Making their mark: female leaders at nbn – Angie Kerle
Leading in the field
Meet Angie Kerle
Angie Kerle is a veteran of the telecommunications world with 27 years in the industry, the last three at nbn.
Much of this time has seen Angie leading teams – at one stage, she was responsible for 850 employees.
This was naturally a daunting opportunity for anyone at any stage of their career, yet despite this, after being directly approached by a senior female leader hiring for the role, “I applied because I had a number of mentors who I spoke to that really supported me – said yeah, back yourself, do it.”
And do it she certainly – and successfully – did.
Today, Angie is General Manager, Field Services for Northeast at nbn, responsible for the frontline field workforce that services customer homes and businesses in Queensland and Northern New South Wales, as well as maintains the nbn® network.
It’s not the career path she expected after studying a Bachelor of Applied Science, Medical Laboratory Science.
While awaiting her final year results, it was a chance casual role taken up at Telstra to help out her recruiter flatmate, that saw her take a different Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pathway.
At the end of the week, she was asked to stay on.
“So, I stayed another week and at the end of the second week, they said, ‘Can you stay until we no longer need you?’ I went, ‘Yeah, no dramas… 24 years I spent in that organisation, never once applying for a role in a laboratory as a medical scientist.”
No looking back
Yet, Angie doesn’t regret her field of study.
“I don't because it taught me so many foundational skills that I've been able to bring into the business world.”
And it was early on that Angie realised the kind of leader she would be.
In a previous role as Resource Manager, a team member came to her with an issue about a colleague’s performance.
Angie asked if the two had already spoken as there may be other factors affecting that person’s performance, and encouraged her team member to better understand the person and their situation.
It worked: performance improved and the team member was grateful for the suggestion.
From that moment, says Angie, she realised you have to lead with empathy and understand people holistically.
“They're not just resource numbers, clocking in, clocking off. They’re a whole entity and, you know, home affects work, work affects home.”
It’s a sentiment that aligns strongly with nbn’s approach where we consciously create and maintain an inclusive environment where all our people feel empowered, safe, respected, have a sense of belonging and can thrive and succeed.
Coming full circle
And from new leaders to experienced leaders, we have tailored leadership programs, resources and coaching to help people grow.
Recently, Angie approached one of her female technicians at nbn to do some acting team management.
“She was very nervous about it. She didn't know whether she could do it.”
But, just like Angie backed herself all those years earlier, she agreed to take it on.
“By the end of the second week, she sent me an email, saying ‘I loved it. I loved it’.”
All she needed, says Angie, was to see the leadership potential nbn saw in her that she didn't see in herself.
“So, I think helping them realise it and just giving them opportunities, ‘It's only two weeks. What can go wrong? Two weeks. We're all still here to help you and support you. So, just see if you like it.’”
Angie’s tips for aspiring leaders
- Take ownership of your development and find out the type of leader you want to be.
- Find leaders in the business, whatever gender, that resonate with that and seek them out to be a mentor.
- Seek out opportunities, don't say no to anything, have a go.
- Back yourself, what you don't know that's on that Job Description, you can learn on the job.