However, I had a week to move up to Sydney to start in the role.
This gave me little time to pack my bags, book an AirBnB for the first couple of weeks there (in a great coincidence, my AirBnB hosts are artists), and book flights. It made for a hurried few days as I also traveled up to visit family in the country ahead of the move. But it all got organized, and last Friday, I headed out to Melbourne airport and flew the 90 minutes up to Sydney.
Not too much has changed...
The last time I lived in Sydney was 13 years ago, taking a year off from university to work as a trainee materials engineer. The money wasn’t great, but it was my first full time job, and on weekends I would head into the city to take in the sights and sounds of the place. It’s still as picturesque and energetic as then.
It’s also as prone to wild weather as I remember…
As part of the role I am managing a newly formed team in a relatively new division of the organization. It’s only been a few days, and I’m sure there is still plenty to learn about my team, but I can already see that each person brings a unique perspective and strong skill set to their work.
A part of me is tempted to find this intimidating, wondering how I can establish credibility as a manager when my team has much more knowledge than I do. But being the smartest person is not the point of being a manager. A manager’s job is to understand the needs of the team and serve them, to smooth the path so that they can deliver on the goals of the organization. A good manager has to resist the temptation to be intimidated, and check their ego at the door (something that this recent article made clear).
In truth I am really happy to have a skilled and passionate team to work with, and excited to help them do a great job.
The other challenge that I face is recognising that the task ahead of me is long term in nature, and that I am not going to achieve all of the goals by tomorrow. Coming from a project-type environment and before that, the 8-week course system of graduate school, that’s a shifting of gears mentally. But on the path to leadership, being able to shift those gears is crucial. It’ll be a good experience.
Although it was an exhausting week, it was exhausting in a good way. I made it to the long weekend, and rewarded myself with a trip to the Sydney Biennale art festival, part of which is being held at the UNESCO World Heritage listed Cockatoo Island. The former convict prison and naval dockyard has been repurposed to house installations ranging from giant indoor air balloons to intimate film screenings in old prison cells that hold only a few people.
All in all, a good first week.