This month we interviewed Brooke Fossey, Commtractor, and a leader in Communications, Strategy and Engagement. Brooke also has a strong background in Business Planning, Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Relations, and has worked with a wide range of clients across all industries.
1. What interesting skills and experience do you bring to the table as a contractor?
Drawing on my experience in government and private enterprise, I help clients grow through effective business development, communication, engagement and marketing activities as well as managing their tenders and bids. With experience across the infrastructure, construction, energy and government sectors, I provide valuable insight to help clients succeed by implementing targeted strategies tailored to key stakeholders across a range of industries including water, road, rail, energy, technology, defence, ITS and SMEs
2. Do you have any entertaining stories about this contracting life?
At the launch of a major project, we had visiting dignitaries who consisted of foreign government Ministers as well as heads of major multinational companies. We purchased lovely gifts for the dignitaries and wrapped them beautifully to add to the photo opportunity. At the last minute, we decided to add a bit of an Australian touch and we tied a sprig of gum leaves to the gift (or so we thought). Luckily, our Project Director (who handed out the gifts) was a nature buff and quietly asked us why we decided to put a noxious weed on the gift. It turns out that we had plucked mistletoe instead of eucalypt leaves. Fortuitously, we were all at the same airport and we were able to discretely remove the weed prior to foreign dignitaries trying to go through quarantine. We may have forgotten what gift we bought them, but we have never forgotten what mistletoe looks like!
3. You have worked with a wide range of organisations across all industries – do you have a favourite industry to work in and why?
I’m going to sit on the fence here because it is too hard to make a call. I absolutely love learning so whenever I get a client in a new industry, I throw myself into the job 100% and learn everything about the industry that I can. This means that at the end of the contract, I realise how much I like the industry. I just can’t choose a favourite between industries because they are fascinating in their own way. If I was pigeonholed into one industry, I would have missed out on so much.
4. What have been your favourite projects/engagements/roles/clients?
I’ve definitely been involved in a few memorable projects over the years and there are three definite stand outs: the Callide Oxyfuel Project; the Traveston Crossing Dam and Wyaralong Dam projects; and a bid I worked on with a Spanish company to establish a project to combine several stand-alone traffic control systems into one Integrated Traffic Control Management System. They are all memorable for their own reasons.
The Callide Oxyfuel Project was able to successfully prove that carbon capture technology could lower emissions at a coal-fired power station. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of something that was so important for future generations.
The team at Queensland Water Infrastructure (QWI), the proponent delivering the Traveston Crossing and Wyaralong dams, was second to none. People strive for a high-performance team and, I have to say, we achieved that at QWI. Not only was everyone an eminent professional in their field, we all hummed to an amazing tune more often then not reaching some pretty aspirational stretch targets.
The other stand-out – the Integrated Traffic Control Management System – really opened my eyes to the future of technology and how it will be intertwined in all aspects of our society moving forward.
5. Since COVID-19, what are some of the biggest challenges you face when pitching your services?
The biggest challenges I’ve had in pitching my services since COVID-19 became our new reality is the inability to be in the same room as the person you are pitching to. Having to rely on either email, telephone and, to a lesser extent, video conferencing has made it so much harder to ‘read the room’. I walk into a pitch looking to help people; which is hard to do without the ability to sit across from them and drill down on what they need to see if I can complement them or fill a business need. I’m also quite expressive and visual. Often, I’ll sketch things out with pen and paper in BD meetings to illustrate options or project schedules. There is no easy way to storyboard a concept for a pitch without having the conversation with the client first and it is near impossible to do on a video conference, even with the great platforms available.
6. Who is/has been a great inspiration to you and why?
Sitting here today, I have to say that the people who have had the biggest impact on my career have been my kids – in a phenomenally good way. They have taught me to approach everything with a sense of wonder and determination. Children aren’t born with the societal and cultural norms that we are all taught along our journey to adulthood. They approach everything with a sense of curiosity and a clean slate. From my children, I’ve learned how to question without coming across as confrontational, as well as mastering the art of feedback. When you get asked “but why?” umpteen times a day, you soon learn to explain situations and decisions clearly, and most importantly, I’ve learned that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
7. You have been in the industry for close to two decades – what are some of the major changes you went through, and what further changes do you predict?
When I first started my career, my mobile phone was the only Nokia brick phone that you could get and text messaging hadn’t even been invented – I’m not even 40 yet… The biggest changes I’ve seen over the course of my career are all around technological advancement. Getting a blackberry was a massive highlight as it was brand new technology at the time. The importance of a press conference was replaced by a 24-hour news cycle and now by social media livestreaming. Gone are the days that you could control the news cycle by providing exclusive interviews and using other tactics like ‘taking out the trash’ all on one day because you knew there were only so many column inches on the front page of the paper.
I think COVID-19 has really seen a trend where the public is turning back to trusted sources like print and news media and not solely relying on Facebook for their information. But I’m not sure how long this trend will last.
Our future will lie in the adoption and application of artificial intelligence and it will be interesting to see how ethics will be applied when harnessing ‘data’ in this space.
At Commtract, we have a wide range of experts across marketing, communications, advertising, writing, public affairs and design. Choose from more than 4000 talented communicators, when you post a project here.
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