Embracing Leadership and Opportunities for Growth

20 Dec 2019
Manoj Pathnapuram
Deputy Director, Allied Health Professional Group (AHPG) and Youth Disability
Transition from Specialist to Management track

I transitioned from the specialist track as a Speech Therapist to the management track as Deputy Director because the skills I developed as a specialist were transferable and relevant to my new role. Moving to a corporate function role has enabled me to see things from a macro point of view, so that I can better understand sector needs holistically.
Should you consider moving from a specialist track to a management one, here’s my advice. While deepening your specialist skills, keep an open mind and learn from your colleagues in other disciplines. This will help you develop the necessary soft skills in communication, engagement and empathy, all of which are critical leadership skills.
Do also find a leader you can look up to and seek mentorship from. Then, identify areas for development together with your supervisor. Finally, be aware of sector changes—especially ones that affect policies and funding.
When transitioning, remember that a mindset of continuous learning is critical for any leadership role, be it as a specialist or generalist. When I transitioned, I experienced challenges in areas such as organisational development, governance, and resource management. However, attending relevant trainings in these domains and on-the-job coaching helped me overcome these obstacles.
I joined the Sun Ray scheme, because I was interested in opportunities for rotations within the sector to broaden my understanding, and learn with and from, other professionals across various disciplines.
Being a part of the Sun Ray scheme has provided me with realistic knowledge about the sector in terms of its needs, strengths and challenges. I have gained opportunities to receive and provide coaching and mentoring; participate in committees and panels that shape policies; and coach and hone skills pertaining to specific aspects of leadership.
Interested to be part of Sun Ray? Be nimble in the roles you take on within the social service agency you are deployed to and stay away from simply being prescriptive. Instead, be open to learning and embed yourself in the culture of the agency. Be an active listener and learner before initiating sound, data-driven changes. And finally, foster strong relationships with professionals across teams and levels.