About regional vs city and a comfortable pair of Connies – it’s a THING!

For the most part of this year I have purposefully branched out to attend seminars and workshops in cities across Australia. Innovation and progression are two very important pillars of GSL’s ongoing reputation as trusted and respected provider in a regional area.

Attending external learning provides opportunities for listening, observing and networking on trends, market directions and generally a good view in, to how organisations and industry leaders are considering their own growth and keeping in pace with ongoing demands and requirements of our sector.

Of course, this has set me completely out of my comfort zone and made me realise yet again how I am SO not your typical / standard CEO. My preference is very definitely hands on and immersed in business so there I was in my trusted and comfortable, worn in pair of Connies and jeans among beautifully coiffed industry leaders from large Cities. It didn’t matter though. I got exactly what I went for. Leads on innovation and practicalities in a sector known far and wide for its sometimes archaic requirements which has the potential to stifle any form of creativity in business if we aren’t alert to and clever about it. But so much more than that. Throughout the most recent seminar I attended in Brisbane, I had confirmation that GSL is on the right track as regards systems, workflows and innovation in comparison to industry giants. Dare I say – a little bit of a market leader in how we do things?

I’m sure you will agree!

As I was waiting to board my flight back to Cairns though, I couldn’t help but ponder a little wider and a little deeper. About GSL’s history and where it all began. In one of Lyndsey’s very early blog’s she elaborated on how her and Rudolf observed a need for families, children and young people living with disability to experience the same quality services living in beautiful, regional Cairns they would be able to rely on had they lived in a larger city like Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne or Sydney. This observation resulted in the birth of GSL: a Good Start to Life in 2011.

When I joined GSL in 2012, this mission is what attracted me the most. Being a small town girl myself (Port Elizabeth – South Africa) it really resonated with me, so I joined in! Over the years we have stuck to that mission and have mirrored it in everything we do and plan. I feel strongly that this is exactly the type of thing that ensures our families return time and time again.

A little bit like the comfortable, worn in pair of Connies I mentioned above.

Back to post flight pondering. My thoughts extended to the clear differences in starting up a business in a regional town vs in a big city. I would imagine that the considerations would be quite unique, as would all factors inputting into the business in those early years. Being a people person naturally my thoughts extended then to, well, people. The teams and staff we have attracted over the years. Those that have joined our mission, that have excelled in themselves whilst immersing in our mission and living true to it.

Recently the owner of the house Hein and I have been renting for the past 7 years unfortunately passed away. This necessitated some interactions with her daughter, the new owner of the house, as she is extending her stay in Cairns to wrap up her Mum’s affairs. Last night we met to discuss a few repairs required around the house and she commented on how lovely it was to be ‘up here’ – she’s a Sydney girl. She commented on how laid back and ‘calm’ things were in Cairns and how one naturally relaxes up here purely just by immersing in community and spending time with local people.

Those are all good things, but it was her comment about Cairns people that really struck me. The home repairs necessitated some purchases from our local Bunnings and Coles stores and she raved about the friendliness of the staff, how helpful and attentive they were and how very different the overall customer experience was compared to what it would’ve been in Sydney where she is from.

I liked hearing that. A lot! It resonated with me yet again that, when I have my sleeves rolled up working alongside our teams in GSL, that is exactly how I feel every day. Supported, positive and surrounded by friendly, hardworking and committed people.

But, surely you’ve had a few hiccups along the way – I hear you ask? Hiccups? More like life threatening suffocation's – I muse. Did it stifle our innovation? Absolutely not! Did it damage your trust in good people? No, never! Did we continue expanding our local teams? Oh yes, absolutely!

Do I feel surrounded by clever, reliable and committed people? Every-single-day!

The dream of offering local families living with disability the same quality, consistent, innovative, clever and tailored services they would expect in a large City live on today and will for many years to come.

Regional service excellence delivered by regional people in an excellent way, whilst we are wearing our comfortable, worn in Connies!

Onward and forward we go!

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