Interview with Janine Berry, JBS Australia
Posted 1 year ago
This month we spoke to Janine Berry, Innovation Manager – People and Culture Systems at JBS Australia. Janine shared her aversion to 9-5 routines, unpacked her collaborative leadership style, and explained why she champions a people-centric approach to technology and innovation projects.
Can you tell us a little about your current role, and what you do?
My role with JBS Australia has a dual focus:
– Identifying, supporting, and leading innovation projects that contribute to people and cultural outcomes, and
– Development and implementation of a sustainable, systemic, organisation-wide approach to innovation.
I do a lot of research looking at people and culture trends, communicating this information to relevant professionals and working with them to develop innovative ways to address opportunities and challenges.
I’m currently also spending a lot of time identifying the various components and characteristics that contribute to an organisation’s ability to be innovative on an ongoing basis and liaising with various people from across the organisation who are already working on innovation projects.
What’s your background, and how has innovation featured throughout your career?
My background has primarily been in what I like to call “strategic business analysis”. I am passionate about alignment with strategy – even day-to-day processes should be contributing to organisational strategy.
For the past 10 years or so I’ve practiced this through working on my own as an independent consultant/ contractor. Undertaking a lot of business analysis and business improvement work has meant that innovation has been a core part of my role for a long time.
I’m now enjoying a role with a more overt focus on innovation – but strategic alignment continues to play such an important role.
Do you have a regular morning routine?
I’m not a routine person. I’ve always cringed at the thought of a 9-5 job. My brain just doesn’t work that way, which is probably not great, but it works for me.
But my lack of a routine does mean I’m able to go with the peaks and troughs of life and work. I love my job so am happy to sometimes spend evenings or weekends working if needed or if I’m on a roll with a particular piece of work.
What is your approach when a creative project gets stuck or delayed? How do you get back on track?
I find taking time away from the project or task helps. I have some of my best “breakthroughs” while driving to or from work – or sitting in a coffee shop. Sometimes something as simple as changing the environment and going and sitting outside can help. We have a lovely outdoor area at work, and I often take my coffee and a notebook out there of an afternoon for a different perspective.
But if I’m really stuck, then I think it’s important to reach out to others and ask for assistance in working through a challenge. Nothing is better than reframing through a pair of fresh eyes.
I have some of my best “breakthroughs” while driving to or from work – or sitting in a coffee shop.
In your opinion, what leadership traits or skills best enable innovation to flourish?
I believe leadership is something that can occur at all levels – “leading from where you are” was a bit of a mantra at the high school my daughters went to and something that resonated with me.
In terms of sustainable innovation, I think leadership (at any level) requires a systemic and holistic approach. Innovation isn’t just a project or the results of a hackathon – it’s about looking at all of the different parts of the system and how they come together to create an environment in which innovation flourishes. This includes the capability of team members and the organisational culture (such as support for risk-taking) as well as organisational processes – such as how can procurement and capital budget approval processes support innovation?
Collaboration is also important for developing a sustainable approach to innovation – this ensures new ideas and ways of doing things are shared, scaled, and implemented as appropriate across the organisation.
In an ideal situation, all team members would demonstrate these leadership traits and how they personally contribute to us becoming an innovative organisation.
“In terms of sustainable innovation, I think leadership (at any level) requires a systemic and holistic approach.”
What program or software would you be lost without at work?
Maybe Brightidea? Ask me in a few months’ time.
Tell us about a project you were involved in that ‘failed’. What did you learn?
We have just wound up a mixed reality technology training project that looked at how we could use virtual and augmented reality to provide more effective training. Whilst it didn’t “fail”, there were lots of things that happened that weren’t expected so the project went down a different path than expected.
But interestingly, I think the project was possibly all the more valuable for not going according to plan – the learnings as a result were significant and something that will guide our decision making moving forward.
The learning from this was the importance of allowing innovation projects (as this was) to “fail” – but also the importance of capturing learnings so those lessons don’t go to waste.
What start-up, research or new technology are you excited about right now?
What I’m most excited about is not so much a piece of technology, but rather an approach to technology.
I’m excited about the concept of Society or Industry 5.0 which focuses on using the technology of Industry 4.0 for the purposes of improving people and social outcomes. Similarly, I’m excited about taking people-focused approaches to the implementation of technology – such as a people-centric approach to implementation of RPA (robotic processing automation).
Innovation doesn’t have to be a new “thing” – it can be a new way of doing something. I believe a people approach to technology will deliver so many more benefits than traditional approaches.
Innovation doesn’t have to be a new “thing” – it can be a new way of doing something.
What is your biggest challenge currently?
To be honest, it’s probably getting people’s attention! Everyone is so busy and working environments are so ad hoc that it’s really hard to find a way to engage with people. So many people just skim emails nowadays. There doesn’t yet seem to be a magic solution to communicate with lots of people at the same time – in the context of the current environment.
What behaviour or habit has most improved your life?
Broadening my concept of “learning”. I used to think learning comprised reading a book or attending a course, but it doesn’t have to. Taking a new approach to learning – one that sees any exposure to something new as learning – has given me a new appetite for knowledge. I particularly love reading articles on new trends and practices – I find myself going from article to article through links within the first article and I love it. I love that this is part of my job and being exposed to new concepts and ways of doing things every day.
How do you stay up to date on industry trends and news?
Those annoying emails you get every day from websites you’ve signed up to just to get a “free” resource are actually valuable – well, most of them. I sign up for the more reputable online newsletters and scan even the less reputable ones.
I find Josh Bersin’s articles are particularly valuable – my colleagues are probably getting sick of me constantly quoting from Bersin or referencing his models. He takes a people-centric approach to new trends and new technologies that few others do. And he has the best models.
What two things do you hope to accomplish over the next twelve months?
Professionally, I’m hoping to get support for and commence implementation of a systemic, holistic approach to innovation at work – one that is embedded within the organisation so as not to become a “fad”.
Personally, I want to regain my health. The last few years have been difficult for a lot of people, myself included, and it’s been hard to focus on important things like self-care. This is the year I hope to change that.
Where can we find you on social media?
You can find me on LinkedIn – another great way to stay abreast of technology and trends.