How positive influence can benefit organisations

Elisabeth (Liz) Lampert CPA and Tony Citera CPA, Australia Post.

Tony Citera CPA and Elisabeth (Liz) Lampert CPA have pooled their knowledge, capabilities and people skills to influence change and work towards outcomes that benefit their whole organisation.

Tony Citera CPA

General manager, capital management and procurement, Australia Post

I came into Australia Post a little more than two years ago as the new general manager for capital management.

It’s recently changed in a restructure to include the procurement function.

Upon joining, Liz wasn’t my direct report, but following a team review, I restructured the team and I made her one of my direct reports.

My first assessment of Liz was of someone who’s really knowledgeable and can deal with lots of complexity in projects. I used to hear fantastic customer and stakeholder feedback, even unsolicited.

Capital management handles and manages the project management office for Australia Post, and my staff work directly with the project managers to help them with how they plan and spend their funds. Liz is right in the middle of all that, and the dynamics of her projects require her to be adaptable and flexible in her thinking, but also a problem-solver they can lean on.

What I appreciate about Liz is that she is not a “Yes” person – she’s not someone who tells me, as her manager, the things I want to hear.

She’ll give me what’s really going on, and that’s valuable for me as a leader.

I also find that she will always give you options that are for the greater good. They might not be the best outcome in the short term, but strategically they are the right options to consider. She also comes up with lots of ideas. She is always someone I can lean on and ask probing questions to get a balanced response.

Liz wears her heart on her sleeve. Her body language sometimes gives away what she’s thinking. That’s not a negative – she’s authentic and genuine – but, at times, you may have to “read the room” and not give away too much.

Her people leadership is one of her strengths, because people just love her, the way she works with them and gives them enough autonomy to make their roles interesting and engaging. She helps create a safe environment to challenge the status quo and looks at different ways of how we can do our roles.

What would Tony change about Liz?

Probably her ability to influence is something that I’d like her to focus on more. A level of influence also makes you a better accountant, when you can influence outcomes that are for the greater good of our enterprise.

CPA Library resource: Lead and influence: get more ownership, commitment, and achievement from your team. Read now.

Elisabeth (Liz) Lampert CPA

Project accounting manager, Australia Post

My first impressions of Tony were that he was very open and friendly, and good at bringing our team together.

He expects results and a high-performing team, but equally he endeavours to be very collaborative in the way that he works. From my perspective, he’s been very good at listening to issues or questions and things that you might not normally get buy-in from management at that level. He will actually follow up on the challenges that we have or roadblocks we might hit.

Tony’s probably more outgoing than your stereotypical accountant.

He’s a very open person, pretty down-to-earth, knows what he wants, and he won’t accept poor work efforts. Our capital management team wasn’t previously front-of-mind across the finance teams and our stakeholders. Because of his outgoing personality and influence, Tony was able to promote our brand and value.

I would say I’m not as good of an influencer as Tony. He has the management level respect, credibility and ability to use his position to talk to the right people who wouldn’t necessarily be open to me to talk to. He’ll use the information he is given to then go out and influence outcomes.

My personal approach is suited to building up a trusting relationship with a stakeholder and proving my experience, which gives me the ability to influence them.

With such broad responsibilities, Tony doesn’t always have the detail at his fingertips – probably not that dissimilar, to be honest, to a lot of senior management. However, he ensures he has the right people around him whom he trusts, and who can help fill those gaps.

I’ve learned from him about backing yourself, not accepting mediocre and not being afraid to push harder to get the standard of work that is required. He encourages change, and if you believe it’s the right thing to do, to go for it! He will jump on board and help you make those things happen.

We’ve recently had a restructure, and Tony’s no longer my direct manager, so that has meant less interaction with him. My interactions with him are mainly through team meetings, but we used to have broader conversations and talk about our families and soccer.

What would Liz change about Tony?

He can be quite direct. At times, his words may miss the required context or background, but, ultimately, he is focused on achieving the right outcomes for the enterprise.

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