29/10/2008 - 22:00

Culture Corner-Pilar Kasat

29/10/2008 - 22:00


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WABN: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone to motivate a team? PK: "You need to provide a team with a sense of purpose and a collective vision.

Pilar Kasat

WABN: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone to motivate a team?

PK: "You need to provide a team with a sense of purpose and a collective vision. Involve your team in the decision-making process, be brave and don't pretend that you know everything. Be human; authenticity inspires people. Show leadership. Make decisions when they need to be made and allow your intuition to have a place in your management style."

WABN: What's best measurement of your performance, and can you name a highlight in your career?

PK: "CAN WA is a very happy workplace, the energy of the office is palpable.

Many people who walk into this office make the comment about the energy of this place.

I think one of the best measurements of my performance that I have found is in the resignation letters I have received from my staff. They have been wonderful testimonies on how much people have loved working with us. I am very proud to have created a work place that people love being part of.

"The opening of our regional indigenous office in the WA country town of Kellerberrin in 2006 would definitely be a highlight of my career at CAN WA. Our regional office employs two indigenous staff members who work on projects that benefit regional indigenous communities in the Wheatbelt."

WABN: What are the specific hurdles that you meet on a daily basis in your sector?

PK: "The short-term nature of the funding cycles. We see in our work the positive impact that bringing people together creates - we just need more support to create these opportunities on a longer term. Dealing with this issue is basically searching for funding from other sources - a very time-consuming and complex process."

WABN: Who is someone you dream to work with?

PK: "I would have loved to have had the opportunity to work with Anita Roddick. Her amazing journey to build a now-global environmentally sustainable business is incredibly inspirational. She was a brilliant businesswoman and is greatly missed.

"On perhaps a more personal note, the Chilean-American author Isabel Allende would also be someone I would love to meet and work with. She is a prolific writer and continues to reinvent herself through her novels."

WABN: Have you read a good book on management/leadership that you can recommend?

PK: "When I get the time to read and relax, management books are the last thing I want to be reading."

WABN: What is your favourite hobby?

PK: "I love being in the natural environment, so I make the point of getting away and connecting with nature. I recently returned from some amazing trekking through my homeland - Chile."

WABN: What were you doing before your current position?

PK: "I was with CAN WA in a managing role. Prior to starting with CAN WA, I was working with Kulcha Multicultural Arts of WA."

WABN: Describe a day at work.

PK: "A day at CAN WA involves engaging in a great diversity of tasks - anything from making decisions about budgets to employing artists, developing innovative proposals and working with communities and local government on cultural polices and programs. There never seem to be enough hours in the day."

WABN: What is the main quality are you looking for within your team members?

PK: "Passion and commitment are the probably most relevant qualities I look for. Certain skills you can learn along the way, but you need to be motivated and ready to take on the challenges."

WABN: How do you deal with egos in your workplace?

PK: "All people need to be recognised for the contribution they make. I do make a point of reinforcing the positive aspects of each staff member's work. I feel it is important to keep a balance and to model positive feedback. This creates an environment in which staff are willing and encourage to provide positive feedback to each other."

WABN: Is there an organisation/business model that you strive to achieve/reach?

PK: "At Community Arts Network WA, our organisational model is to create a future where culture, creativity and the arts are known to be essential for community wellbeing and are at the core of a just, diverse and resilient society. We strive to achieve this model in everything that we do - it is the lifeblood of our organisation."

WABN: What frustrates you the most about your sector and what would you do to change it?

PK: "Generally, culture and the arts sectors are still perceived as the 'icing on the cake'. Not enough resources are committed to building a vibrant arts and cultural sector in WA. I must say that things have improved over the recent years. I hope that through better and more sustained partnerships with the business sector we can achieve a more culturally rich, lively and distinctive WA."

WABN: What has been the most challenging event in your career?

PK: "The most challenging and the most rewarding aspect of my career has been in the area of human resources. Dismissing staff has to be among the most difficult decisions I have ever made. Having gone through that experience, I learned that the risk of having a dysfunctional workplace and the long-term consequences are more damaging than making a really difficult decision of telling someone that they are no longer employed.

I am of course referring to cases in which there is gross misconduct and where the people in question have breached the ethos of the organisation. For the record, I do not advocate firing people."

WABN: Which personality inspired you the most throughout your career?

PK: "I have been inspired by many people during my career. What has, and continues to inspire me, is the strength, resilience and solidarity that people show in times of adversity. The capacity of the human spirit to hope and create never stops to amaze me."

WABN: Who has influenced you personally?

PK: "I recognise only now, that my mother has greatly influenced my personality. When I saw my mother dancing flamenco beautifully and passionately at the ripe age of 65, I thought I would not mind doing something like that and looking like her when I am 65! Her energy, passion for life and her positive outlook inspires me."


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