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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading

7 Questions with Sandra Janne Willie

helps you in your leadership.



Jonno White

7 Questions with Sandra Janne Willie

Name: Sandra Janne Willie

Current title: CEO

Current organisation: Suicide Programs

Sandra is a dedicated, lived experience professional with a focus on suicide intervention and prevention. She is passionate about building a knowledge base and community in which a person at risk of suicide has support and others in the community have knowledge, resources, and understanding. Sandra works to achieve this through training and connection, particularly in the area of suicide awareness, prevention and intervention. Drawing upon many years of industry experience, Sandra brings a wealth of knowledge of the impact of mental illness and suicide and focuses on assisting recovery so that everybody can live a full and meaningful life. Participants in training she has delivered have stated that her experience adds depth and understanding to all program curriculum. Sandra is the CEO of Suicide Programs and CALM Consulting, a Master Mental Health First-Aid Instructor, qualified Lifelines Trilogy suicide prevention program for schools and qualified counselor and member of the Australian Counselling Association.

7 Questions with Sandra Janne Willie


1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?

Juggling so many 'balls' and finding the right fit to delegate tasks to the appropriate person.

2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I am the CEO of my own company. And this how how the story begins...our family has lost close family members to suicide and my training at Lifeline and the Australian College of Community Services has taught me that with the right skills suicide is preventable. I began my journey in this space in 2009 whilst studying counselling and working on the crisis line at Lifeline. I soon discovered that many people given circumstances that created a sense of hopelessness found themselves in this space. Mid 2016 my passion for working in this area to contribute to saving lives led me to start my company, trading as Suicide Programs. I was able to use my knowledge and skills to deliver programs that effectively gave others the skills and tools to help save lives from suicide.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I usually have a long 'to do' list that I prioritise each morning, making sure all pressing items are covered during the day. I usually start working in the office at 7:30am as this allows a catch up from the day before when the telephone isn't ringing! My routine for the day rarely changes with small breaks in between working towards deadlines. It's important to ensure when working in this space that you have a doable work/life balance to ensure you have sufficient energy and motivation during your working day.

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Learning to work with the things you can control and letting go of the things we can't control, and being productive where it counts.

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?

The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle. Being fully present and in the moment has made a significant difference to my interactions with work colleagues, and clients. Giving others time and attention and listening carefully to thoughts and concerns builds strong relationships.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?

Leadership capacity is probably not a real concern in our small enterprise, so I don't have an answer for you on this question.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?

It's difficult to pinpoint one meaningful story. As you may well imagine when your cohort of clients work with clients experiencing suicidal thoughts, the stories are many and varied from success to despair. One story that does stand out is a client who learnt our CALM training program and shortly afterwards, she had an overseas call from a friend who raised her concerns about suicide. Our client was able to have a conversation about suicide and assisted her friend to develop a safety plan using our app 'Be Safe Suicide' and she saved her friends life from suicide.

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