Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading
7 Questions with Cheryl Gray
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Cheryl Gray
Current title:Chief Business Officer
A global Brand, Communications and Marketing Leader with more than 20 years experience across Australia, UK, Middle East, Africa and Asia. Launched numerous award winning campaigns.
Accomplished 'Intrapreneur' having built esports ecosystems and numerous global partnerships involving music, content, influencers and digital platforms.
Proud indigenous Australian and Mum.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Driving change and innovating in legacy environments is very difficult. You need a strong and visionary CEO and Leadership Team to drive an innovation and entrepreneurial mindset and push people out of their comfort zone to learn and adapt to new ways of working and collaborating.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had been working in mid-management for many years as a Brand Director. But it was only until I moved to Cellcard in Cambodia that I found a great mentor in my CEO. I was able to learn and adapt to his approach to running a business. Then I was able to demonstrate that I am much more capable of just managing the Brand, but could also contribute to revenue, products and services and innovation. I was promoted to C-Level to lead strategic innovation projects and the youth segment.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Each day holds something new and that's what motivates me. Whether it is a new idea, a great conversation with a partner or a stunning piece of work where you can sit back and feel that you and the team have accomplished something amazing.
Great work needs focus so you have to be flexible to drop all the meetings and activities that don't contribute value and be happy to spend the time needed to turn good work into great.
Long pointless meetings and calls that don't generate anything are a waste of time and energy.
Then there is family time in the morning and nights for sharing meals and communicating - which is vital especially during the pandemic.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
For me the most recent lesson I have learned is to show and share with your team that you are human. Show that you care and respect them and value them for all their contributions. This is how my team brings their A-Game each day. You cannot buy loyalty or passion. My team knows when they are tired and need time off. They know when they need to take family time off. And if things are not going well in their lives they feel free to talk to me about it.
We never know what hardships our people are dealing with in their personal lives. So I never jump in fast to be critical or to blame. Rather I look to see what's really going on. Show integrity and you receive it back in loads.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
For me this piece of literacy exemplifies that great leaders are those who not only have great minds with specific skills (such as astronomy and mathematics in this case) but also see and appreciate the beauty and meaning of life itself.
It is a powerful yet delicate piece of work.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Most Leadership Teams are assembled with very different people - different skills, experiences, personalities, education and management styles. Unless you truly learn to trust, engage and communicate to each other as equals, then you will always remain silos as leaders and a siloed organisation will result.
The best work is a result of collaboration and co-creation which then leads to innovation and continuous improvement. Then you have a sandpit for growth and new opportunities.
Using external and expert facilitators to grow a healthy leadership culture is the best investment any company can make.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I was once working on a large project and it involved many team leads from across the business. EachTeam Leads meeting was fighting fires, resolving difficult issues and always asking people to do above and beyond.
But everyone looked forward to the meetings and were connected to the work and bonded as a team. We were delivering this project together and for each other for the good of the company (and hence their own careers).
Unfortunately we had three leadership changes during this project and the most recent one stepped into our weekly meeting and was rude and dictatorial having no understanding of the challenges we were working through.
Within 5 minutes they had eroded the team's passion.
We delivered the project, it was a great success.
But nobody felt good about it.
The speech given by the said leader at the launch fell on deaf ears.