CEO for a week - Amy Skorikov
To honour International Womens Day, Our CEO, Chamil Fernando asked our Solutions Manager Amy Skorikov to take on the role of CEO for a week to gain new skills and insights to further her career. Amy sat down with us after taking on the role of Alii’s acting CEO last week to talk about her experience.
How did you prepare leading up to being CEO for the week?
Prior to the week of International Women’s Day, I spent some time really thinking about what I wanted to gain out of the week as Acting CEO. It isn’t everyday that you get to step into a role like this, so I wanted to ensure that I knew what I wanted to gain out of the experience. On top of that, my lovely colleague Ellen had loaned me Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's book, Women and Leadership, that she was reading last year when she was also Acting CEO. This book has some fantastic insight about female leaders around the globe. A fantastic read, and very relevant for the week.
Did anyone else do anything for you prior to this experience?
No other organisation that I had worked for prior to Alii had ever done an initiative like this. I am so fortunate to have been given this opportunity, and to work for a company who value and support women in their professional career.
What type of work did you do that was different from the norm during this week?
Chamil and I would catch up for 15 minutes every morning and go through what our agenda was for the day so I was informed and prepared. I was exposed to a variety of different areas within the business. A lot of the work revolved around the commercial side of things. This area was something that I was particularly interested in getting exposure to, and it involved a whole range of tasks including joining partnership meetings, jumping in on 1:1 catch ups and other team meetings that I am generally not involved in.
What key skills did you learn as CEO for that week?
The 2 biggest key skills that I gained from my week as Acting CEO would be the importance of time management and creating a positive work environment for employees. CEO’s have so much that they need to get through in a day, and being organised with time ensures that nothing is missed, and deadlines are met. I was still doing my normal job whilst stepping in as Acting CEO, so every morning I would look at my day ahead and plan out free periods where I could focus on my own tasks. Employees are the most crucial part of the business, and it is so important to create an environment where employees want to show up and be the best versions of themselves. When staff are happy with their workplace, and passionate about what they do, it means that the work they deliver will be at the highest standard. This is something that Chamil does so well as a leader.
Was the CEO job as you imagined?
I always knew that Chamil was extremely busy, however, I never realised the full depth of that until this week. This is why I mentioned time management as being such a key skill, because there are so many meetings, different teams, and responsibilities that Chamil needs to juggle without falling behind.
Have you identified any growth opportunities for you?
Stepping in as Acting CEO this week has certainly identified growth opportunities for me. I am passionate about progressing in my career and becoming a leader, and this experience really instilled that in me. Getting exposure to everything this week has reminded me to continue pursing my career goals.
Did you see your own CEO (Chamil) differently after the experience? In what way?
I don’t see Chamil any differently, but I certainly have a lot of more appreciation and respect for the job he does. Chamil is an incredible leader, and a fantastic role model, we are really lucky to have him as our CEO. Not only does he hold the entire company together, but he has such a strong focus on creating a positive workplace for all staff which leads to desirable outcomes for the company.
What is the one takeaway from that week’s experience that you would say to others looking to be a CEO?
For anyone looking to step into a CEO role, my takeaway to share is to be willing to learn, be open minded, and support your staff. There are always things to learn, with technology evolving and times changing, it’s important to stay up to date. Being open minded will allow for further opportunities to present themself, which will lead to further growth within the business. By building those relationships with staff, they will respect and admire you as a leader, and it will help to build a strong and positive team. A company can’t grow without their staff, so it’s important they feel supported and understood within the workplace. Chamil has build such a strong foundation within the business, I think a lot of other CEO’s could also learn a lot from Chamil and how he operates the business.