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Hello and welcome to the show, today we have another absolute superstar on the show, a huge overachiever and I say that with love as I am a huge admirer.  Our guest today Trenna Probert lit the corporate finance world alight for many years before going out on her own. She has had a very varied and diverse career in finance and is proof that, if you don’t limit yourself there is a world of opportunity out there. She’s now CEO of an innovative organization she set up with her husband.

This podcast is a “must listen” for anyone keen to understand what type of organization you’re suited to, how you can crack into blue chip corporate and importantly get sponsored to succeed in those organisations, particularly finance.  This episode is absolutely chock-a-block with career advice on how you can, ultimately enjoy a diverse, rich and fulfilling career.

Kylie:

It’s my absolute pleasure to welcome Trenna Probert today.

Please talk me through your career starting from early days and right up to today.

Trenna:

I’m in my mid 40s now and like most people my pathway started accidentally when I was still in school, I took jobs in hospitality to earn money and through that process I discovered I have the ability to work efficiently and effectively and build connections with people quickly. I also discovered that I’m a people person and that’s what really underpinned my choices in my career to date. I found that hospitality is really a great place to start because you learn how to engage and read people, which are both crucial in the business.

Kylie:

Hospitality really is a great place to start and many of my successful guests on this show also started out in hospitality.

Trenna:

I was only 16 when I got to University and didn’t have a view of where I wanted to go in life. Coming from a traditional family, there’s a view that you need to go University and then identify a specific role. I was quite successful in school. I was commercially focused and hospitality was an interesting way to get a view of different types of businesses. It was during those early days that I realised I had an interest in business. I came through University thinking I had no interest in what I had studied and ended up coming to Sydney and got my first job. I was 21 and the company gave me a job in the sales and marketing – my role was to look after the VIPs. That really helped and I got an incredible grounding and quickly moved through the ranks and doing different things and getting exposure to a lot of people.

At 23 I was headhunted by a gentleman who was a Vice President in charge of corporate travelling and corporate cards at American Express. He created a role for me and that set the tone for the rest of my career. At AMEX, the role I took was in business analysis and I developed relationships with the CEOs of the top 100 corporate clients they had. I encountered a lot of resistance from a lot of the people already in the business and certainly encountered a lot of challenges within the organisation but had fantastic support. Over the next seven years I proceeded with a lot of different things.

Kylie:

It’s great to hear that you developed an understanding early on that you were a people person and that’s an important point. The more we know ourselves the more we are in the best position to find the role that’s going to light us up from the inside. Another fascinating thing you said was that you never really applied for a real job. Jobs were created for you. Another thing, you talked about was having a sponsor in the business. It really is important to have a mentor or mentors early on in your career.

Trenna:

Being a young women in business can be challenging. I certainly know that there were a lot of people judging me based on my age and what I looked like.

Kylie:

Keep going with your amazing journey...

Trenna:

In hospitality, it’s also about doing anything that you do in life and doing it well. I really do try to take the same level of energy, commitment, warmth and interest to every task and interaction. For me, that’s the secret to having a vibrant, varied, exciting and rewarding career.

Kylie:

Even with the simplest of tasks when it’s done with extra intention, it’s powerful, appreciated and noticed.

Trenna:

After American Express, I became an entrepreneur. I’d set up a goal that I wanted to start my own business before I turned 30 and I was able to achieve that by a number of months. What I really learned is that there’s nothing to be afraid of. I didn’t go broke and I did make money but I didn’t create the type of business that I thought I was going to create. What I learned were all the things that I wouldn’t do in business when I setup business again. They were: 1) Never be so desperate to generate income for your business to take on any client or any job; 2) Partnerships need to be scrutinized carefully – it’s critical that your values are aligned; 3) It was hard at asking the people to pay the bill.

Kylie:

It’s interesting, you’ve learnt so much in your first business. Your learnings actually mirror my own, when I first went on my own also.

Trenna:

Just 5 months ago, I launched my most recent business. What I actually started with was a philosophy, a mission statement of sorts about 15 pages long. Within that is a framework for assessing the people that I want to bring into this business and the type of culture that I want to build. I’ve also done another iteration of that same framework to assess – what’s the type of work that we want to do; the type of people we want to work with and why; what’s the environment that we need to be able to perform a successful partnership.

Kylie:

It’s like when an individual chooses a specific role, you have to check in with your values. What’s important to you? What’s the environment need to be like for you to succeed? Only after you’ve asked yourselves these questions can you make a decision as to whether a role is right for you or not.

Trenna:

I couldn’t agree more. I spend a lot of time talking to people who are either unsure of what next step to take in their career or how to get the most of their role now. There are a couple of things I urge them to do: 1) I ask them so step back and think about themselves in a different way; 2) and ask what kind of culture fits you?

Kylie:

From a HR standpoint, the two things that keep people the stickiest is 1) the direct manager 2) when they feel like they’re adding value outside themselves.

Trenna:

When I ended up going back to the corporate, I went to work for Macquarie Bank. The culture was really perfect for me in some ways and completely wrong in others.

Kylie:

So what happened after Macquarie?

Trenna:

The thing that has probably characterized all of my corporate career is the opportunity to work with large budgets with really smart people and interesting projects. What characterized my work in American Express and Macquarie was that  I always work in businesses where there’s a lot of variety and the ability to have a complex, rich experience working with a lot of areas but within one organisation. Before Macquarie, I was running a small financial planning and mortgage consultancy.

Kylie:

You said you’d never go back to corporate again, why is that?

Trenna:

I really love working with corporations from the outside and I find they love working with me in this capacity also.

Kylie:

Being a successful entrepreneur yourself, I’d love to hear your top tips for what does makes somebody successful in the entrepreneur space?

Trenna:

Now days I think there’s a much better understanding that you can do a lot of different things and still have a successful career. I think it’s important for people to understand that you can have a very flexible approach to building your career and that includes setting up your own business.

My biggest tips for people who are thinking about setting up their own business is:

1) to have a very strong understanding of the “why” – so why am I doing it? That’s going to hold you through the tough times.

2) Remember that there are so many resources and network of support out there – do your research, look around, reach out to people;

3) be confident – don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it.

4) It’s important to remember that failing is actually okay.

Kylie:

There are so many things you’ve said that I’ve really connected with – the ‘why’ in particular is so important. If you don’t have that strong ‘why’ that you can connect into then it’ll become difficult to keep going when times get tough.

Trenna:

Yeah and you kind of need to love it.

Kylie:

Was there a pivotal moment for you, a catalyst, that made you decide to go out on your own?

Trenna:

I think I’m just hungry. My mind is always full of different ideas and I never seem to run out of energy. I think I was ready to do it. I had a partner who was supportive. The real pivotal moment for me was when I left Macquarie and set up a consultancy at that point with strong encouragement from my husband. For me it was just incredible having the belief and support of someone whom I respect so greatly.

Kylie:

I couldn’t agree more. In addition, people who will not only support you blindly, but people who you really trust that have your back is really important.

Trenna:

Yes, it’s very important and also you need to be willing get feedback from people you don’t necessarily trust.

Kylie:

In terms of how people can contact you, we’ll put your LinkedIn in the show notes and people can watch you and learn more about this exciting new business.

Trenna:

That would be wonderful and people should always feel free to reach out and I’m always happy to chat to anybody.

Kylie:

Awesome! Thank you again for being on the show.

Trenna:

Thank you

Kylie:

Wow!  That was 50 mins of pure gold.  There are so many takeaways in this podcast I’d strongly suggest you have a squiz at the show notes to make sure you didn’t miss any.  I’d also suggest that you go to my site so that you can sign up for more golden career advice, motivation and inspiration.  Each week I send out an email that contains valuable career guidance to keep you energized  and inspired to reach new career heights.

You can find the lovely Trenna at www.revolvercapital.com or via LinkedIn at https://au.linkedin.com/in/trennaprobert