WELCOME TO OUR CAREER SPOTLIGHT SERIES – JUNE
This month’s spotlight is coming to you slightly late (in July), which means July we will have two professionals featured!
Our guest this month, has an interesting career path that I am sure we can all take inspiration from, especially when it comes to finding ‘your calling’. Terry Bell, is an Indigenous Strategy Consultant, who started his career journey as a plumber, venturing out to mechanics, air conditioning, cable joining (for Telstra) and then discovering his love of learning, (similar to me) Terry is committed being a life-long learner and currently studies a professional doctorate.
1. Can you tell me a bit about what you do for work and what you enjoy most about your job?
I develop Indigenous employment strategies that are strategic and based on the needs and capacity of a business entity.
I am currently the Director of Aboriginal Workforce Solutions (a 100% Aboriginal owned consultancy firm), I leverage 20+ years’ experience as a senior leader, to work in collaboration with business leaders creating and implementing sustainable Indigenous (employment strategies) action plans tailored to the organisation’s unique culture, needs and capabilities.
In addition to my employment, I am also currently studying a Professional Doctorate with CQU full time which I enjoy as I am researching ways to improve Indigenous employment outcomes within Leadership roles. The PD complements my existing knowledge and aligns well with the results we are seeking through Aboriginal Workforce Solutions
I also was recently appointed as a member of the Sunshine Coast Health and Hospital Service (SCHHS), and am looking forward to the opportunity to make a positive contribution in the health space.
2. What is a typical day like?
My day typically starts around 5:30 am, and I take the opportunity to jump straight into study when my mind is fresh. As a morning person, I aim to knock over as much study as I can, before starting the juggle between overseeing the business operations of Aboriginal Workforce Solutions and completing my professional doctorate studies.
This can involve responding to enquiries from new organisations looking to implement some of our services, or liaising with my existing clients to ensure things are running smoothly with the implementation and reporting of their plans and strategies already in place.
I always set aside time for exercise around midday to ensure I’m keeping active in such sedentary roles, and always aim to read each day in the afternoons and evenings.
3. How has your role /industry been impacted by COVID-19? And how have you adapted?
When COVID-19 unfolded, I had to rethink my service delivery, pivot and start utilising Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing methods for my business consultancy services. I’m grateful that I was able to utilise this technology for all of my current projects, study and even to maintain attendance at SCHHS Board meetings.
4. What was your path to working in this profession?
After leaving school, I originally set out to be a plumber, working in mechanical services and air conditioning. After completing my trade, I secured a role with Telstra, and completed a cable joining and faultman accreditation where I worked for 9 years before jumping back into the Plumbing trade. Around that time, I was involved in a car accident and as a result I couldn’t continue in my trade. While in recovery, I went to University as a mature age student, it was there I discovered a love of learning, and so I never really left. I have continued on moving into various other courses and degrees over the years, and began drawing on my experiences as an Indigenous University student, working for various tertiary Institutions to enhance the participation of their Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander students.
Over the past 20 years, I have successfully developed and lead indigenous programs in the Tertiary, Resources and Public sectors that have achieved significant outcomes for Aboriginal people, businesses and the community.
I have held various positions which have required high-level project development and implementation skills and have successfully developed, implemented and coordinated Indigenous engagement and advancement strategies across the higher education sector, as well as in government and private sector, where I have successfully improved Indigenous employment and business opportunities. In 2019, I decided to establish my own company where I leverage a dynamic range of experience to achieve mutually rewarding employee and employer outcomes Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people.
5. Do you need any qualifications to do what you do? If so, what are they?
I have completed a broad range of research that supports my experiences and allows me to provide broader advice to my clients. I have a BA (Sociology /Human Resources Management), Graduate Certificate in Public Admin Management, MBA, and am in the process of completing my Candidature for a Doctor of Professional Studies.
A qualification within the business area would always a benefit someone looking to work in the space and to grasp an understanding of the legislative requirements and overarching governance that is involved, however a motivation to support the participation and development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to strengthen cultural capability would be a key requirement.
6. What is the best career advice someone has given you?
“If nothing changes, nothing changes. Know what you want to do and have a plan to achieve it”.
7. What advice would you give to someone looking to get into this profession?
It’s important within my role to be an advocate and strong voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but there is a distinct difference between advocating for and speaking for another person. Within my role I instead draw on a deep understanding of indigenous cultures, to develop strategies that are based on my own personal experience and evidence-based research.
Thank you Terry for an insightful look into your career and what you do. What an amazing and inspiring field to work in. I would love to take this opportunity to thank you for the work you do and continuous study and education to improve employment opportunities for Indigenous people, whilst partnering with and educating companies on their own Indigenous strategies. We have enjoyed working with you and learning more about your story.
If you are looking to navigate a career change or pivot, you can learn more about our career coaching programs here.