CreditorWatch scores Australian Olympian Fiona Crawford as GM for people and culture

Aussie Olympian and HR leader shares her top lessons – on and off the court

CreditorWatch scores Australian Olympian Fiona Crawford as GM for people and culture

If anyone knows a thing or two about teamwork, it’s CreditorWatch’s new GM for people & culture, Fiona Crawford. As a softball star with a bronze and silver Olympic medal to her name, Crawford has climbed to the top of both her sport and her profession.

Last month, she was named the new HR head at the leading digital credit reporting bureau. Bringing with her 20 years’ experience in leadership, HR, training and coaching, as well as a dedication to excellence on the softball court, Crawford will be responsible for growing the business and its people, delivering group-wide HR projects and managing the company’s training programs.

Speaking to HRD, Crawford said a drive to deliver on what she’s set out to achieve is one of the key lessons she’s taken from her sporting career into the workplace.

“I think that's what separates the average athlete from the high-performing athlete. They understand their role within the team, they understand what their strengths are, and they do what they say they're going to do,” she said. “If there was a runner on third base and I came up to the plate, I couldn't leave it to the person behind me to make the hit. I find I take that approach into my work and make sure that I'm the ‘I’ve got it’ person. I think that’s really critical in HR, particularly within CreditorWatch. It’s a standalone role, so the buck stops with me.”

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Crawford said the opportunity to play with and be coached by a vast range of people all over the world exposed her to different personalities and behaviours. She learnt how to adapt her communication style and understand what motivated her teammates. Crawford also saw firsthand the power of the connection between coaches and players, and how that had the potential to bring out their best – or leave them feeling disengaged.

It's not dissimilar to the relationship between managers and employees, and the fundamental role of coaching to equip leaders with the skills they need to nurture those relationships. In a time when leaders need more than just business acumen to steady the ship, coaching and leadership is a fundamental part of the HR function in today’s workplace.

Crawford said leaders need to be able to pivot and flex to different situations at the drop of the hat. While it’s unchartered waters for everyone, management and leadership skills will continue to be tested in 2022.

“The important thing for HR moving forward is going to be for managers to have that real sense of connectedness with their staff to get the best out of them,” she said.

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But Crawford warned there is a myth around constant “high-performance culture” that she has seen touted in the business world, and said organisations mustn’t fall into the trap of failing to recognise true moments of achievement.

“I've seen what high performance looks like and feels like, and the vast majority of teams aren't high performance all the time - but that’s OK,” she said.

“It's about recognising when teams are high performing. Whether it's on a project or if a salesperson does whatever it takes to get that sale over the line, it’s about recognising that that is high performance and that’s what we all aspire to.”

Looking ahead, Crawford said she’s looking forward to embedding new initiatives and practices to support staff as the business continues to scale. She will enable the business to grow by assessing current skill capability and developing training pathways to get staff where they need to go. But she’s also eager to work alongside a brilliant team – something that reminds her of her softball days.

“It speaks to the inner athlete in me. I played my best softball when I had a coach that I wanted to play well for and I had teammates that I wanted to make proud,” she said. “I get that real sense with the people at CreditorWatch.

“Patrick Coghlan (CreditorWatch’s CEO) is the type of leader who genuinely wants people to do well and therefore people want to do their best. We’ve got some of the smartest people in the industry, so I want to work well for them because they’re so good at what they do.”

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