qualifications in high performing areas and a love for making a real difference within the workplace and the community have enabled Jo to assist others to succeed in business and in life.
Jo is also the 2016 President of the Newcastle Business Club and CEO of the Lake Macquarie Foundation, both volunteer roles that allow Jo to incorporate philanthropy and the development of business relationships into her life.
- Could you tell us a little about your career path?
My career path has been an interesting one, a little bit turbulent along the way but one I’m probably more proud of now as I am probably nearing towards the end, although I’d like to work for another 15 years or so. It’s been stop and start and I think that is one of the lessons that I’ve learnt along the way is that you shouldn’t be frightened of taking some time out now and again and re-grouping and even having a change of career.
So I started off with a definite force, I knew what I wanted to do and probably got there a little bit too quickly and then I decided to take a detour along the way. I worked for some fantastic organisations and probably it has taken 20 years on for me to realise just how lucky I was and how lucky I was to be put in some really great leadership roles really early on in my career. Particularly in places like the Herald who gave me a real chance and promoted me quite quickly to a management role and I really enjoyed it, but on reflection it was probably too quick and I wish I could go back and do a lot of it again now.
- What do you believe has shaped your leadership style?
I think learning to be myself. A wise man a long, long time ago said very early on to me your best quality is when you are yourself and you are authentic and I think a lot of us get caught up in image and how we should be and talk a lot about being different in the corporate world to how we might be outside of work. I think and hope most people will tell you if they talk to you about me I’m exactly the same when I am at work as what I am outside of work.
It’s authenticity that I am really passionate it about and I really believe in it and so I try to be as authentic as I can even though it is not always easy, but I’ve definitely learnt that throughout time and I think a lot of that comes with just believing in your own ability and being passionate about what you are working towards or what you are working with.
- What were some of the challenges you faced as President of the Newcastle Business Club in 2016?
Let’s roll back the clock and let me start again and I’m sure I could do a much better job now having moved into the seat and learnt along the way. The challenges were definitely even in this day and age that I really felt the fact that I was a female in an historical club and people often commented on my choice of speakers or different comments that I made along the way. I just spoke about being authentic and I’ve really tried to be myself when I was in that position and just spoke naturally. You would know that I very, very often forgot my notes or just didn’t stick to the brief because I got too busy talking. But I learnt along the way to sit back and listen at times.
It’s a really strong committee and there are a lot of strong people there and we’re doing great work I believe in binding Newcastle business together. So the lessons I’ve learnt again are just to smile, be patient and to learn to collaborate a lot better.
- What motivates and drives you?
I’d love to see what some of my friends and family would say about that! Honestly, it’s just that I am definitely a glass half full person and I do enjoy just waking up each morning. You only get one shot at life and you have got to make the best of it. Don’t sweat the small stuff, just get over it. I can hear people cringing and I can hear others laughing and if they’re watching this they will say she definitely sweats the small stuff but I do in an important sort of way.
I am driven for perfection and that can really be a curse. I often say at work, particularly to my employers that it has its pluses and its minuses, but I’m just definitely driven everyday by fitting in as much as I can. Anyone who knows me well will know that I do that.
- What local businessperson do you find inspiring?
It is hard to pick – Newcastle is full of inspiring people and I think one of the problems is that I might find different sections of what they do inspiring but I don’t really know the person.
So without rattling off the list I might be inspired by what they actually brought to the city or what they contribute, people like Keith Stronach who is not afraid to go out there and develop our city, I’ve always admired that.
But as an all-rounder, as a person, I would have to say that I admire Katie Brassil. Katie is of course the Executive General Manager External Affairs for Centennial Coal. She actually employed me in my job with Joel Fitzgibbon and we worked together many, many years ago, 16 years ago actually, but Katie is who she is and I love the way she is just an all-rounder, she is so passionate about giving to causes. She is very philanthropic and so I do admire her a lot.