Melissa Crawford – GM Future Work at Vector Limited

By on , in Australia, Interviews

Don’t ever let anyone tell you there is no place for kindness and caring in the workplace.

Born in New Zealand the 5th child in a family of 6 (5 girls 1 boy) to British parents. Melissa had a wonderful childhood with loving parents and many happy memories.  Learning early to cope with change as they moved between countries, towns, houses and schools gave her a solid foundation of resilience, building new friendships and a continual opportunity to learn.

This learning has been an ongoing theme from school to University to recently completing her masters. Learning through a career that crossed multiple sectors (Tech, Airline, Banking, FMCG, Retail, Electricity & Gas).  As well as global travel all over the world for both work projects and personal, always seeking new experiences and  exposure to different cultures.

Her work background shows a mix of strategy, leadership, project management, HR and IT. With 2 key career pivots, moving from Tech to People in her mid 20’s and then back to technology in her mid 40’s. Melissa thrives with the opportunity to mix her love of people with her passion for future tech and a splash of her creativity. Currently in a perfect role of GM Future Work.

Learning Curiosity and Kindness are her key values with her favourite day of the year being 1 September, New Zealand’s Annual Random Acts of Kindness Day. Losing her Brother and then 3 years later her father in her early to mid 20’s consolidated the importance of people and putting effort into key relationships as time is precious. It also reinforced the importance of creating your best life possible in the time you have.

Melissa’s current interest is in the cross of her background in technology with her human behaviour and organisational development experience to look at how AI may impact in the future and how to incorporate human centred design into tech to add the care factor she is passionate about.

In a Nutshell: Tell us a bit about your job and what role technology plays in it?

My role is GM Future Work.  It’s a really exciting role that looks at the intersection of emerging disruptive technologies and people and organisational psychology. Looking for opportunities to optimise the best of Technology and the best of humanity.

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

After I completed my IT degree I started in technology in technical support for networking and server management but it was very clear very fast I needed a more human facing role. I moved into technical training and change management for large system implementations, I had a knack for being able to communicate in the tech world as well as being able to interpret the WIIFM (Whats in it for me) for individuals impacted by the change.

I then spent the next 18 years focussing on developing my people and organisational psychology and behaviour skills understanding culture change in large organisations as well as skillsets and behaviours for high performing leaders and high potentials.

But I missed my tech roots and was really excited by the opportunities future tech was bringing. I wanted to upskill my technology skills so went and studied in an innovative Masters Degree programme called Masters of Technological Futures. My intention was to then work in a role where I could use both my Technology and People and Organisational psychology skills.

As soon as I completed my masters I was lucky to be picked up by Vector Energy, New Zealands largest distributor of electricity and gas. Vector is leading the transformation of the energy sector to create a new energy future.  With this future focus they understood the unique skillset mix I brought and I was offered the role of GM Future Work.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?

So many – Windows 3.11 – Windows 95 was a game changer. The move from DOS to windows had been massive and Windows 95 showed another reinvention and movement towards easier user interfaces to computing. This allowed ordinary people to not need to know how to code in commands but could access using a mouse. I remember teaching classes where we had to teach people how to use the mouse which seems so funny now.  The apple iphone caused a similar shakeup for the same reason – a user interface that was so intuitive you didn’t need a manual to operate. These are really exciting as it increases accessibility to technology, my 76 year old mum always has the latest iphone and can tell me all the new features well before I manage to upgrade 😊

When you think about ‘women’ and ‘technology’ what comes to your mind first?

Strength. The strength it took to get into a male dominated industry and the strength we need to help ensure the people factor is considered into all tech design.  What I like to call Tech with Heart.

We always hear there are not enough women working in Tech. What needs to happen to change that, which steps should be done to achieve gender equality in tech?

More women have to support other women. Also cultural environments need to be checked that the ecosystem is gender neutral.  Eg If the team building is always fishing or golf tournaments and the key meetings are always over school pickup and drop off times. These can be excluding behaviours, innocently meant but negatively impactful.

Which was the best decision in your career?

Being brave enough to pivot twice in my career.  It has given me a unique range of skills and experience that are critical to the era we are moving into.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

Your learning curiosity will take you places, take every opportunity you can and see everything as a learning opportunity. And don’t ever let anyone tell you there is no place for kindness and caring in the workplace.

Melissa Crawford was born in New Zealand the 5th child in a family of 6 (5 girls 1 boy) to British parents. She had a wonderful childhood with loving parents and many happy memories.  Learning early to cope with change as they moved between countries, towns, houses and schools gave her a solid foundation of resilience, building new friendships and a continual opportunity to learn.

This learning has been an ongoing theme from school to University to recently completing her masters. Learning through a career that crossed multiple sectors (Tech, Airline, Banking, FMCG, Retail, Electricity & Gas).  As well as global travel all over the world for both work projects and personal, always seeking new experiences and  exposure to different cultures.

Her work background shows a mix of strategy, leadership, project management, HR and IT. With 2 key career pivots, moving from Tech to People in her mid 20’s and then back to technology in her mid 40’s. Melissa thrives with the opportunity to mix her love of people with her passion for future tech and a splash of her creativity. Currently in a perfect role of GM Future Work.

Learning Curiosity and Kindness are her key values with her favourite day of the year being 1 September, New Zealand’s Annual Random Acts of Kindness Day. Losing her Brother and then 3 years later her father in her early to mid 20’s consolidated the importance of people and putting effort into key relationships as time is precious. It also reinforced the importance of creating your best life possible in the time you have.

Melissa’s current interest is in the cross of her background in technology with her human behaviour and organisational development experience to look at how AI may impact in the future and how to incorporate human centred design into tech to add the care factor she is passionate about.

See more interviews of our amazing Gals.

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