How failing up is the perfect way to plan for your future

It wouldn’t be possible to bring our Movers + Breakers to life, without some very special organisations. We’ve teamed up with the team at Destination Gold Coast to bring you a conference like no other and it turns out, their team has some pretty incredible women in it, too! We hope you enjoy this interview with Manager Strategic Projects and Engagement for the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct’s Kathy Kruger!

Can you share a little about your career up to this point?

It’s a bit eclectic! From a background in journalism and presenting the local TV news (in the days of very bad hair), I moved into managing corporate communications for the City of Gold Coast. Since then, I’ve balanced a number of different roles in economic development and education with the City and both Bond University and Griffith University and done the part-time work/consulting/parenting juggle for a number of those years. I’m also a yoga teacher.

How did you feel making the jump from journalism to consultancy work and a series of strategic roles? 

 Journalism gives you a really good start – you learn to talk to all different sorts of people and learn ‘a little about a lot, but not a lot about anything’! I’ve been lucky to be able to delve more deeply into different fields and now know a fair bit more (but still not a lot, relatively speaking) about medical and other research and technology. The pressures of live TV and daily deadlines have held me in good stead for thinking on my feet and trying to stay present at the moment. News is ephemeral.

What do you do to reflect on the past in order to effectively plan for the future?

I think looking back gives you the opportunity to see how far you (your city, your sector, etc.) have come and be reassured. I look for the lessons (and try to ‘fail up’), but also the accomplishments, especially the times of overcoming obstacles (hello IVF) – so reflecting on resilience. If you view the past from this mindset you learn to be very flexible with future plans but also confident – most things you dread, and many things you plan for, don’t turn out the way you imagine.

Your role is centred around innovation. Where do you look to find new ways to think outside the box?

I am lucky to work with many smart innovators, so I watch them closely. I believe that it is about looking in ‘other people’s boxes’ – not to copy, but to collaborate and integrate different ingredients. Multi-disciplinarity is so important to drive innovation, particularly as ideas and technologies converge and problems become ever more complex.

What do you consider are up-and-coming jobs for the future?

I’d like to say ‘Innovation Managers’ – people who see potential in other people’s ideas, who spot connections and bring people together. I’d like to think that’s what I do! The world is getting more complicated, and we need collaboration to bring together technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics with human-centred design. So maybe we’ll have new roles called ‘Human Technologists’, along with ‘Planetary Technologists’ – people who apply technology to solve human and environmental problems, which are largely one and the same. If you’re good with numbers, then as a data scientist, the world is your oyster.

What gets you most excited about your job?

People. Specifically, the ‘people transforming lives’ in our health and knowledge precinct. I’m inspired by their work to promote it far and wide and to create and guide projects that will drive collaboration and enhance impact. People who are saving lives – pulling blood clots out of brains, developing a world-first rotary artificial heart, a vaccine for malaria. People who strive towards a cure for spinal cord injury. What’s not to get excited about?

You’ve said you have a passion to support ‘people transforming lives.’ How do you cope with setbacks and/or red tape in a role designed to help people?

Building a health and knowledge precinct is a long-term endeavour, both in terms of the hard infrastructure (buildings etc) and the talent ecosystem that makes things come alive. So, I would say you need passion strong enough to maintain patience! Our precinct is a partnership between the Queensland Government, City of Gold Coast, Griffith University and Gold Coast Health, so there is governance (and sometimes too much red tape) in getting things done, especially as we are relying on private sector investment also. You have to take a long-term view and understand that the benefits of collaboration come with limits on control.

How would you describe your leadership style? 

I like to be an example and mentor in our team, so a bit of a coach and cheerleader, or maybe a conductor - not so much to set the melody but make sure we aren’t all out of tune! A synthesiser would be a good description.

How do you look to encourage and support your team? 

Providing freedom with accountability generally works better than instruction I reckon. As someone who has worked in professional roles part-time, I really understand the meaning of being able to do ‘important work’ without necessarily having an ‘important title’ – everyone likes to feel valued.

What are you most excited about with this Movers + Breakers conference? 

The conference name is fabulous – I especially like the incorporation of Breakers – there are so many opportunities for positive disruption. I’m sure Emma Carey, author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, will be really inspirational. My colleague and friend Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM has also recently published his memoir ‘Stronger’ about his journey living with paralysis, which includes being named Qld Australian of the Year 2021. It is so wonderful to be able to learn these lessons about embracing life from people who have lost abilities and achieved so much.

Fast five faves on the GC

  1. Fave restaurant – Social Eating House, Broadbeach. I love tapas-style!

  2. Fave beach – The Spit, our dog Rufus loves it too.

  3. Fave walking track - you can’t beat Burleigh Headland

  4. Fave wine bar - Mr P P’s is a rooftop bar in Southport-  great food too.

  5. Fave spot to unwind – we live on a lake, so it’s pretty good at home. Around the lake at the back of HOTA is fabulous – you’re amongst the buzz of the city/arts and culture scene, but it's serene.

Movers and Breakers is not your average conference. Each year we bring together 140 of our members for three days of extraordinary connection, learning, fun (a lot of fun!) and to hold space for you to be yourself. 

Movers and Breakers is an exclusive member-only experience and one of the most anticipated events on the Business Chicks calendar (the conference has sold out in just a few weeks year on year). Join us for a few days of magic with the best kind of people in one of Australia’s most beautiful places.Learn more here!

The imagination capital of Australia is all about combining everything that is globally known and loved about the Gold Coast with its purpose-built infrastructure to create memorable and extraordinary business events that can’t be replicated anywhere else in the world. Where else in the world can you indulge in breakfast onboard an ocean cruise while whale watching, then walk straight into your conference at a state-of-the-art venue before watching the sun set from our kilometres of golden beaches and end the day sipping a cocktail at a rooftop bar in the city at night? Only on the Gold Coast.


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