Mental Health Education in the Workplace

#8 Building a growth mindset culture – Ellen Derick, Managing Partner, Consulting, Deloitte Australia (s01ep8)

Sep 17, 2021

Ellen Derrick is the Managing Partner of Consulting, Deloitte Australia and a board member of the Corporate Mental Health Alliance. Ellen shares the lessons that she has learnt from her 17-year daughter who lives with Cystic Fibrosis. She talks about her passion for gender diversity, psychologically safe teams, and how her growth mindset is one of her greatest strengths.
"I like to create environments where people feel their best. And I think inherently what comes with that is people won’t always be at their best, so how we respond to that is where care comes in."
- Ellen Derick


  • Gender diversity in the workplace.
  • Encouraging women in leadership.
  • Building psychologically safe teams.
  • Successful career tips that led Ellen to Deloitte.
  • The valuable lessons learnt from her daughter who lives with Cystic Fibrosis.


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Transcript from the interview

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Graeme Cowan, Ellen Derick

Graeme Cowan 0:05

So a big welcome to you, Ellen on the on the caring CEO podcast

Ellen Derrick 0:27

Thanks so much, Graham. I’m really excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Graeme Cowan 0:30

Oh, my pleasure. Ok, what does care in the workplace mean to you?

Ellen Derrick 0:35

Yeah, I’m great question. You know, for me, you know, care for me in the workplace, you know, for me cares, the foundation of performance, right? If I look at, you know, our business and Deloitte, and at the heart of everything we do, we’re a people business, right, our teams, our clients, you know, the kind of ecosystem of delivery partners we work with, at the heart of that is people. And so cares are really fundamental, you know, aspect of how we perform in the environment, you know, that we want to create. And, you know, for me, I love to try to create environments where people can feel and be their best. And I like to think that, you know, a lot of what we do is creating great leaders, you know, whether that’s for Deloitte, for people who come and work with us, who then go out and work in industry, or they go and work in government, you know, and over long careers, if you’re asking people to be their best, or your, or you want people to be their best selves, you know, I think inherently what comes with that is people won’t always be at their best selves, right? It might be a life event, it might be a bad day, it might be a global pandemic, but in a really long career, you know, there will be moments where, where not everyone is at their best. And how we respond to that, for me, really, that’s, that’s where care comes in, you know, in addition to creating an environment, you know, where everyday people feel valued, you know, and can, you know, can perform at their best.

Graeme Cowan 2:05

I see that you’re on Deloitte’s inspiring women and women in leadership programs, how can we get more women into senior leadership? Do you think?

Ellen Derrick 2:14

That’s, that’s a good question, Graham, and I spend a lot of time thinking about that. It’s a real passion of mine too. And, you know, aspiring women, and, you know, a number of the programs that we run really is about, you know, helping, you know, to pull through, you know, all our talent, right, and, and certainly, you know, our best female talent, you know, for me, you know, I draw a lot on, you know, I’ve been, you know, really fortunate to have a great set of opportunities and mentors and sponsors, and I feel I’ve, you know, had a great opportunity to be really well cared for, and to be challenged, and, you know, through those programs in our day to day, you know, it’s really around, you know, certainly identifying our talent, making sure they feel valued, making sure that they can see, you know, a path for themselves, and they see value in the work that they’re doing. And then really, you know, helping them day to day in to achieve those ambitions. And, you know, for me, it’s, you know, it’s certainly around creating leaders in our organization, but it’s, you know, and like I say, you know, out into to, to industry as well, but it’s really about helping them, you know, realize the ambition that they have for themselves, right, and for me, whatever that looks like, right, but to help them realize that, you know, I think that’s a large part of it.

Graeme Cowan 3:36

I really liked a piece of thought leadership, that Deloitte put together I think might have been 18 months ago, and it was looking at the future of work. And the title subtitle was, the future is human. And it included in there, you know, talking about careers that were hand careers, you know, people that drive trucks or lay bricks or did that sort of thing and talked about head careers, which can be thought of as engineering, actuaries that sort of thing. But the big growth area was around heart careers. And that was, as I’m sure you’re aware, around, you know, how we can work better in teams. And for me, that really highlights why there should be more women in senior leadership, because I think as a general rule, I don’t want to make a blanket statement. But I think often, women are better at sensing what’s happening in a team. How do you see or how do you in Deloitte help to spread that message of the advantage of having women looking out for the heart elements which create the synergy and the collaboration, etc, etc?

Ellen Derrick 4:42

Yeah, absolutely. Now, I mean, a few things. I mean, we know that diverse teams and diverse leadership teams absolutely produce better results, right. We know that we’ve got the data. You know, for us, you know, our ambition around having more females in leadership um, is right at the heart of our strategy without it out, right, and we would we, you know, certainly work with our clients, you know, and an advocate that as well, you know, for me, it’s, um, you know, and we can make the assumptions around, you know, those skills and skills of the heart and really know, the the jobs or the heart, you know, at the core of industries that we would say, typically have care as the foundation, right, when we look at health in our different caring industries. You know, I wouldn’t, you know, stereotype that, you know, women own those skills, right. But I do think, you know, the diversity of perspective, and when we’re looking at teams, and when we’re looking at the disruption, you know, that we’re seeing, you know, across the board in every sector now, and disruption, you know, led by, you know, the events of the last year disruption that’s being driven by, you know, cloud and digital technology, and what does that mean, for the future of work in teams, you know, what we’re really seeing at the heart of that is, no, you’re seeing disruption that requires, you know, change driven by technology, but very much paired by the skills of humanity, right, you know, the skills of the heart and innovation and creativity and empathy. You know, and I think there is really, you know, a unique opportunity, you know, in, you know, coming back to, you know, for women to really grab that and run with it, I would also say it’s a great opportunity f or men, I don’t, domain of women, you know, but there’s a, an absolute opportunity. But I think, you know, fundamental, you know, for me in that is, it’s really about creating diverse teams. And we know that, you know, diverse teams have all sorts, you know, with great gender diversity and diversity of thinking and diversity of background, you know, and ethnicity, we know that those teams perform at their best. And you know, that certainly at the core, you know, the teams that we’re trying to create, the organizations that we’re trying to create, and the leadership teams that we’re trying to create as well.

Graeme Cowan 7:00

Congratulations on your recent promotion to the Managing Partner of Deloitte Consulting Business. Well done.

Ellen Derrick 7:07

Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Graeme Cowan 7:09

With that role, did you when it came up, did you willingly say, I’m all in? Or did you hesitate in going for it?

Ellen Derrick 7:17

I didn’t, I didn’t hesitate. But I’ll tell you that I certainly took time in really thinking through, you know, in evaluating, you know, the opportunity, and, and I’ll take you through, you know, just a bit of the process in that, you know, I’ve been at Deloitte for nearly10 years, I’ve largely been a consultant for nearly 25years. So, you know, if you look at, you know, if you think of the ambition around that role, you know, the role that I was doing previously was, was leading our public sector practice nationally, and working with the public sector and large scale, scale transformation. You know, that’s, that’s really been what I have always felt is my life’s work, right, it’s real deep passion of mine, I studied government and business, but real service mentality, you know, that I that I thank my mother for, for handing down to me, you know, and really making a difference. And I always felt, you know, that, that the greatest kind of site to impact and the work that we can do, working with clients, you know, was really in the public-sector. And so then looking, you know, at extending that, and in, you know, moving into the role of Managing Partner for Consulting, and even thinking that that might be a role, you know, that I could take on, I really took the time to think through, is that the right role for me? Am I the right person, you know, to lead that team? Do I have the right attributes? And is this the right time?, and, you know, the things that I really thought through, you know, I’m someone, you know, I’ve, you know, I certainly have high performance at the core, I work really hard. I love a challenge. And, you know, when you look at a role like that, you know, that has all of those attributes, but the thing I really came back to was because I love a challenge. And, you know, I’ve kind of had a life where, you know, I’ve had a whole set of challenges put at me, I have strong skills on, you know, if you’re going to go to war, you think you want me on your team, just stop and really ask myself the question, you know, is this the challenge? Is this a challenge for right now? And am I the best person for it, you know, before even thinking through putting my hand up to say, you know, if it becomes an option, if I’m the right person to serve this team in this practice, you know, I really took the time to think that through and much of the frustration of some people, I think, but it was I really need to make sure that this is that this is right. And, and it’s right for it’s right for the team, and it’s right for me and it’s right for my family. And as I work through that process,  you know, it became very clear that yes, if it became an opportunity and an option and I could put myself forward I was I was certainly all in. And I’d be incredibly humbled, and just entirely grateful to have the opportunity to lead the great team that I do. So then to be appointed into the role, you know, it has been, it has been exceptional. And you know, as I work through that process, you know, one of my great advisors is, well, she just turned 17 on Tuesday, but my daughter, Kate, and as I spoke through with her and the pluses and minuses and and I’ll tell you, you know, she’s wise beyond her years, Kate and Kate turned to me. And she said, Mum, yeah, I think, you know, you’ve been doing exactly what you love, and you never thought you’d be able to even do that, you know, in doing what you’re passionate about what you love. You’ve been doing that, you know, for 25 years, she said to me, and she just turned to me. And she said, think it’s time to put your big girl pants on. Time to do something else. Spot on, girl, I’ll take it.

Graeme Cowan 10:56

Yeah. And Kate has her real challenges as well, as I understand that she has cystic fibrosis, what what is that like? How does that impact the way you work that you’ve, you know, got someone that you love dearly, who has special needs? And you’ve got this exciting career? How do you balance that?

Ellen Derrick 11:16

Yeah, and, and obviously, cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition. Right. So Kate was born with it, and I found out at five weeks. And so I’ve now had this, you know, 17 year journey, you know, of learning and, and evolving, you know, with what, what does that mean? And, you know, early on, I did wonder what will that mean? You know, what will that mean for our life? And what will it mean for her? And what will it mean for my career? And, you know, with it, you know, I’ve learned over time, in a way and it’s, it’s something I kind of applied to career advice, not to look too far ahead, right? You can look up cystic fibrosis, and you can read the statistics, you know, and I’ve learned that, you know, I don’t need to look too far ahead, I need to, you know, take care of Kate, you know, for how she is now. And, you know, we’ll take things as they come because it’s impossible, you know, to kind of predict, you know, how her how her health will evolve. And, you know, you know, blessedly like Kate does incredibly well, you know, she has a really complex illness. And she has, you know, diabetes as well. And, and soon paper, you know, there’s a really complex set of circumstances, you know, to meet Kate, you just see this, you know, phenomenal superpower of a human being, you know, who’s, you know, unshaken, and nothing can stop her and I take a lot of inspiration for that, you know, over time, as it’s evolved, you know, I, I always say this one story, I, you know, I decide, you know, I’m, you know, kept working after Caden, I just, you know, made the commitment to myself that, you know, I would keep working and trying and I’d be, I’d be fuelled by making sure that what I do every day, you know, has an impact. And if I have to make a decision, at some point that that’s no longer possible. Well, I hope I can find it in myself to have the courage to make that decision, you know, in to make the right one. But I always say we, you know, when Kate got to be about five years old, and, you know, talking and full of life, and, you know, I’d said, you know, I’d come through the door every day. And little Kate, you know, she would ask me, you know, like Mum, well, you know, what, what did you do today? And you know, that I really started to feel like the intense, you know, accountability and pressure of that question, you know, when I really felt it that, you know, if I couldn’t look Kate in the eye and say, This is what I did today, like, this is why it matters. And guess what, you know, and, you know, I knew that I had to make a change, because everything in the world that matters to me, you know, is is her? So if I can’t answer that question in the right way, well, my God, I have an incredible alternative of how I can spend my time. And so that has, you know, it’s really, you know, I always say that with Kate, we never use the language of, you know, in spite of or even though like, I never say, okay, does this even though I never say, Well, we’ve been able to do this, you know, in spite of we only say because of, and I always say it’s because of Kate, I have been, you know, pushed into saying, Yeah, I’m gonna try harder, you know, I’m going to go for the next thing. I’m actually going to question myself every day, whether I am maximizing my time, you know, really holding myself to account on how I treat people and being very hard on myself when I don’t get it right. You know, and I don’t always get it right. But you know, that question, I often think back to it, and you know, Mum, what did you do today? And, you know, it’s really kind of fuelled me in my career, just to make sure you know, that there’s impact, you know, and then I’m pushing really hard because, at the end of the day, you know, with cystic fibrosis and diabetes, it’s a very, very intense daily treatment regime. When even when you’re healthy, or you know, before you even, you know, really get sick or get an infection just to stay, you know, well, it’s really intense every day and I always feel, you know, if I’m asking Kate everyday to step up to that, you know, into be her best self and to, you know really put in the work just to keep herself healthy. Well, my god, she’s got to be able to look at her mother and you know and have that role model of you know what girl, when you put in the work when you keep pushing yourself when you try harder when you show up, it’s worth it and it matters. And it doesn’t just matter to you, it matters to the people around you.

Graeme Cowan 15:27

I really like that distinction between because and in spite of and it reminds me of a book I read called A First-Rate Madness written by a psychiatrist called Nassir Ghaemi. And what he did was to go back and looking at some really, very successful leaders, people like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, JFK, and he was able to go back and actually document and really prove with pretty high certainty that all those people had a mental illness of some form. And and what he his conclusion was that it wasn’t, they became great leaders in spite of that mental illness it was because it helped them to have greater empathy. It helps them to see reality better. And it also ironically, made them more resilient. And so that really reinforces what you what you just said, they’re.

Ellen Derrick 16:22

Fantastic. I think I’ll need to read that.

Graeme Cowan 16:26

You had an unusual childhood? Would you mind just explaining a little bit about that? And how that shaped you?

Ellen Derrick 16:33

Yeah, but yeah, I grew up in Buffalo, New York. And I’ll tell you what, I, you know, maybe some unusual experiences, but I’m really happy childhood. And, you know, I think it’s only as you get older, and you’re, you know, really into adulthood that you look back and realize, oh, okay, yeah, that set of experiences, you know, that really shaped me, you know, it was just childhood, and I was living my life. But, you know, I was born in Buffalo, New York, and I was adopted at birth, and I was adopted, because my mother, my adopted mother, after my older sister was born, she found out she had breast  cancer. And, you know, again, this was, you know, the 70s, she was told she could not have kids, she was being she was being treated. And so I, I was adopted. And, you know, I always joke that, you know, I was kind of the miracle child, my parents didn’t know if they’d be able to adopt, you know, they ,they told me that they kind of went to like the patch of babies and picked me out of the patch, because I was so quiet. Yeah, you know, my parents very from one of my first memories, you know, is my parents talking to me about being adopted. And the way that they framed it, to me was how lucky and grateful I  should be, because someone loved me that much to make that sacrifice for me, to give me a better life. And, you know, I’ve only ever been able to view, you know, that scenario with that framework, and, you know, how selfless and what a big decision and you know, now that I’m a mother, I really understand how selfless that was. But, you know, my parents being so open and transparent with me, you know, really shaped me, you know, just an absolute core value of, you know, straight talk and transparency and honesty. And, you know, my mother was in remission for a number of years. And then, you know, her cancer came back, and she passed away when I was 11. And, you know, what I’ve really realized looking back now, you know, you know, my mother, you know, she cancer came back when I was about five years old. So I spent a lot of time with her, you know, being sick and going through a number, you know, of operations and being in hospital, and, and just observing and watching my mother, you know, through that period, and, you know, one of the things, you know, I really took away is, you know, despite everything she would have been going through, and, you know, you realize, as a family, we would have been going through, you know, I said, you know, my mother had a real service mentality, she was always hammering into me, how grateful I should be how lucky I was for the life I had for the experiences I got to have, you know, and that really, you know, always stayed with and despite anything that was going on in our lives, that I had everything to be grateful for, and to never forget that, you know, I also learned from her, you know, how to carry yourself and hold yourself and, and how to walk through the world when things you know, are really difficult, you know, when she walked in, held her head high, and she was really funny, and she could command a room, you know, and even, you know, in the last months of her life in hospital, and I would watch people in the room and she was the funniest one in the room. And, you know, I could see how he was actually uncomfortable for other people, you know, she was going through a terrible time, but she was still able to carry herself that way despite anything she would have been feeling right. And so yeah, how you carry yourself when things are hard, and that doesn’t mean that you you know that you don’t feel it, you know, but actually, it’s it’s okay to have a laugh when things are hard, right. You know, there’s nothing thing wrong with that, that, you know, coupled with, like I say, you know that that real sense of she never hid for me, you know that how her health was progressing, she was really open with me. And that meant that, you know, in her final weeks, you know, I got to spend a lot of time with her and spend nights with her in the hospital when essentially she was dying, and have some incredible conversations and, you know, I’ve, you kind of forget, and then you get a bit older, and I, you know, I think back to some of the things she said to me in those conversations, and just how much, you know, they have shaped me, and why it is that I jump at different challenges, you know, and it really comes back to some of those really formative conversations. So, you know, for me in childhood, you know, those things really, really shaped me, you know, in in, of course, made me extraordinarily close, then, you know, to my sister, you know, in my father within that too, you know, my sister and I are still you know, best of friends.

Graeme Cowan 20:58

Wonderful. When you think about your role now, you’ve just taken on where you concerned, it would take you away from your passion, that you mentioned, your passion was really the public sector, and you’ll have to obviously, spread your time across other sectors. Now, was that a consideration when you were thinking about the role?

Ellen Derrick 21:18

I think it’s only wise to really continue if you’re evaluating a role and you know, a career change, you know, you have to really think through Yeah, what is your passion? What are your values? And where do you derive your energy. And, you know, and that was, you know, that was part of the process. I mean, at the end of the day, you know, I, I studied government, because I, I love the complexity, I really, you know, in that complex systems and getting things done, while it has extraordinary impact, and in the broadest sense, it’s, it’s really complex, and it’s highly visible, and the stakes are really high. And I absolutely love that, but at the end of the day, you know, my real passion in what I do sits it, you know, being able to serve our clients, you know, being able to build teams and see people grow into, you know, watch people take on new leadership positions, and, you know, to achieve things they never thought they could, and to be there for our clients, you know, when our clients put their trust in us, you know, it’s, it’s typically, you know, it’s complex, it’s complex problems, right they’re experiencing disruption, they need to grow, they need to deliver, and to bring us into that, and to trust us with that responsibility, when, of course, it’s personal, you know, for organizations and for those individuals, you know, we take that really seriously, that means a lot to me. So, you know, my core passion, you know, is how we show up every day and serve our clients. And so, you know, while my focus has always been, you know, in delivering into public sector, and I, you know, in different points in my career, I didn’t work in other sectors, you know, I just, you know, I’m, I’m based in Canberra, I studied government, like, I always say that, like, it looks like I kind of plan that. But anyway, it’s worked out, you know, but at the core of it, you know, is, is how we serve our clients, and how we, you know, help them walkthrough, you know, their most complex transformations, and help them really, you know, realize the opportunities from change and disruption. So that’s the core of it, you know, and being able to, you know, work with our teams and apply that across sectors. Actually, you know, you can, you know, honestly, it’s, it’s so exciting, and it gives me a huge amount of energy. And the one thing I will say, you know, if you ever needed a moment in time to know that no one sector in this world or this country owns impact, right, in fact, you know, the real power is how we see sectors and different industries come together. Well, the last year, you know, that just put that in the spotlight for us and you can start with the bushfires, right? There’s no way you know, you can respond to something like bushfires with out, you know, without government without Telecom, you know, without intervening resources, you know, when you know, when we really need it, it is how in this country and we bring our capability cross sector together that really matters. And of course, then we sell that on steroids with COVID. So, the opportunity to take, you know, what I have been doing and, you know, in really at the heart of what I do is is drive complex change right in large scale reform and transformation. Well, that applies to any sector. And then, like I said, you know, the ability to see us bring that together. That’s what really excites me.

Graeme Cowan 24:38

You’ve got a lot on Yeah, this this big role. You know, you’ve got, you know, family and Kate, what do you do for self care? How do you make sure that you have sufficient time to recharge your batteries?

Ellen Derrick 24:51

Yeah, um you know, this is something that, not surprisingly, you know, over the past few years, you know, I’ve certainly given a lot more thought And even care, you know, in how I think about this, you know, I would say that, you know, I have always been someone that, you know, if I think something is difficult, you know, actually, I just want to work harder, right? If something is complex, I just want to crash through it, you know, I would say, you know, kind of always been a person that in a way more is more, you know, and I really learned over the past couple years that, of course, that is just not the best  approach. And, you know, actually, sometimes stepping back and stopping is the absolute best way to move forward. And so I, you know, I spend a lot of time, you know, I don’t like to think through things and in really thinking through what, what does that mean? And how do I really put together the framework to make sure, yeah, that I am, that I am, that I am well, and I’m well at home, and I’m well at work, and I’m well in bringing that together. And so I definitely have a plan Graham, got my bullet point list and, you know, there’s a few things at the core of it, you know, I, you know, I grew up an athlete, and, you know, so for me, you know, exercise and, you know, you know, and kind of, you know, testing myself that way, remains really important. So I certainly exercise and that just, you know, helps me inworking through working through stress, you know, spending time with my family, you know, and my friends and making sure that I’m not, you know, too lost in myself, you know, is a really big part of that, too. You know, I also, you know, and certainly just getting outside and, you know, sleeping well, and eating well, and just, you know, the basics of taking care of myself is certainly part of that. And it’s really easy to take that as given. But we know, you know, you know, you need to focus on that, you know, and then I always try to make sure, you know, I’m pairing that just with simple joy. Right. So there is the How do I take care of myself? But what are the what are the moments of joy? What are those elements, you know, that really give you the energy to keep going, you know, when I talk a lot about Kate, you know, she gets a lot of, you know, she gets a lot of airtime, but you know, I have a son as well. And he just turned 15. And I always say, you know, Kate, Kate’s my absolute inspiration, if I’m ever having a day where I’m not sure I can keep going or if it’s worth it, trust me, I just think of Kate. But when I think of just, you know, joy, and play and energy, you know, that’s, that’s my son. And so, you know, on my bullet point list of, you know, wellness and joy, it just says spend time with Miles. And, you know, he I she’s like a Labrador and being around his energy and his humour, you know, it really, you know, fuels me a lot. You know, I also, you know, yeah, I have a lot on but you know, I’ve gotten smarter and, you know, working with my schedule in the activities that you know, inherently give you energy. And that ,you know, they are life giving, and so they certainly, you know, underpin your care. And that means time with our you know, with team members, you know, one on one and hearing about them and helping them spending time, you know, with clients, you know, making sure that I get the balance, right of the bits of you know, what is a big job, but the things that really fuel you in remembering why you’re here, in addition to doing the things that we have to do for the business, you know, that, you know, perhaps I might be now prefer, you know, someone else does now, but that, you know, they’re part ofthe role, but making sure you know, really making sure that I that I maximize my energy, and when I get that, right, you know, you feel like you can, you can do anything. And you know, we often kind of make this trade off or talk about a trade off of home and work and I really never see it like that, you know, if I’m energized and I’m loving what I do, I tell you why, like, I roll through that door and my family, you know, there are really large part of my decision making, you know, on the choices that I’m making my career, but you know, what I do day to day, you know, and, and I love to be able, you know, to be able to come home and, you know, and have the energy of them seeing that I love what I do. Right? And you know, and being able to share that with them and would be one thing if I turned up at home everyday and it was miserable. Well, now that’s not fun for anyone. But you know, I think they can take something away from like, we get that this is so much you and to, to love me is to understand that. But I’ll tell you what, you know, Graham last year, you know, is we were edging into COVID and locked down and there were still a lot of uncertainty. One thing I noticed that I started getting a lot of like really kind calls from people, you know, asking, Are you okay, and actually, you know, it was is Kate okay. And the question was, are you are you worried? Like you must be extra worried? I mean, she has she has morbidities Are you all right? Like how are you handling that and, and by about the fifth call or talking to a colleague of mine and saying, you know what, this is gonna sound funny to you. But I actually think in this scenario, we have an advantage. And I started thinking about it, you know, and then ultimately wrote an article about it, you know, where, you know, kind of the most complex thing in your life becomes your advantage, you know, the challenge becomes your advantage. And the way, you know, I was able to articulate that as well, number one, because of what Kate has, we we absolutely know, social distancing, right? No Kate can’t be around certain people, we certainly know, face masks. That that level of, you know, uncertainty, and, you know, the way you know, just framed it, you know, like, Kate knows what it’s like, and then by virtue of being your mother, you know, we we really get what that’s like, to every day, not quite understand or, or have that fear of what, what maybe, and then find the courage to live within that and push past that and be productive. And that’s it, you know, over many years, and we’ve really learned how you walk that line. And that fear’s there. It’s there. It’s a really serious illness, but how do you say, okay, and I respect that, and, and I’m, you know, humble to what that is in the force that it is, but how do we say, okay, but we’re still gonna move forward. And, you know, within that, you know, it forced me to reflect on Okay, within those environments. And, you know, when Kate is sick, what is that formula of things that I come back to you to say, No, actually, you know, when the shutters come down, this is how I take care of myself. And, you know, really forced me to articulate a few principles that I have. And it also forced me to look in the mirror to think, “hey, that’s what I should be doing everyday and not”, you know, that that’s the recipe for looking after myself, and actually, you know, looking after other people, you know, and the things that, you know, I spoke about was this, you know, number one, this concept of just cutting each othersome slack, right? You know, you’re going through a pandemic, your daughter’s in hospital, and I hit, I don’t know how to break this to you, you’re not at your best. Like everyone, stop pretending you are, I just know, let’s, let’s all accept that we’re not. And so maybe, maybe let’s just take a breath, right, you know, or we respond to each other, maybe we just say, I accept that maybe you’re not at your best right now. And I’m, you know, I’m gonna allow you some space for that, in some concession, and, you know, when I remember to do that, even on a day to day basis, I’m a much better person, you know, for that, you know, the other thing, but, you know, just, you know, making sure that I’m really mindful of the information, and you know, what I’m consuming on a day to day basis. And, you know, I really learned that when Kate was born, and when she was diagnosed, and you know, as, as someone who, you know, knowledge is power, and I’m highly analytical, you know, my natural tendency would be to consume everything I needed to know about it. And I just, and I knew really quickly, that was not good. I actually knew, what I need to understand is how I take care of her, you know, hour by hour, but my God, do, I need to start getting onto Google and reading. You know, and that’s actually that that concept is it helps started to help me with COVID, I just don’t need, I don’t need the minute by minute updates. You know, and then at different times, when I know, I’m under a significant amount of stress, you know, I don’t need to be watching the news every 30 seconds, you know, I just, that is not helpful. And really being mindful, you know, and in practicing that. No, then just being willing to know that if I don’t take care of myself, if I’m not, well, I can’t be well for anyone else. And that applies at home. And that applies at work. And that’s not being selfish, but it’s an absolute false economy to say, I don’t have time for that, or, or I’m not like, you know, really, really taking care of the basics is critically important. Yep, I can see you want to ask a question.

Graeme Cowan 33:57

You made a decision to dedicate time to join the board of the corporate Mental Health Alliance? Can you just explain to our listeners what that is? And why you decided to invest your short time you very limited time to play a role with that?

Ellen Derrick 34:11

Absolutely. And what I really say is, yeah, I feel privileged to even have the opportunity to be a part of the corporate Mental Health Alliance and to be a part of that board. And so it was a, you know, a really easy decision for me, but the corporate Mental Health Alliance started, you know, in the UK many years ago, and it was around, you know, really city based organizations, you know, recognizing, you know,t he impact of mental health and mental ill health on workers and coming together to say that, you know, this is an issue and we really want to be able to, you know, de-stigmatize, you know, this issue in the workplace and to create healthy workplaces. And about two plus years ago, you know, the Alliance, you know, moving into Australia and it was, you know, seeing which organizations right would be a part of the alliance in Australia and I was really fortunate at the time that my equivalent in Deloitte in the UK, you know, was sitting on the board there, and, you know, she got in touch with me and said, this is, you know, this is something you want to be a part of, and, you know, she took me through it, and I said, Well, you can stop talking, you don’t need this now, to sell me on on the need, and the importance of the issue, you know, I’m 100% in, and you know, our CEO at the time, you know, and we took it to him around Deloitte, you know, being a founding member. And of course, you know, he was 100%,supportive, and then supportive of me being our board member. So, you know, been an incredible learning opportunity and an incredible privilege to be a part, you know, of the Alliance. And really, you know, the Alliance is all about, you know, a set of organizations that have come together to say that, you know, this is one of the most important issues of our time, and that we can do a lot better. And really importantly, we can do a lot better if we come together. And so it is, you know, a business led Alliance, but it’s expert guided, right, so it’s, you know, instead of CEO, he’s, you know, in in leaders of organizations, but guided by experts, you know, to help us, you know, really look at how we create mental mentally healthy workplaces. Now, it’s been, yeah, it’s been a huge amount, you know, of learning. And no one’s sitting around that table, saying, you know, they have all the answers. In the chair of the board is Stephen Worrall from Microsoft, who’s just done a phenomenal job, you know, you know, with the rest of the board, but, you know, really driving that and bringing together a diverse set of organizations. And now, if you think of the power of that, you know, sitting around that table, you have, you know, leaders from organizations that compete intensely in the market every single day of the week, right? You’ve got Woolies and Coles, you’ve got the lawyer, KPMG, PwC, and really intense competition sitting around that room. But when we’re in that room, you know, it’s everyone, you know, absolutely committed to seeing how we can do better within our own organizations, but then how we can pull our thinking in best practice, you know, expert got it to help every organization. And yeah,

Graeme Cowan 37:13

Sorry I was just gonna say, I really love when I first heard about that. And the reason was, was that it was business leader lead. And some of I think the unfortunate legacy of mental health in the workplace is stored as being something separate, you know, something that we deal with separately, it’s in a different area. But in my experience, and it’s really one of the main reasons why we started this podcast is that good leadership has both those things that has, you know, the care and mental health and resilience of the team, and also the performance. And as you’ve articulated very, very well, you know, if they just do go together, if your team’s mood is not good, not going to get great results, you really aren’t. So I was really excited to see that development and, you know, fully support everything you and Steven, the rest of the team are doing.

Ellen Derrick 38:07

Yeah, it’s been phenomenal and now, if we needed to understand, you know, the power of what, what we’re starting to do and what we’re going to be able to do, you know, we had a moment last year, you know, when is really, you know, when Melbourne was in lockdown, and I think going into a second lockdown that one of our board members, you know, one day just really put in an emergency meeting for that night for all the members to come together and to share, how are we supporting? You know, our team’s through that, you know, in a really challenging time, what are you doing, what can we learn from each other, and you’re talking, you know, some really senior leaders, you know, and everyone was on that call, and everyone was openly sharing what they were doing and what we could learn from each other with an absolute common goal. So he knew he really needed to feel the power, you know, of those organizations coming together. And it was a really inspiring moment, and right at the heart of exactly what we’re trying to do together, and it was a real moment.

Graeme Cowan 39:09

That is what a great example of just pulling together because in the work I do around resilience, I didn’t so many just for the Melbourne audiences and they just had unique challenges because of the length of time that they were in, in lockdown. When you think about yourself, what do you think your team members would consider your number one strength?

Ellen Derrick 39:37

Number one strength…. I think, you know, over many years, you know, of, of understanding, you know, my leadership style, you know, in the strengths within that, you know, I think there’s a few things but you know, you asked for one you know, I’d say overall, you know I have a just an intense growth mindset. Yeah, and, you know, that applies to, you know, being, you know, quite bold and being able to see opportunities. It also means, you know, I come back to, you know, to the examples, and, you know, in my experience with Kate, it also means that there’s almost no scenario where, you know, I can take challenge in bad news and immediately say, Okay, well, here’s the good thing, or, okay, here’s what we’re going to do, or, okay, here’s how we’re going to move forward. And, you know, so the ability to take that, you know, and be bold and creative vision, but then, you know, be able to bring people along on that, and, you know, stay the course and have resilience. You know, I think I think that’s what they would say.

Graeme Cowan 40:47

Yeah, that’s, I think, I love the growth mindset concept by Carol Dweck, I think it is, and it’s so relevant in this workplace, when things are so volatile, and uncertain, they are changing every single day. When you took on the role, your new role, did you think “Okay, I need to learn something else here, I need to grow another element of my leadership to take on this national role with all industries”?

Ellen Derrick 41:18

Absolutely, and, you know, in general, I mean, as, as a as a person, but certainly, as a consultant, we’re always learning, right, you know, think, you know, particularly growth mindset, you know, at the heart of that is, is always being willing to learn and challenge yourself, right. And, and I really strongly believe in that. In this role. I mean, like, anyone you bring in, you know, your experience and your signature strengths. I also knew, you know, you can call them, you know, blind spots or areas, you know, that I, you know, that I certainly need to be able to create the team around me as anyone would. But, you know, that’s, you know, really my leadership style anyway, you know, in leading through others. I am, you know, one thing, you know, I have a really good sense of my strengths, and a very good sense of my values. And that really helps me, you know, in designing teams around me. So, I have just a phenomenal, you know, team instead of leaders, you know, that I’m working with day in and day out, you know, who I am heavily reliant on right for, you know, some of the skills and experience, you know, that, that I, you know, I haven’t had at my core, you know, throughout my career. And then, of course, spending time, you know, with all our teams and other partners on, you know, take me through what you’re doing, and what excites you, in your industry and in, you know, learning all the phenomenal things that we’re doing, and what’s exciting other people and what they’re passionate about, and the opportunities, they can say, I absolutely love that. And, you know, and actually putting, you know, the challenge to everyone around, challenge me. And, and tell me, you know, what, can we do better? And, okay, that’s what you want to do? How are we going to do in? You know, actually, how do we get out of your way? You know, it’s, um, it’s a huge amount of, of learning Graeme, and you know, that, I mean, that’s one of the beautiful things of a new role, right, there’s nothing more energized. And, you know, it can be daunting to, but there’s nothing more energizing, and, you know, fantastic, there’s so much to learn and understand and to work through.

Graeme Cowan 43:34

What do you think are the really critical ingredients of a really outstanding Deloitte team?

Ellen Derrick 43:40

Hmm, I think the ingredients of, you know, a great Deloitte team is kinda the same as, you know, ingredients of any other teams, and, you know, what do what do I really look to, and, you know, when I reflect on, you know, just the best teams that I’ve been a part of. And, you know, that can be, you know, the sporting teams that I was a part of, or, you know, just phenomenal teams, I’ve been a part of, at Deloitte. Phenomenal teams have been a part of with clients, you know, or it was us, them, other providers, you know, what, you know, what’s the DNA on that? And, you know, a few things, you know, for me, you know, I think back to, you know, having, having some form of, you know, united goal or, or mission, you know. In a sports team, hey, we knew what we were trying to do and what we’re trying to win. You know, but understanding, you know, where we’re going and what we’re trying to achieve together. You know, everyone having a good sense and understanding of their role or their position, and then having an absolute understanding that whatever that position is, it’s highly valuable. Right And, and regardless of, you know, I like to say I, you know, I played on an incredibly high performing soccer team, all through high school. And I always say, you know, in my entire career I’ve scored and maybe five goals my whole life, you know, my name was never in lines. You know, I was a defender, but I knew my value, right. We all had a part to play. You know, it was my job to get that ball, it was not my…. You know, I didn’t, you know, I love the people who were scoring, but you’ve got to know your position, and we’ve all got to understand the value of every single person’s position and contribution within that, you know, I believe really strongly in, you know, accountability, you know, in being clear on what we’re each, you know, achieving together and individually and being accountable for that, you know, working really hard and showing up to the problem and having each other’s back, you know, in through that, you know, creating an environment of real psychological safety, and trust within  that. And, you know, that’s easier said than done, you know, as you know, but, you know, really creating, you know, an environment where we say, you know, we can challenge each other, we have each other’s back, we’re united, we care for each other, we trust each other, therefore, we know that we have to challenge each other. We’re never going to get better if we don’t, you know, and being able to say what  needs to be said, and, you know, what, when, when we don’t get it right, then just saying sorry, and moving on right now, you know, when I, when I brought my new leadership team together, you know, I’ve spent a lot of time just, you know, on the behaviors and what we expect and, and actually putting forward the, I want you to say it, and guess what, if you get it wrong, like, that’s fine, like we’re all human, you get it wrong, you apologize, we move on. But I can’t have you sitting there afraid to say something, it’s just it’s not going to serve us in any way, shape, or form. And for me, those things are incredibly important in making sure we have the right, certainly the right set of skills and thinking, you know, and in a really diverse, different styles. So I know, we’re going to get all different types of perspectives and challenge. And, you know, I love those environments. You know, and that’s really, you know, that, to me, that’s, that’s the best type of team.

Graeme Cowan 46:51

In my presentations and workshops, I often ask people to reflect on, you know, a really fantastic, great team, they’ve been part of, what was it that made it unique. And the thing that really happens is that they say all the things you’ve just said, you know, we have a common vision, we have each other’s back, we have complementary strengths, we enjoy ourselves, that’s a, you know, that’s a really big one as well. And, and then the fundamental thing, what made me so passionate about this, you know, Whole Care movement is, you know, did you care for each other and always its a, you know, just a really resounding yes. And that’s why I think that the, you know, the care in the trust, respect is the, is the basic ingredient that really leads to outstanding performance.

Ellen Derrick 47:36

I agree with you, you know, when I think of the best teams, I’ve been a part of the, you know, there’s, there’s one element that I didn’t mention, you know, when I reflect on them, you know, it’s always that we, we had some form of crisis, or it was hard, or we struggled to form, or we went through something that that meant that when we got to the end, you know, we, you know, we valued it even more, you know, we you know, and, you know, for me, you know, care, I love the concept of care. And I think a lot of the times we only think of care as being nice, and doing soft things, you know, I think of care, in away much more dynamic than that, you know, there’s, it’s, it is, you know, for me, trust comes from I know that you’re gonna support me and be kind. But I also know, you know, if you care enough, and you care enough about me, you’re also going to, you’re going to challenge me, right, you’re going to have a tough conversation with me, you know, for for people that I’ve looked up to and leaders I’ve had, you know, you’re actually going to give me the feedback that I need. And it actually just being nice, sometimes has no care in it at all. Like, for me, there’s real lack of humanity in not having the conversation.

Graeme Cowan 48:51

That’s is such…

Ellen Derrick48:51

We need all of that.

Graeme Cowan 48:53

That is such a great point. It really is. And, you know, the key doesn’t mean being soft. And in fact, I think that the most caring thing is to help people to be independent and successful and to be able to navigate their own future.

Ellen Derrick 49:07

100% You know, I mean, they comment before, you know, I have felt, and I continue to feel until I am really well cared for. I’d also say that I’m someone who receives and I think maybe, maybe I appear or open to it, or I appear robust enough, I get really, I get the challenging feedback, I have a set of people who will tell me, you know, what I need to hear and how I need to be better. And, you know, and they challenged me in that way. And sometimes for me, like, that’s really at the essence of that if you didn’t care, you wouldn’t do that for me, you know, in that creates such an environment of trust, and, you know, what I, you know, with, with teams that I have, and people that I work with, and I actually think about the same, you know, with my kids, right? You know, if we start with this basis that you know, of course, you know, I want I want you to do and be and achieve all your dreams, I want you to be phenomenal and exceptional, whatever that means for you, you know, a team member of mine, you know,  one of my child, you know, one of my children, and you know, when I’ll push you, I’ll challenge  you all support you, you know, I’ll help you see things maybe you know, you can’t quite see, and I’ll help you set the goals and I’m gonna cheer you on. But I also want you to know that the foundation of that is whether you do any of that, just who you are, who you show up as every day, I absolutely value you. And I respect you already. That environment of absolute trust, you’ve got that regardless, now, let’s go and try and do awesome things but I’ve completely, I’ve completely got your back.

Graeme Cowan 50:47

Yeah, what a great point. What a great point. I can’t believe how time has gone so quickly. I’ve just got a couple more questions. Knowing what you know, now and I mean, experiencing the full dynamics of all the elements of your life? What advice would you give your 20 year old self? If you had the chance to speak to you back then?

Ellen Derrick 51:10

Yeah, I have been asked that question a bit. And, and it’s, you know, I reflect on it, and what would I give, you know, my 20 year old self, it 20. You know, I was still in University studying, I had just comeback from a semester in Africa, doing development work. You know, I, you know, I was having a ton of fun, I was passionate. You know, I sometimes like that, flip that question. And thank, you know, rather than what would I tell that person? What if I was 20 year old me and I looked forward right now, and I saw me right now. What would 20? What would20 year old me think? And I often think, you know, I would think that me at 20 would look at me now in number one, I hope that that 20 year old would be proud and surprise, you know, she’d be surprised that I’m blonde. But yeah. We’re just getting Whoa, we like the job you’re doing. Um, oh, you’re married, and we’ve actually been married a long time? But, but I would think that that 20 year old might actually, you know, question whether I had to change to, to be, you know, to grow into this, you know, did I have to give up my values, did my passion fall, fall  away? You know, was I challenged or, you know, where my values threatened along the way. And when I when I think of it and reflect of it that way, my advice to that 20 year old is just to say, you know, you’re already worked really hard. You’re never you know, you don’t you know, you’ve got that. I just want you to know, you’re actually not going to have to change who you are in order to do all of that. And there are going to be times where you think you do, I just want you to know, you’re already enough, you will be that same person just grown up and different and better. And your capacity will have grown, but your values won’t have changed at all. So just go.

Graeme Cowan 53:13

One final question. Is there anything relevant that we haven’t discussed?

Ellen Derrick 53:25

Just having to think. We’ve covered a lot of ground.

Graeme Cowan 53:30

We have.

Ellen Derrick 53:32

And I’ve really I’m lucky, I’ve really enjoyed the conversation. I don’t think so.

Graeme Cowan 53:40

Well, it might be another day we catch up again, and there’s sure to be a lot more stuff to go through then, Ellen, you really champion this leader that pursues both a culture of care and a culture of high performance. And I hope there’s lots of women and also men that really see how your growth mindset and your commitment to a really great teamwork produces great results. It’s been a pleasure having you on here, Ellen, thanks for being part of the caring CEO podcast.

Ellen Derrick 54:15

Thank you so much, Graeme

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