In 2013, Louise Alphonso faced redundancy but that did not stop this go-getter from picking herself up and seeking new opportunities. Today, as REA Group’s Program Manager, Louise looks after programs to support the group’s tech community. We caught up with Louise to learn about her motivations, her lessons and what makes her tick.
What do you do?
Two months ago after returning from maternity leave, I started a new role looking after programs for the technology community, including women in tech, at REA. This includes finding great talent, and other initiatives, such as learning and development, to further support our community.
Why do you do what you do?
I love helping people that’s why I gravitated to people/team management early in my career. I work towards the big picture, and I’m good at planning and enjoy building relationships. I like honest relationships where people can give me the real feedback!
What is the one thing you believe to be true but others rarely agree with you on?
You can always find someone to agree with you. But there is something that has caused a healthy debate recently – the idea of diversity of backgrounds.
Recently I have been hearing stories about people being labelled as “a self-taught developer” and were looked down upon at interviews.
I think some people are threatened by the fact that there are people coming to professional roles without formal degrees or training. To me, it’s all about having the right mix to not overburden those people within teams that are teaching others and also bring in people from different paths in life, who can then provide alternative perspectives. It’s more than just gender diversity! That’s just the big obvious one!
Which failure or apparent failure set you up for success?
The biggest one was when I got made redundant in 2013. I was really enjoying the idea of continuing on the path that I was on and there was an opportunity for me to grow further. The company, however, went in a different direction.
A part of my redundancy package was the opportunity to take a step back and dive into career coaching. I sought professional help and because I had the time for myself, I was about to reassess and find the right path for myself. Had this redundancy not happened, I would not be in the position I am now. There is truth in that good things come from bad situations. It can just take time to see the good☺.
What is the best investment you have made in yourself?
Moving to Melbourne while finishing my degree really paid off for me, given that most of the larger companies are in Melbourne or Sydney. The move gave me greater options as a graduate.
Was your career planned or a function of serendipity?
A bit of both. Most of the time it has been a function of serendipity; I like to take opportunities on when they present themselves. I’ve always faced a challenge head-on and sometimes finding myself out of my depth! But it has always paid off in the end. The only time I planned anything was through the career coaching I did to land my role at REA Group as a Delivery Lead. Moving from QA management to leading a cross-functional team was indeed a planned move.
What is the role of mentors in your life?
I have just gotten a new mentor and I am really excited as it’s been a while since I’ve had a formal mentor.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Oh gosh! This is a hard one! I’ll say nothing because if I had advice from the future Lou, I might not end up being the person I am today.
With a 14-month-old daughter and a new role, I think I’ll be busy for a while ☺
We can’t wait to see Louise speak at this years Catalyst Conference grab tickets at http://catalystmelbourne.girlsintech.org/