What if you’re ambitious and great at what you do professionally, but your specialised skills and experience are better utilised in a thought leadership role, rather than in a people management role?
At Suncorp, you can progress just as far in your career without the need to take on people leadership responsibilities.
At Suncorp, Christianna Johnson is a Technical Development Specialist within the Statutory Claims division and has worked for the company in a variety of roles for over a decade. “I’m a committed, professional Suncorp employee,” states Christianna. “I’m ambitious and passionate about my work - but equally I have lots going on outside work. My family always comes first.”
Christianna appreciates her employer’s efforts in actively supporting the advancement of its female employees and their focus on truly embracing a diverse workforce. “So often, women become torn between choosing a thriving, demanding career or making time to fulfil family responsibilities. I’m happy to say at Suncorp I’ve never been forced to make this ‘either or’ choice that’s so common for many women.”
Choosing independent career advancement
Christianna is a big fan when it comes to Suncorp’s award-winning, innovative approach to supporting workplace flexibility. Although relevant to all employees, women are especially benefitting from an industry-leading program called ‘Specialist Career Pathways’. “I’ve led large teams of people and absolutely loved every moment managing staff, explains Christianna “ but right now I’m relishing the opportunity presented by Suncorp to utilise my leadership skills in new and exciting ways which, in many aspects, has a broader impact on business performance.”
Christianna accessed Suncorp’s program which offers employees a unique opportunity to develop and progress via an alternative route to traditional pathways of promotion through people leadership. It identifies the junction at which employees choose to pursue either a ‘people leadership’ or ‘specialist’ path. A specialist career path enables employees to develop their expertise, be recognised as a thought leader, without (or with minimal) direct reports, providing greater career development opportunities and the flexibility to move between both pathways during their career. The program is supported by an innovative and sophisticated competency framework enabling employees to easily 'navigate' and pursue a career via both pathways.
For women especially, this program is invaluable. “We’ve built something that truly works,” explains Alison Zada, Suncorp’s Commercial Insurance Learning Campus project leader.“Specialists are primarily focused on providing specialist expertise, advice and guidance to lift the technical capabilities of the team they support. ‘People Leaders’ have overall accountability for the development, performance and outcomes of team members. We offer choice between the two options.”
When work works
Christianna enjoys a very people-focused role. "I'm really driven by supporting and developing our Specialist Talent within Suncorp’s Commercial Insurance division. I bring together our specialists within a community of practice, which we've grown organically over the past few years. I love the collaboration that has been forged and so it's not unusual to see a Specialist in NSW who may be encountering a specific business problem to pick up the phone and speak to a counterpart in Brisbane or WA to assist with a resolution. The increased collaboration across borders is impressive," explains Christianna.
A large part of Christianna's role is focused on coaching and mentoring colleagues, both technically and from a leadership/professional development perspective. "I have a number of dedicated mentee’s across the group but I also enjoy integrating a coaching approach to my 'business as usual' work. I like that the Statutory Claims Specialists see me as a go to point for helping work through challenges they face." Suncorp Commercial Insurance has an impressive learning academy that consists of a number of Faculties, one of which is the Faculty of Injury Management headed by Christianna. The Faculty develops the capabilities of Injury Management specialists and helps create career advancement opportunities and experiences. The things Christianna really enjoys about her role is helping colleagues share what they're doing well and identifying where they're encountering challenges so they can draw on the support of others and work towards best practice at a national level. "My role is such a great fit for me because it utilises all of my professional skills. I'm an Occupational Therapist so 'Injury Management' is second nature to me, but the role also enables me to lead and influence positive outcomes across the business."
How she got there
Christianna started her career working clinically as an Occupational Therapist in a hospital, followed by community-based rehabilitation for about four years before moving into Vocational Rehabilitation as a Rehabilitation Consultant for a private rehabilitation provider. This is where Christianna really found her passion for helping people return to work and recover from workplace accidents. Discovering that she could secure a job as an Injury Management Advisor she then worked with an insurer and was soon promoted to Team Leader for one of their largest corporate accounts. It was a challenging role and great results were achieved, however before long a work relocation for Christianna's husband ensued. The pair then decided to take time out and travel around Australia, and Christianna secured temporary roles along the way relevant to her qualifications.
Returning to Sydney, the next stage of Christianna's career saw her join GIO Workers Compensation as an Injury Management Technical Advisor. From there she was appointed as the leader of the Personal Injury team for NSW Workers Compensation and built a high performing team.
After taking maternity leave for her first child, Christianna returned and was appointed Executive Manager of the Claims Performance and Improvement Team for Suncorp's National Workers Compensation business. A second child later, Christianna agreed to act in the role of Executive General Manager of Workers Compensation role for six months, although choosing not to apply as she was unable to commit to the responsibilities of the role due to caring for her young family.
Seeking a more flexible working schedule once the EGM role was appointed, Christianna moved into a Specialist Injury Management role and whilst she had direct reports at that time, a further tweak to the structure approximately 12 months later saw her move to a role with no direct reports, opting for a matrix reporting line to all of the specialists in the Statutory Claims team.
Enjoying a four-day work week
Working flexibly, Christianna successfully manages her work with family life. A four-day work week (of which one day is worked from home) enables Christianna to focus completely on Suncorp's departmental and divisional goals, yet she still has the space in her life to prioritise the needs and interests of her two beautiful daughters.
"I love the ability to be innovative and challenge the status quo at Suncorp'" says Christianna. "The sense of family amongst my work colleagues is remarkable. I've always found that you get back from Suncorp what you put in. The flexibility you're afforded if you perform well is marvellous. For such a large organisation, the environment truly is very dynamic. I love working for such an amazing organisation where I get to do what I love each and every day."
Christianna is a very energetic, passionate, focused, driven, strong communicator - who always chooses to put her family first.
And that's exactly how she wants things to stay!Learn more about Suncorp’s Specialist Career Pathways program and explore the wide range of exciting career options available. In fact, Suncorp has 80 specialist roles within their underwriting and claims teams.
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