Our latest Tech Inspirer is Alice Collins. Truth be told, Alice wasn’t super comfortable being featured in this series, but anyone who’s worked with Alice would agree she is an inspiring colleague, as well as fun, empathetic, and dynamic in everything she does.
Where did your career story begin?
I actually did my degree in hotel and business management, because my parents owned motels and holiday parks, so it kind of seemed like a natural fit as I was helping out with running them during holidays. After working in a hotel for three months in London I worked out pretty quickly that it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
I got a job at the BBC in London as a project coordinator in the tech space and then made the natural progression into project management roles. It was an amazing experience working for the BBC – it’s such a powerhouse with such a well known brand
Did you ever imagine you’d end up working in tech?
Absolutely not, haha. It was never something that I had even thought about through high school or uni. But the more I got into it, the more I became passionate about it. Project management is quite a natural fit with my skill set around organisation and building teams. I’m not the person that’s got the latest gadgets but I love learning and I think there’s always so much to learn about technology.
That’s one of the amazing things about Transpire. We have such talented and incredibly smart people that are also happy to share their knowledge.
How did you find your way to Transpire?
After I moved to Melbourne I began a job working on a database migrations project. At this point I really had to think about whether these types of infrastructure projects were where I wanted to go – I made the move into mobile apps and learnt quickly I’m much more suited to product based work, where it’s something that’s tangible – I just find it all so interesting and fun! I worked with lots of clients from big organisations down to startups and really enjoyed working with cross functional teams. I realised that my passion was leading teams and making them as effective and efficient as they could be. I loved the continuous improvement and creating that really close bond between the team and also with clients. I then moved into Head of Delivery and then Head of Operations role at a product company, and it was a really interesting change to be on the client side for a change. It gave me a really good understanding of how the whole cycle works, and I learnt a huge amount from some very talented leaders in this space.
During this period I’d had two little girls who are beautiful and wonderful, but also hectic and I was finding that working a demanding job was becoming a bit much for the phase of life I was in. As they so often do in life, my priorities changed and I made the decision that I needed to prioritise family and my life balance. That’s when I spoke to Tony, who was a really good friend and mentor of mine from a previous job who I’d kept in touch with. He said: come to work with me at Transpire. And voila, here I am.
Was moving into account management a big shift?
I’d never done account management before and I was a bit hesitant. I’m all about doing the right thing by customers, making sure that they’re happy, not focussing on sales. I spoke to Tony about that a lot, and he was very aligned to my way of thinking. Because I’ve got the delivery experience and I’ve done lots of projects I understand the process from start to finish, so can really leverage all my experience in this role.
And… how’s it going?
I love it. I love when a client comes to us and says: this is what we want to do, and we have to hustle a team together, create a pitch deck, work really quickly and innovatively and come up with ideas. I love the energy that surrounds that. I love building relationships with our existing clients, and just helping them! If they come to me with a problem, then it’s my role to go away and work out a solution and come back to them with a way we can help them.
I’m across a bit of everything in this role, which means I can learn from each of our practice areas, whether that’s Design, Mobile & Web, Cloud or QA. I also love the leadership role of being the motivator, looking after the team, making sure everyone’s okay. I guess it’s the servant leader style. It’s not about telling the team what to do, but how you can really support them to deliver outcomes together.
How did becoming a mum change your attitude to work?
Before becoming a mum, work was my life. I’d work late, start early, go above and beyond all the time. I was determined to climb as high as I could as quickly as possible. And I got burnt out. I was actually really ill for both of my pregnancies, so it became quite hard to be on all the time. As soon as I had children it put things into perspective as to what is actually important to me. I needed to focus my time.
But after three months of being at home with Harper and I knew I needed to get back to work. I love working with people, I love collaborating, I love being in the office, I love putting my mind to work and finding solutions to complex problems. I find it so rewarding. Finding that balance was the key.
Did Transpire provide the balance you were looking for?
This role really has absolutely given me that balance that I was seeking, and the ability to do drop offs and pick ups and things like that. Across the whole company there’s a lot of empathy, understanding, and no judgement. Sometimes I’ve woken up and said to Tony, “I’ve been up four times overnight, I feel gross, I just cannot do this today”. Or “I need to take a half day’s leave and I’ll get what needs to be done”. Not once have I had anything but support – the response is always: “what can I do to help?” I’ve never felt scared about having to take time off to take the kids to the doctor or anything like that.
Transpire want people to be happy at home, so they can be happy at work.
I’m a big advocate for that. And it goes both ways too – I’ll sometimes work at night time if I’ve been busy with the girls in the morning, to make sure that my job is done and that I’m delivering. I’ve seen this across the company, at every layer. This goes beyond policy, it’s the people and who they are – we really care about each other.
Transpire is growing rapidly and we’ve got ambitious targets, but it’s not at the cost of the brand – our brand is our people.
If there was one thing that you think defines the Transpire culture, what would it be?
Support. Supporting your personal life and making sure that you have what you need to be able to do your best work. With my role, I have the flexibility to be able to balance work and life, and then support from my manager to grow my skills and advance my career. Across the team, there’s so much support from everyone because we’re all trying to do the right thing for Transpire.