Jump on roles outside your patch – that’s when the growth comes

Sharyn County

General Manager - Procurement, Property and Fleet

Career at a glance

Over the course of my career, I’ve been fortunate to work in a variety of senior commercial
roles across the energy, technology, outsourcing and services industries.

I’ve worked on both the buy side and account management/sales side of business, which
means I’m able to empathise with the needs of sellers and form strong, ongoing and
mutually beneficial relationships, including in my current enterprise role Managing
Procurement Property and Fleet across Zinfra, Jemena and the broader group of companies.

My ability to effectively navigate contract negotiations has also served me well. Completing
a Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Commercial Law laid a good
foundation for me to develop these key skills.

Prior to my enterprise role within the leadership group at Zinfra , I held a number of senior
leadership positions at Jemena, the most recent being GM Commercial Procurement.
Before this, I developed and implemented a variety of successful technology sourcing
strategies as GM Commercial with EB Services, a company that formed part of the Singapore
Power Group of companies in Australia.

I sit on the Australian Advisory Board for the International Association of Contract and
Commercial Management, and have previously held a number of Board positions for not for
profit companies as well.

Working at Zinfra

Heading up an enterprise function that supports and services 9 leaders across Zinfra,
Jemena and the broader Group, I’m exposed to lots of different facets of the business, often
with competing priorities. To do my job effectively, I’ve had to learn how to juggle the wants
and needs of each to achieve the best outcomes for the Group as a whole.

I receive great support from the leadership team, as well as many valuable opportunities
such as exposure to the Board. Every day my peers help further my understanding of the
various industries they work across, made up of both regulated and unregulated businesses.

I learnt that you don’t need to be an expert to lead experts. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help – you can’t know everything!
Sharyn County, GM Procurement, Property & Fleet

Greatest career challenges and achievements

Having completed both of my post graduate university qualifications while working full time,
I learnt the importance of balancing family and friends with work and career ambitions.

In the middle of my career we started to explore having a family this led me to having to
undertake a number of IVF cycles. I had a lot of support around me at the time, which
allowed me to push pause on my professional life for a little bit. This taught me a lot about
prioritising what’s important.

A few years ago, I was heavily involved in transitioning a business back into two separate
entities. This was a real challenge and difficult for all involved, but by holding ‘rumour days’
to encourage transparency and treating people with respect through information sharing,
we actually managed to increase engagement scores during the transition. I took some
great learnings from this, including the power of active and authentic communication.

Seeing people I’ve mentored and supported excel, to the point where I would go and work
for them myself, has been one of my greatest achievements. As leaders, we are here to train
and develop our people for their next role – whether it be with us or not.

Passions outside of work

I love to travel! I love Africa in particular. My husband and I have even featured on National
Geographic for catching rare footage of a leopard kill from a tree. I also love painting,
photography and reading, and have been a Justice of the Peace for a number of years, to do
my bit for the community.

When I was younger, I backpacked around the world for 2.5 years, basing myself in London
and travelling from there. This was the best thing I ever did - venturing abroad at a young
age, learning to fend for myself, making spur of the moment decisions, and taking chances
that led me to some truly weird and wonderful places.

Climbing the ladder and giving back

At a future leaders conference a few years back, one of the speakers said something that
really stuck with me - ‘make sure you repot yourself in your career’. So whenever an
opportunity to do something different and learn something new has come up, I’ve taken it!
That’s when the growth comes.

It’s important to be your authentic self too. As women, we sometimes try to be something
we’re not, but don’t be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve and be vulnerable. Often
you’ll get more out of people and end up with more opportunities.

Don’t forget to have fun as well, even when things are challenging. It’s really Important to
stop and laugh and enjoy what you’re doing.

Key career influences and supporters

Having a good mentor is so worthwhile, and I’ve had some really great mentors. As part of a Women in IT mentoring group, I was mentored by the CIO of a large health insurance company. He was male, which was really beneficial because he gave me a different perspective on things. He was also very good at helping me solve my own problems, with a little bit of guidance when I needed it.

I’ve also had some brilliant leaders and peers, and even people working for me, who’ve
enabled me to stretch and develop and test myself in roles outside my usual patch. Each
time was a challenge as I had to learn a lot quickly and rely heavily on the team around me,
but I learnt that you don’t need to be an expert to lead experts. Don’t be afraid to speak up
and ask for help – you can’t know everything!