As the GM of CSL Behring Australia and New Zealand, a leading biotech company responsible for providing life-saving medicines in more than 70 nations, Loretta Croker knows a thing or two about leadership. As part of the CSL Career Files series presented by Business Chicks, Loretta spoke to our friend, Dr Marcele De Sanctis from the Centre for Leadership Advantage, sharing her lessons on everything from uncertainty to likeability and why stomach butterflies can be a good thing …
Align your career with your core values
I married a firefighter with the same dream as me: to make a difference to people’s lives. I’ve always been driven by that. I wanted a career where I could use my business skills to help others, and the pharmaceutical industry fit the bill. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years now.
Do things before you’re ready
I’d love to see more women put their hand up and take on new challenges, even if they don’t have all the answers. You can learn on the job, so put your hand up! And a few butterflies in your stomach can be a good thing – they might even make you hungrier to succeed. As women, we can take on any challenges that are in front of us.
Worrying won’t get you anywhere
If I could give career advice to my younger self, I’d tell her not to worry too much! Someone once told me that “today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper”, and I always remember that. I’d also tell my younger self to go with the flow and let things go a little. Not only will you learn lots, things might not be as bad as you first thought.
Lean on your mentors
It’s important to listen to your mentors and take others’ advice. We can be our own biggest critics at times. Often, the people I surrounded myself with had more confidence in me than I had in myself, and being encouraged to take on challenges when I was reasonably confident – but not totally confident – greatly helped me in my career. It can be hard not to get down at times when things don’t go your way, but my mentors have always stayed close to me and kept me positive during hard times.
You have two ears and one mouth. Follow that ratio
A big factor in my career success has been listening. I don’t mean just nodding and acknowledging others’ views, I mean really thinking them through and considering them. I like to remember that we have two ears and one mouth, so I follow that ratio! At CSL, from our CEO down, people listen to each other. I also have felt heard throughout my time here. People take time to build relationships with each other, and it’s authentic. During COVID, here in Victoria, some of my staff have been homeschooling, some caring for elderly parents … I’ve always liked to solve problems but I haven’t always had the answers during this time. However, I’ve always been able to listen – together we can always come up with a plan.
Learn to embrace uncertainty
At the start of the pandemic, one of the challenges I faced as a leader was adapting and learning to collaborate in different ways – working out how to be a visible leader in a remote world. I’ve had to draw on my own resilience. Sometimes, I haven’t been in the best space to have a conversation, and I’ve had to step away and come back. But it’s been both a challenge and an opportunity. The unknown can create uncertainty and anxiety, but if you have multiple plans in place and you can learn to pivot quickly, that will give you more confidence to tackle it.
Work for a company you believe in
I’ve been given the opportunity to work for a company that’s driven by purpose and values, but is also results-driven. At CSL, we’re launching products to the market that are desperately needed, and you can see the difference they make in people’s lives. Our Promising Futures initiative is all about helping employees fulfil their individual career aspirations and potential. For me, the word ‘promise’ is about the commitment the organisation is making to me, and the commitment I’m making to the organisation.
Be clear, kind and keep learning
My parents always taught me to be open, honest and kind. As a leader, I put caring for people at the centre. I also communicate often and clearly. We’ve had a great journey here at CSL in Australia and New Zealand and have met all our milestones – that partly comes down to being clear, pragmatic and open. I also like to learn. I always need to be learning!
People do things for people they like
If you want to influence others, well – people can see through you if you have an agenda. At the end of the day, they’ll do something for you if you’re likeable. If you can resonate with others, you’ll be likely to achieve your goal.
Help others to achieve their dreams
It gives me great pleasure to see smiles on the faces of my team when they achieve a goal. To me, that’s what it’s all about – helping other make their dreams become reality. There’s nothing better than finishing your work week and thinking about how many smiles came across people’s faces during it. That’s what puts a smile on my face.
CSL has been doing life-changing work since 1916, and the company’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and empowering women makes them a perfect partner for Business Chicks. Find out more about CSL here.