Inspiration | Telstra Careers |

How I foster team connection as a leader in the digital age

By Aaliah Eggins-Bryson July 27, 2020

As more of us work from home, or even just in different locations from our co-workers, leaders need to continuously evolve and lead in a different way.

Although we have amazing virtual connectivity tools available to us here at Telstra, as a leader I’ve learned that it requires a truly conscious effort on my part to ensure that my remote teams remain engaged.

How I’ve approached my role as a leader when it comes to creating a cohesive team culture

It is leaders who set the culture of a team and who are responsible for fostering an environment of connection and cohesion, regardless of where everyone is located. Physically separated people don’t get the hallway conversation, the quick desk huddle or the ad hoc whiteboard session. Because of this, I’ve made sure to keep inclusiveness and team connectivity front of mind.

I’ve also continued to set clear and achievable goals, encourage active engagement from everyone in the team, have open communication and ensure that every single member of my team can directly attribute their effort and output to our greater team purpose.

My team at Telstra has recently moved to an agile working methodology, which has further strengthened our cohesiveness – every member of the team is required to help deliver the end-to-end outcome.

What I’ve been doing to foster connectivity with my remote team

Despite being physically apart, I’ve been working to keep my team feeling connected by doing the following things:

  • Having open conversations, building trust within the team and amongst team members, and having regular team bonding sessions. One great example of the success of my team bonding activities is from a team member of mine who was overwhelmed by an upcoming deadline. I asked her to think about what she could ask of her peers in terms of contribution and we planned out a “who does what”. She then set up a session with her plan, asking for input from everyone in the team, facilitated by a shared document on Microsoft Teams. By that afternoon, everything she’d asked for (and more) was updated in the document, ready to be presented the following day. I know this relieved a huge burden for her, not only for the deadline, but also in knowing that she could genuinely rely on her teammates to help her when asked.
  • Making sure that the team has a clear purpose. I continue to set ambitious but achievable goals and make it clear to every person in the team exactly how their contribution will deliver part or all the outcome.
  • Ensuring everyone feels comfortable seeking help and knows that support is available. I’ve observed people in the past try to resolve big issues by themselves and often if they had just asked for support, someone in their team could have offered valuable input. 

Aaliah working from home with her family dog

The most important leadership skill I possess, especially when it comes to a remote workforce, is communication 

No two people are the same, so it’s been important for me to work out the most effective method of communication for each of my team members.

I believe that my communication as a leader should be consistent and regular for certain things, like performance discussions. Aside from that though, ad hoc conversations can really be left up to the relationship I have with the individual and their personal needs and style.

In terms of channels used and the frequency of communication, I’ve determined what works best for each member of my team and gone with that when communicating with that individual. Some of them are entirely autonomous and only need to speak to me occasionally, whilst others demand more time. Some people prefer emails, some are happier for me to just give them a call.

Telstra makes remote working easy for its people

Telstra has always been amazing with supporting leaders and teams when it comes to flexible and remote working. The COVID-19 restrictions have just reinforced this.

We have a top-notch collaboration tools, which I appreciate more each day. I have realised during lockdown how lucky I am to have such readily available and effective tools that help me to do my work.

In a time of increasingly remote workforces, I’ve been reminded how crucial it is to continuously approach the leadership of my team with their connectivity top of mind. By maintaining appropriate communication patterns and inclusive initiatives, I’ve ensured that my team remains cohesive, no matter how physically far apart they may be.

Are you interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at Telstra? Head to the Telstra Careers website.

Amanthi R Thudugalage - Telstra Intern to Networks Engineer
Advice | Inspiration | People | Telstra Careers |

An internship with Telstra helped me discover my passion

By Amanthi Thudugalage July 20, 2020

A common question that plagues the mind of a PhD student is whether to stay ensconced in academia, or to leave the comforting ivory tower and venture out into the wild unknowns of industry.

Studying a PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Melbourne, I had the same thoughts and doubts. I was afraid; I did not know what monsters lurked in the unknown, what dragons lived at the edge of the map. However, curiosity drove my desire to explore so I sought out opportunities.

One day, my PhD supervisor told me about an internship at Telstra offered through APR.Intern. This sounded like an excellent opportunity for me to test the waters, and to investigate a potential career path without committing.

When I read the project description, I found that it was in an area related to my studies including a strong practical component. This made me excited to get started on real-world practical problem-solving.

My internship experience was amazing – I gained new skills, had the opportunity to apply my mathematical and programming skills, and I worked with kind and encouraging people; it was all I could have hoped for and more.

My internship supervisors from both Telstra and University of Melbourne were friendly and encouraging and I learned many things from them. Most importantly, the experience transformed me from being a student to a professional.

Towards the end of my internship, I had my heart set on having a career at Telstra. The monsters of my fear were all slain and the dragons vanquished.

My hard work did not go unnoticed at Telstra. I was offered a position in the same team that I was working during the internship. After finishing my PhD, I have been working full-time as a Senior Networks Engineer.

These days, my work involves modelling wireless networks to analyse the customer impact of introducing new products or changing network configurations – giving me plenty of opportunity to spread my mathematical wings. I also get the chance to work with cutting-edge technologies such as 5G and Narrowband-IoT, which makes my work very interesting.

The work environment is welcoming and friendly, too, and Telstra invites interns and graduates with varying levels of experience every year. This not only helps young professionals to build up their careers but also allows the business to recruit fresh, innovative minds. In my opinion, it’s a win-win for both parties.

When I look back at my journey, I realise how extremely fortunate I have been. Every day at work I apply my skills and knowledge to solve problems in a professional environment, all while doing what I love.

During these unprecedented times, Telstra has made a massive effort to ensure the health and safety of its employees. Telstra has set an example by being one of the first Australian businesses to accommodate working from home for all office-based employees. Personally, I have struggled; I miss the pre-COVID-19 personal interaction with my colleagues. However, I am fortunate to be a part of a company that has made it possible to remain working through the uncertainty.

If you are a student and find such an opportunity presented to you, my advice is: jump in!  You might not wind up where you think you’re going to, but you’ll certainly have an interesting adventure along the way.

Ankita in an online team meeting
Inspiration | Telstra Careers |

An insight into working in Telstra’s virtual team environment

By Ankita Suryavanshi June 15, 2020

As someone who has recently joined a new team at Telstra, taking the leap from working in the office to being part of a virtual team has required some adaptation.

There are, of course, certain challenges that come with working remotely, but I have found that there are numerous benefits as well. Most importantly, Telstra has such a fantastic culture, with a strong emphasis on teamwork, supporting each other and continuous learning. This has resulted in a feeling of connection and the ability to stay productive regardless of where I’m located.

What my days look like 

When we started working remotely, I was pretty much freestyling it and getting up just before office hours. But soon I realised that this routine was making me miserable, so I decided to create a timetable.

Though the basic structure stays the same – wake early, do a home workout, work, play with my dog, spend time with my family and watch TV – I do different things every day to avoid getting bored.

For example, my workouts vary between an online class, yoga or a walk, and my exact working and lunch hours depend on what meetings I have throughout the day. I also make sure that I stretch my legs at some point or sit outside for ten minutes in the sun.

The benefits of working remotely 

The biggest benefit for me has been the change in my work-life balance. I don’t spend any time commuting to work, which means I have more time to spend with my family. Before, the only time my entire family would get together and talk our day was during dinner. Now, we use that time to learn new recipes and cook them together and have a lot more family movie nights.

In terms of the workload, I feel like my stress levels have lessened. I used to always be worried about finishing everything on time because I had to leave to get home or to other commitments. Now, I can just work a little later if I want to get something done, and then take the night off.

I’m also enjoying the lack of commuting. Travelling takes a lot out of you, especially if you live far from the office, like me where it takes an hour door to door. It doesn’t sound too bad but it’s quite exhausting during peak hour! 

And the challenges

The biggest struggle has been not being able to see my colleagues and friends from work. I didn’t think it would be a big deal since we have great collaboration tools, but I didn’t consider how much I had gotten used to having people around me.

I miss the snack runs with my friends in the Telstra Graduate Program, the coffee catch-ups with my leader, and even just walking up to someone and asking for help. But again, as with everything else, I’ve adjusted, and it’s gotten easier.

Another challenge is keeping my home life and work life separate. Because my computer is nearby all the time when I am at home, it can be easy to ‘just check this one email and then close my laptop’ – but once you open that laptop, it can take a long time to close. So, you really need to make sure that you resist the temptation. My suggestion would be that once you decide that you’ve finished work for the day, do an activity that distracts you, such as cooking or watching a movie.

A great team keeps you connected and engaged 

I’ve been surrounded by the best co-workers throughout my time here. My new team is no exception. They’re very close-knit and when I joined, they instantly made me feel like a valued team member. Everyone is always encouraging and willing to help, which for me is a big motivator. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my leader and other team members to learn about the team’s goals and the fact they’re available to share their thoughts with me has kept me connected and engaged since I started.

We always make sure that our cameras are on when we have team calls so that we can see each other. And once a week we have a ‘walking meeting’, where everyone goes for a walk and dials into the meeting via their mobile phone. We started this to make sure that we’re not always sitting at our desks and are getting a bit of a break.

You learn so much as a graduate at Telstra and it’s such an enjoyable place to work. Moving into a remote working situation, for the time being, has been made a lot easier by the supportive, friendly and engaged culture of the company, which has continued despite the shift into a virtual work environment. I feel very lucky to be a part of the Telstra team.

If you’re interested in beginning your career at a company that’s committed to supporting the development of their people, check out our jobs.

Sakshi Banerjee shares her top leadership tips
Advice | Telstra Careers |

Four leadership tips I’d give my 20-year-old self

By Sakshi Banerjee March 12, 2020

In 2010, I was a bright-eyed intern with big dreams for the future. Now, a decade later, I’m the Group Performance Principal for the Global IoT Solutions product portfolio at Telstra.

It feels like my journey as a leader has barely begun – but I’ve already learned so much since I was that hopeful summer vacationer. If I could deliver those learnings to myself a decade ago, they might look something like this:

1. Becoming a leader starts with intent

It may sound obvious but to succeed at anything, you have to start by saying, “I’m going to do it.”

Something I’ve noted throughout my career journey is that some women tend to hesitate to take on new opportunities when we don’t quite meet 100 per cent of the criteria. The reality is most of us never will! It’s all about taking a chance anyway and just doing it (Nike has a point!).

You may underestimate your resourcefulness, instincts and experience, but you will figure it out. For those starting out, put your hand up for a project or initiative that falls outside of your comfort zone – it’s a great way to test yourself.

2. Lead by example

This is a piece of advice my most recent boss gave me – and it truly struck a chord. Think hard about the values, behaviors and style you want to represent, as they will be reflected in how your team behaves and interacts.

How you react to good news, bad news, wins and failures, how you celebrate shared achievements with your own team and even how you choose to address or not address gossip: it’s the sum of all these reactions that leaves an impression on your team members.

3. Be yourself

I used to believe that leadership was a cookie-cutter mold I needed to fit into. But over the years, I have seen lots of inspiring leaders own their uniqueness. It wasn’t conforming that made them great leaders – it was their quirks that made them authentic.

The suits, managerial buzzwords and demeanor I thought were so important as a graduate truly fell away once I continued with my career. After all, anyone can wear a blazer, but it takes something special to be a sincere, effective leader.

Sakshi says authenticity is important for all leaders

4. Never stop learning

I prefer not to spruik books or frameworks as I believe people need to formulate their own thinking, but I do recommend The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. As a leader, you’ll need to have uncomfortable and difficult conversations. Ben’s book talks about how to tackle some of these hard conversations, and his writing style is very easy to read.

Reading and self-education in general are especially important for leaders. But don’t worry too much about following frameworks or only reading books that relate to your field. Rather, read about a variety of topics and you’ll find yourself expanding your general knowledge and critical thinking – which is invaluable for all aspects of life.

Want to learn about my role and hear about Telstra’s IoT journey? Watch the video below.

Ready to expand your professional horizons? Check out open roles at Telstra.

Bettina Marson is passionate about supporting women in technology roles.
Inspiration | Telstra Careers |

Inspiring the next generation of women in tech

By Bettina Marson March 5, 2020

All around the world, there are fewer women than men in technology fields. History has shown that a lack of diversity limits not only our own ways of thinking but how we work together as teams and how successful we are as companies.

In a world that is so diverse, it only makes sense that the tech industry would reflect this as well.

My path to becoming a UX/UI designer

Since I was little, I’ve been fascinated with technology and its power to enrich lives. As a child, technology seemed to grow up alongside me. Each year offered new innovations and opened my mind to a world of possibilities.

When it came to choosing my path at university, UX/UI design became a natural choice for me as I knew that technology could help make people’s dreams come true.

A day in my life as a UX/UI designer at Telstra

As a UX designer at Telstra, no two days are alike for me – just the way I like it.

UX/UI design is a combination of artistic creativity, human psychology and technology and every day gives me the opportunity to flex both my creative and analytical brain simultaneously.

Most of my time is spent on agile projects at different stages of production, so I can be doing anything from creating wireframes and finished UI, gathering insights from users, to writing research pieces and analyses.

The most exciting part of my role is seeing a product I’ve worked on make the journey from design, user testing, to implementation, and finally into the customer’s hands.

A recent project that’s given me great satisfaction is designing the UX/UI for one of our internal mobile applications. People can now see the availability of spaces on floors, book spaces and meeting rooms, and collaborate with colleagues. It’s made their lives easier and more productive – there is no greater reward than that.

Bettina Marson loves her technology role at Telstra

My advice for women looking to enter the tech field

A supportive team and great mentors go a long way in helping you break down the walls. No one person can succeed without the help and personal investment from others, so learning to cooperate and work together is key to successfully establishing a career and professional network.

Develop your skills to be brave, try new things, adapt and change rapidly. Be open-minded, try subjects and activities in STEM (science, technology, education and maths), and always look forward to failing fast, as failure is the only way we can learn to succeed.

How does Telstra champion women in tech?

There are many ways Telstra supports women in tech, both internally and in the wider community.

Within Telstra, we celebrate women in tech by raising awareness, providing women with opportunities to establish strong networks, and help them navigate their careers within the tech industry. Our Brilliant Connected Women network supports members and host events such as International Women’s Day. We regularly invite female tech leaders to share their stories and insights into achieving success in their chosen specialisations.

Telstra is part of the Male Champions of Change Founding Group, a gold sponsor for Chief Executive Women and a sponsor of Females in IT and Telecommunications.

Recognising the role that we have in changing the future, we’ve been involved with programs that reach school-age girls so that we can break down the systematic challenges women face in tech, highlighting STEM career paths and hosting groups such as code like a girl’.

Our goal for 2020

Several years ago, Telstra recognised a need for more female talent within the company. That is why it publicly committed to ensuring that recruitment and interview shortlists include at least 50 percent female representation or 25 per cent in some specified roles where there is a gender imbalance in the job market.

There are many initiatives that will help us get there:

  • Teams can collaborate online through tools like Microsoft Teams, Yammer and SharePoint. This inherently increases opportunities for many women who have families, who volunteer, and who have care-taking commitments that other employers may not accommodate.
  • We offer 16 weeks parental leave for both male and female employees.
  • The Telstra Graduate Program prides itself on attracting a diverse pool of top talent and actively encourages women to apply.

I am proud to be part of an organisation that has fully embraced diversity, celebrated change, and created a fairer, more open-minded and inclusive environment in which women can thrive.

For women looking to forge a path in technology, check out our jobs at Telstra.