Initially trained as a nurse in the mental health field, Simon Walsh began working for Allambi Care as a Youth Care Worker in 1998 and successfully moved through the company, taking on the CEO role in 2013.
Simon is a passionate advocate for the community and the human services sector and has been at the forefront of developing policy and service delivery for Allambi Care and its stakeholders.
Simon approaches his work from a relational, needs-based model of care. He gains great satisfaction from working with a cohesive multidisciplinary team and seeing positive results achieved by children, young people and families. He attributes much of the agency’s success to the dedicated and committed staff who work with Allambi Care, as well as the innovative practice that he has learnt through national and international relationships.
- What makes a good leader?
At the heart of it, I think someone who can walk the talk; someone who’s able to do all the things that they are asking of their staff and the people around them. I think also it is important to have a really good idea of what you’re trying to achieve and make sure that you can explain that and it is well understood by all the people around you.
- What do you believe has shaped your leadership style?
I think I’ve had a really rich upbringing, so that’s been a really positive experience. All of my family has been involved in giving back to the community, and they’ve played a really significant role in regards to leadership in many different facets, so for me that was always really inspiring. I’ve always seen the impact that that had on other people and the change that you can bring about just through your natural gifts that you can share with other people. So that’s probably number one.
And other than that, just witnessing other leaders that I’ve worked for over time and other people that I’ve worked with who have been able to get the best out of people using a relational aspect or a relational approach. I wouldn’t ask anything of my staff that I wouldn’t expect that I could do myself. So for me, a leader who is able to lead that way or to inspire other people to be able to take the reins is exactly how I’ve sort of taken on my role as the CEO.
- What motivates and drives you?
I think I’ve always been really lucky to have an amazing team around me. I think those guys that I work with, they’re an amazing bunch of people who give the best of themselves all the time. I’ve been with the same organisation now for the past 25 years. And being in the industry that we’re in, I’m very fortunate to know that on every single day I can wake up and there’s something better that we could be doing for people. And I think for me, that’s a pretty impressive job to the end where you can actually know that every day you go to work and you can actually do something better.
There’s a lot, sadly, that needs to be done in the human services sort of industry, but like I said, it is really exciting to be around a group of people who share that passion for wanting to do well for others. So the endless possibilities of what you can do is probably what drives me as well as the good things we can bring.
- What is one action or task you ensure you incorporate into your diary each week?
I think the importance of making time for myself and my family. It’s what drives me and motivates me and it’s what human service is all about. It is replicating what I have and being able to give back to other people. So I always make time to look after myself in the health perspective, it may not look like that all of the time, but I’m certainly always trying to make time for myself. I also just love being there and making sure that I’m with family and engaging with multiple things across their life as well, and making sure that that comes as a priority each week.
I also love starting my day off with a coffee with our staff. It gives me the opportunity to talk to some of our staff and engage with them, so I guess that’s two things. But certainly, I love to start my day, every day just having a chat with my staff and engaging and seeing where they’re at in a very informal way of connecting.
- Which local businessperson do you find inspiring?
There’s probably a few. The one that comes to mind mostly though is a bit obscure, and every day I start my day by going to the local Coles and getting some food for the family. There’s a local business owner there who’s a news agent, and every day he takes the time to check in, gives you a head nod. His staff are always happy and he’s extremely happy. There’s never a day that goes past that he’s not interested in other people and what’s going on, and I mean, there’s a genuineness around that. And I think that really reflects everything that I try to do in my workplace. Although that’s so simple, I don’t know if he understands how important that is, and that indication that he gives me and that acknowledgement everyday as a customer, as a person who walks past his shop, it’s just everything I think, and I replicate it so much where I can.
Based in Charlestown, Allambi Care is a not-for-profit organisation and exists to provide support and services to families and children who are at risk by providing access to programs. These include intensive therapeutic residential care, foster care, homelessness services, disability and NDIS services, and outreach programs. Allambi Care services the Hunter Region of NSW and includes a team of more than 700 staff.