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From Dance Teacher to Data Analyst: Grace’s Surprising Career Journey at KINNECT

People Stories 21 Mar 2024

Career paths today are rarely linear, but some have more twists and turns than others until the right niche is found. This has certainly been the case for Data and Systems Analyst, Grace Thompson, who once trained for a dancing career and worked at her local RSL, but now enthusiastically immerses herself in spreadsheets and software improvement.

A Willingness to ‘Give it a Go’ Leads Career Progression

Prior to joining KINNECT in 2017 Grace aspired to be a professional dancer. Months prior to relocating from Perth to Sydney to attend a performing arts school she suffered a devastating accident, snapping the ligaments in her ankle. After switching paths and becoming a dance teacher and gymnastics coach, Grace decided on a complete change of lifestyle and moved to Queensland in 2015 where she worked as a server and bartender at bowls clubs and RSL clubs.

Feeling unfulfilled, she applied for a role as a Medical Support Officer/Receptionist at KINNECT’s new Gold Coast office. “It was my first full-time Monday to Friday job. I was confused about public holidays and didn’t realise that I didn’t have to work!Grace Thompson with other dancers in Sydney

“I had no experience in reception, let alone medical bookings or administration and what KINNECT offers, but I had customer service experience,” Grace recalled.

The role was not only new and challenging, but it also came at the right time to help Grace settle into her life on the Gold Coast: “I loved the structure. And from the get-go, the Gold Coast team and KINNECT had a great culture, so I felt like I had a family immediately. “We were all new to KINNECT, and even though the others had been to university and had professional experience, we all helped each other out, learning the ropes together.

“Although our Medical Support team was, and still is, dispersed across Australia, I definitely felt supported and had contact with everyone on Teams chats, so it didn’t feel like I was alone on the front desk,” she said.

Only two months later, an internal Expression of Interest for a Customer Success Officer was circulated. The position was to head the new Customer Success department that was being established to fill a gap in the organisation for a purely customer-based role. Grace initially dismissed it given how recently she’d joined KINNECT: “It felt way out of my league – I was still on probation, so I deleted it. I was surprised though, when a colleague suggested that I apply for the role, so I did and got the job!” she remembered.

However, Grace said that this role was a significant turning point in both her career, and her mindset, explaining:

“That role started something within me – I now have the mantra that I’ll never turn down an opportunity. Anything that gets thrown my way, I’ll go for it, and that’s gotten me to where I am.”

Grace was the sole member of the Customer Success department, onboarding clients for pre-employment assessments, handling client relations, resolving complaints and doing follow-ups, while keeping up her front desk duties. “I was in the role for four years. At one point I was managing six people across Australia and offshore in the Philippines. It was my first experience as a manager and managing a department. During my time in Customer Success, we started having Administration Supervisors which meant all supervisors could get support as we stood between front-line and the Executive Leadership Team,” Grace said.

Soon, KINNECT’s proprietary technology platform, Carelever was launched, which meant a more complicated client onboarding process. “I was setting them up on the platform, but I really loved doing the back-end system work. I was able to work really closely with the Carelever team and developers because I had the operational knowledge of how we worked with clients that I could feed that to developers,” Grace said.

This sparked yet another upward move for Grace who began a new role as Carelever Excellence Lead. “I didn’t have any client work, but I was happy to move on and loved working with data, doing reporting, and using my system knowledge to improve things. I was in that role for two years before being appointed in my current role as Data Analyst. I’m not customer facing anymore, but because I talk to so many people across the organisation that I see KINNECT as my customer,” she explained.


Satisfying work and plenty of learning opportunities

The opportunity to become an expert in her role, and continue to learn and be challenged, have been a key reason for Grace’s satisfaction in her career: “I’ve gained so much knowledge about the Carelever system. I love being the person someone comes to when they need information or solutions, and I can give them an answer.

“I’ve also developed a really well-rounded knowledge of the business from my work in different areas, plus through the Emerging Leaders Program in 2021. I love data, spreadsheets and reporting, knowing how to get what we need from the system and where there are gaps.

“Now I’m situated in the finance team, I’m learning about profit and loss and budgets, and I can see how what I’ve done in the past six years impacts another part of the business,” she enthused.

Grace believes that it’s KINNECT’s willingness to support people’s development and the ability to have close relationships with the leadership team that has made her career possible.

 If you want it [a role] and you prove that you genuinely have an interest, KINNECT will do everything in their power to help you get to it. If you’re willing and ready to put yourself out there, you’ll end up in roles that you never saw yourself in. I trusted their judgement on what I was capable of and took the opportunities they gave me,” Grace explained.

Keen to keep “strengthening her brain muscle”, Grace has enrolled in a business degree, majoring in business analytics starting July 2024 where she’ll be able to use what she’s learned at KINNECT to support her learning and vice versa.

Reflecting on her favourite things about working at KINNECT, Grace believes that first and foremost, it’s the people and the friendships she’s made, both in Australia and internationally. She also loves the diversity of the job, and the company: “I love the reach we have in terms of services and how that is everchanging. No two days are the same – there’s always something to learn or improve.”

For people considering a change of career into medical support and administration, even without experience, Grace emphatically says “Give it a go!  Even if you have no idea about the industry, the team are so supportive, and you’ll get all the training you need. If you have a can-do attitude, there isn’t anything you won’t be able to achieve. Also, there is so much more variety in the role than a standard medical centre where you’re checking people in for appointments or doing administration.”

She pointed out that all the roles she has held at KINNECT have been brand new for the organisation, but that hasn’t hindered her: “I was thrown in the deep end but always felt supported. I enjoyed going off to do my own thing, but I always had people I could escalate things to if I needed help. I’ve grown into using that management style myself.”

KINNECT celebrate the different backgrounds of our people, hiring new KINNECTers for the diversity of thought and experience they bring to the organisation. If you’re interested in a change of career and meeting like-minded, values-driven people, take a look at the opportunities in our careers centre.