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Spending time with Angie Paskevicius


Recently I was fortunate enough to sit down with 2015 Telstra Business Woman award winner and Holyoake CEO Angie Paskevicius to hear her thoughts on leadership; here’s what she had to say!

What is it that makes Holyoake so meaningful to you?

There are so many things……

  • I love what we do as an organisation and I love what I do every day in my job.
  • There is a strong alignment between my own values and personal philosophy about life and those of Holyoake. The Holyoake approach is about self-responsibility, accepting and respecting the person at the place they are at and not judging. It’s about peer inspiration and person centred practice. This aligns well for me.
  • My purpose in life is about making a difference, about giving back, helping people achieve their potential, which in turn, ultimately transforms organisations…..I get to do this every day at Holyoake, along with all of our people.
  • I also love variety in my work and my role at Holyoake offers a diverse variety of activities….every day is different and interesting. I love the challenges that it often brings.
  • Finally, we are doing lots of innovative and interesting things at Holyoake. Our journey has been transformational and we are involved with many exciting partnerships and in leading edge innovations, particularly in the social enterprise space.

We have a great team of people at Holyoake doing amazing work with our clients.

Is there a difference in motivation in people working for a non profit organisation?

I think there is. Generally people are more passionate about their work and the outcomes they are working towards for their clients/consumers. People are there because they want to be. A key driver is ‘making a difference’, giving back, achieving the core purpose or mission of the organisation that they work for. People in the Not For Profit sector generally operate from a strong values base that is aligned to the values of the organisation they work for.

Can you take me through what the last 12 months has involved since winning the Telstra Business Woman of the Year

It’s just on 6 months. It was especially busy straight after and before Christmas and it’s been very busy so far this year. I have had considerable media contact – print, radio, social media, especially twitter. I have been interviewed about my journey and about leadership by a number of publications, including a book on inspirational WA women which has already been published. I have been fortunate to present at a number of forums about my story, about leadership, about directorship and about social enterprise and Holyoake services.

In all these situations, it’s also been an opportunity to talk about the amazing work that we do at Holyoake, so it’s also been that opportunity to build the Holyoake brand. I have met some amazing people and learned a great deal about myself and others along the way…..and the journey is still continuing!!!!

In your opinion, what are the most important traits that every leader should possess?

I like the work of Stephan Covey: ‘The 13 Behaviours of a High Trust Leader’ and Kouzes and Posner ‘The Truth About Leadership’ which capture for me the traits that leaders need and why they need them. If I were to focus on only one trait I would choose ‘integrity’, which to me is about honesty and trust. Leaders need to be honest in what they say, let people know where they stand and use simple language. They need to do what they say they are going to do. This builds credibility and trust..which are the essence of what integrity is about.

Other traits that I think are important are being humble, passionate about what you believe in and genuinely caring about people.


What are the two most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from or got you where you are today?

My first role as a CEO, nearly 18 years ago was a pivotal moment in my career. In 1998 I was fortunate to be appointed as the first CEO of Therapy Focus which I set up as a new non-government agency having project managed the outsourcing of therapy services from a government organisation. This began my career as a CEO in the NFP sector.

The second pivotal moment was my decision to study for my Master’s in Business Leadership just after I became CEO of Therapy Focus. I had the amazing opportunity to apply the theory that I was learning in my studies, to real life day to day situations at work which was invaluable. My Masters also helped me draw on my existing leadership and management experience to enhance my learning.


How do you encourage creative thinking within your organisation?

I am a possibility thinker, future focussed and always looking at the big picture. I am open to new ideas and always looking for opportunities to improve what we do or explore how we can do things differently or better. I am comfortable working with uncertainty and risk and regularly bring back new ideas to explore.

So, I think all of these things help to foster innovation and creativity at Holyoake as I lead by example as the CEO to create that environment that supports and enables creativity and innovation to happen.

How do you motivate your team?

I share my passion and enthusiasm for our vision and purpose and work to ensure that everyone is clear about where we are heading and what’s happening internally and externally through regular and simple communication. For example:

  • A fortnightly newsletter to all staff about what’s going on across the organisation,
  • Attending local team meetings,
  • Celebrating our successes together,
  • Consulting and involving others in decision making,
  • Team Days twice a year when the whole organisation comes together
  • CEO afternoon teas with staff at sites without their line managers present

I like the work of Kouzes and Posner: ‘The Leadership Challenge’ which outlines the 5 exemplary practices of leadership. It talks about modelling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act and encouraging the heart. I believe that if a leader can demonstrate all of these behaviours and the right attitude, then people will follow them and be motivated at work.

I try to foster an environment that enables and encourages self-responsibility – ‘we did it ourselves’. This links well with our Holyoake approach as well as the work of Daniel Pink in his book, ‘Drive’

  • Purpose – clear
  • Mastery – training and development
  • Autonomy – self management

We also have a wellbeing Committee at Holyoake who are responsible for organising the team days, our Christmas function and many other wellbeing type activities.


What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

There is lots of advice I could share based on the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years. Unfortunately there isn’t enough space here to share it all! To me the most important advice is to understand who you are. To be an authentic leader you need to be aware of who you are, what’s important to you and what you stand for- your values and beliefs. To me leadership is about who you are, not what you do.

It’s also important to seek out a mentor or mentors who have been on the journey before you who are willing to share their learnings and wisdom. Never be afraid to ask for help or advice as there is always someone who is willing to guide you along the way. You don’t have to do it all on your own.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

I am a strong believer in lifelong learning. If you want to continue to grow and develop as a person and a leader and be the best that you can be, then this is essential.

As I mentioned earlier, I have completed post graduate study in leadership and management and also governance. I regularly attend AIM and AICD learning events, presentations and conferences relevant to my work and personal development. Once a month through my TEC membership, I have access to high quality speakers on a wide range of topics and I regularly read journal articles, books and newsletters that are relevant to my work.

One of the significant benefits for me of my Telstra experience, has been that I have spent a great deal of time self-reflecting on myself as a person, as a leader and my own personal journey and I have found these insights invaluable from a learning perspective.

Mentorship seems to be a common thread used amongst leaders we have spoken with, have you had, or have you been a mentor and what impacts has this had on your leadership journey?

I’m a 10+ year member of TEC – an international membership group for CEOs and business leaders. This has provided me with significant benefits in my CEO roles over the years. While not strictly mentoring, there is an element of mentoring in the relationship between each member in the group and our TEC group chair.

I am a strong believer in mentoring others. I see it as an opportunity to give back, make a difference, to help others achieve their potential, and to share my knowledge, experience and wisdom. I currently mentor for the:

  • School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE)
  • Social Enterprise WA Accelerator Program
  • NDIS Accelerator National Program
  • Partnering for Scale and Impact National Program
  • Australian Institute for Management WA (AIM)
  • Engaging Young Leaders on Community Boards WA
  • Private pro bono coaching and mentoring of CEOs and Senior Executives


How do you start and end your day?

I usually start around 6 to 6.30am. If I don’t have an early meeting, I’ll go for a walk for ½ hour. If it’s a Tuesday or Saturday, I go for an hour of clinical Pilates. I’ll then have a quick breakfast and go off to work which is close to where I live.

I usually go to bed about 10.30pm or 11pm and read. I try to go to sleep around 11ish most nights as I know how important sleep is!

What’s the most exciting thing you have done over the past year?

Winning the 2015 WA Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award and the journey that’s come with it

What’s left on your bucket list that you are dying to do?

An incredible and inspiring personal journey to Lithuania to visit long lost family; I can’t wait!


Angie’s career spans over 30 years as a health practitioner, business owner, senior executive, executive coach and Board member in the hospitality, health, education, disability, alcohol and drug and community services industries. She has held positions in the government, not for profit and private sectors in Tasmania and Western Australia.

Since 1992, Angie has held a number of executive leadership positions, initially with the Disability Services Commission, then as CEO of Therapy Focus which Angie established as a new not for profit agency in 1998 and more recently as the State Director of Mission Australia in WA and now the CEO of Holyoake since 2007.

Angie has a strong commitment to lifelong learning and is formally qualified at Masters Level in Business Leadership, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. She has been a member of The Executive Connection since 2004. Over the years Angie has participated on a number of boards, high level government task forces and ministerial advisory committees.

Angie has significant skills and experience the areas of leadership, business strategy and planning, transforming organisations, business performance and growth, people management and development, leading and developing teams, coaching, corporate governance and stakeholder management and engagement. Angie also has a keen interest in the growth and development of social enterprises in the not for profit sector as a sustainable business model for the future of this sector.

In 2015, Angie won the Telstra WA Business Woman of the Year Award as well as the Social Purpose and Social Enterprise category.

By Maria-Jane Satterthwaite April 2016