Alumni Profile: Carmen Keshishian (EBLP '09)

20 September 2011 By Carmen Keshishian

Carmen Keshishian
Carmen Keshishian

This month, LV sat down with Carmen Keshishian (EBLP ’09), Melbourne Water Procurement Manager of their IT Capital Delivery Program, to discuss her leadership journey since graduation.

I initially set out to become a teacher or a social worker. I was doing a Bachelor of Arts with a major in sociology and a minor in psychology, and then I got sidetracked and involved in computing purely as the result of an assignment I was doing.  I ended up in IT – Voila! Magic.

In all my time in IT the skills that I rely on the most are the sociology and psychology, the soft skills.  With IT, the technology part of things is quite straightforward, because it can only handle an on/off condition anyway. The implementation of IT systems and solutions is about change, and change is what effects people.

The best project managers are the ones with the great stakeholder engagement skills. You can bring a system into play, but if you haven’t got the people on board with you, if they haven’t come with you on the journey, then no matter how good the system is, it’s going to fail.

If you want to bring about change you have to change yourself, it’s a simple as that. One of the things I’m learning is that I need to slow down the pace at which I do things, and pick the easier things to get across the line, to show runs on the board – that ‘change is not going to kill you,’ so to speak.

I was interested in how I could get involved in giving back. I loved the (EBLP) program, I loved the learnings from it, I loved the involvement with the not-for-profit sector.

I worked on a project with an organisation called Limbs 4 Life, it’s an amputee support organisation, and I’m actually the chair of their board now.  We are making strides, but I’d just like someone to say ‘I’ll give you a million dollars a year, now breathe, and do what you need to do!’

One of the things that has changed in the later part of my career is a far more inclusive style, than one of directing.  Doing - and being part of a team is far more productive for me as a leader.

The leaders I most admire are people from my life, rather than famous leaders. There is a lady who became a friend and mentor, who worked in the health field.  I admire her capacity to be open to all possibilities.

What makes a good leader is the capacity to be a human, and see and understand that others are humans too.  Being brave and prepared to stand on the skinny branch and see what comes of it.  Being able to hear and acknowledge people, and value people.