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Member Spotlight with Lisa Cornell CMgr FIML

IML Membership Spotlight

In this month’s Member Spotlight, get to know Lisa Cornell CMgr FIML, Operations Manager for the Indigenous Australia Program at The Fred Hollows Foundation. In this article, Lisa shares her unconventional yet successful leadership journey, what drew her to the Foundation, her advice on supporting the vision-impaired community in the workplace, and her leadership philosophy.

1. Tell us about your leadership journey so far

Despite an unconventional path to leadership, I have always had a natural ability to manage people. Becoming a Chartered Manager through the Institute of Managers and Leaders ANZ refined my management skill set and allowed me to apply my values to my business.

I am a long way from where I started – both literally and figuratively. I started at 19 with a hairdressing salon in the UK, and am now the Operations Manager, for the Indigenous Australia Program at The Fred Hollows Foundation.

In between these two starkly different points in my career, I’ve been a legal practice manager, the general manager of a busy real estate company, and ran my own business as a motorcycle riding instructor.

In 2014, I won Manager of the Year for the Northern Territory at the REINT Professional in Excellence Awards, and I was a Telstra Women’s Small Business
Finalist in 2019. Safe to say that my journey to leadership has been unconventional, but successful and there’s no telling what could be in store next.

2. What drew you to working at the Foundation and to your current role?

I always knew that I wanted to get into health at some point in my career as it was an area of interest, and there is nothing better than knowing you are working for a purpose and able to give back in some way. So, when I saw the position advertised in 2015, I thought I would give it a shot. Since then, I have been fortunate to have held several positions in The Foundation and gained invaluable experience, together with seeing such wonderful achievements that The Foundation has made to people’s lives.

Lisa Cornell, CMgr FIML

3. Do you have any advice for how leaders can better support the vision-impaired community in the workplace?

Blindness or low vision can be caused by many different diseases, conditions, and/or accidents, and although some impairments can be corrected with glasses or
surgery, other conditions cannot, therefore I suggest that the best support you can offer is by making workplace adjustments and providing support.
Everyone’s needs are different, so the first step is to sit down with your colleague/staff member and ask, “How can we best support you?” Depending on the degree of vision impairment I recommend some of the following.

  • Orientation to enable the employee to become familiar with their surroundings.
  • If required have a buddy so they can assist them in the new surroundings or when required.
  • Large computer monitors to aid in viewing text etc.
  • Use ‘assistive software’ screen readers and or screen magnifiers.
  • Ensuring information and systems are accessible, including documents, websites, and IT systems are developed using accessibility guidelines.
  • Correct lighting to avoid glare etc.
  • Have everything within easy reach.
  • Tactile markers and marking edges of steps with contrasting strips.
  • Take regular eye rest breaks.
  • Have regular check-ins.

So essentially, it’s about:

  • Access and safety in the physical space
  • Access to the tools of work
  • Access to information
  • And an enabling culture that recognises and welcomes the fact that people do things differently

4. How would you best describe your leadership philosophy?

I would describe myself as a Democratic Leader, I prefer to involve everyone in the decision-making process as everyone has so much input to offer, but I am also a leader who has a roll my sleeves up approach to do what needs to get done!

5. If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?

To not be so hard on myself, I had put too many unrealistic expectations on myself throughout my life and even when achieving, it felt it wasn’t good enough and had to strive for the next thing. Life is precious, so stop a little longer to smell the roses.

6. Do you have a book or podcast recommendation?

I love the book The Way, I See It by Sir Alan Sugar, it is an extraordinary account of Alan’s life from growing up on a council estate to becoming one of the greatest entrepreneurs. I really have so much respect for him.

7. What are your top 3 recommendations for Members who are travelling to the Northern Territory?

Only three! This is hard… there are so many places.
1) Mindil Markets in Darwin is a must, soak up the beautiful sunsets, variety of food and unique gifts in the various stalls.

2) Katherine Gorge – absolutely breathtaking scenery, it has a very spiritual feel about it and certainly makes you feel insignificant as you look up at the gorges
surrounding you. Highly recommend the boat tours and canoeing there if you are fit and active.

3) If you are a golf player, I recommend having a game at the stunning Alice Springs Golf Course, followed by lunch on the deck overlooking the magnificent ranges. You can’t help being in awe of the ranges as you walk to your next hole.


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