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Looking back, moving forward: Gina McCartney

During a tumultuous 2020, the Executive Manager of Customer Excellence at REA Group found the old adage of putting on your own oxygen mask first was quite true. Gina McCartney realised that, to re-energise, she'd have to start acknowledging her own struggles.

2020 has been a watershed year. There have been unexpected hurdles, times to check in on what really matters, to reassess our goals and look towards a hopeful future.

In the final issue of our magazine for 2020, we asked some of our industry leaders how they found the past year, and what they’re looking forward to in 2021.

2020 in one word?

Unusual (pronounced with Kath and Kim accents).

Give us some highlights?

In business, I changed roles, set up a customer excellence function and moved to a 100 per cent virtual working arrangement.

I tried moving from paper to digital to-do lists but failed – four times.

I introduced more ‘catchups’ than normal with my team, and this has helped me stay connected, but also ensure we continue to build rapport amongst a new team.

One initiative my team introduced was our ‘hallway guest’ drop-ins. This helped us stay connected with those we don’t see in our normal meetings.

Personally, I found I was starting to bottle up how I was really feeling in order to help others get through their struggles.

I was assuming that being brave, positive and optimistic was what everyone needed from me. I emptied my tank and had little left to operate on.

I realised that to re-energise, I’d have to talk about my struggles, both at home and at work.

This has helped lift a huge weight off my shoulders and encouraged others to do the same.

What will you leave in 2020?

I can’t wait to leave screen time behind in 2020. I am spending way more time on my devices (at least five hours more), particularly during work hours.

Aside from my eyesight deteriorating and headaches increasing, it’s becoming increasingly dissatisfying being a slave to my devices.

What worked for you in 2020?

No travel time to and from work has been a huge win this year. I’ve reclaimed about 1.5 hours each day, and that has had a big impact on stress levels and leaves more time with my husband and pooch.

There is no doubt this taste of balance is something I want to hold onto when things return to ‘normal’ or ‘more-usual’.

What’s your focus for 2021?

I’m deeply passionate about customer experience (CX), and I’m going to commit to spending more time talking about it, both in my role and within my network.

I want to really help connect the dots between customer experience and business value.

There are so many resources, people and networks who focus on this topic, so I’d like to share and learn more.

How will you stay on track?

I normally stay on track by telling someone I’ll do something, so I suppose that is my commitment!

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