Francis Lynch: Hi, my name is Francis Lynch and welcome to the Living with purpose interviews. In this episode, I’m talking with Angie Paskevicius, who has been a CEO in the community sector for more than 20 years. She’s also a non executive director with a number of organisations and also works as a. Leadership coach and mentor. Welcome, Angie. Thanks for joining me on the living with Purpose podcast. I’m looking forward to having a conversation with with you about how purpose plays out in your life. But if we can start off, can. You maybe describe to me how you introduce. Yourself to people.
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah, I just, I guess I just introduced myself as Angie Paskevicius and it really depends what context. If it’s in a work environment, it’s anti Paskevich, CEO of Hollyoak. If I’m at a function, it’s it’s really just Angie Paskevicius and then anything else comes later and yeah, yeah, because I I have. I wear many hats.
Francis Lynch: Yeah, I know that. And even in the work environment, I mean, yes, you know, CEO of Holyoke, but over time you’ve really started to do quite a lot of other. Things as well.
Angie Paskevicius: I have, yes. Well, I sit on a number of boards, so I guess I am a CEO. I’m a non executive director. I I do some public speaking and I also am an executive coach as well. So I guess that’s the range of different hats that I wear.
Francis Lynch: So. So those things have sort of layered on top of each other. I think over time, would that be fair to say?
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah, in a way I’ve probably. I’ve been a CEO now for over 20 years. Sounds like a very long time, over 20 years, but I’ve also been involved with boards for over 20 years as well. And it was really only last year at the beginning of the year that I officially launched my executive coaching business. But for probably up to 20 years I’ve been coaching and mentoring people anyway, just on a pro bono basis. And then it was really. After my Telstra award that I started to do some public. What what I. Would describe as keynote or public speaking? I mean, I’ve always done that as part of my. CEO role but. Not, you know, conferences. Things like that, but it’s really only been since about 2015 that I’ve kind of done a bit more of that public speaking.
Francis Lynch: And so you know those things as you’ve you’ve been recognised, you know, for a number of things, so that Telstra award and and has that changed you in in terms of how you think about yourself in, in your roles?
Angie Paskevicius: It has actually, so I suppose what what that actually did. I’ve I’ve. I’ve got quite an interesting story in terms of my journey. And I guess what Telstra the Telstra award gave me the opportunity to do was talk more openly, more publicly about some of that story and I I I guess I didn’t realise until I was invited to a business, women’s International Women’s Day event. In early 2016, and that was probably the first time I spoke openly a little bit about my story and my journey. And it was after that I’d had that did that presentation that all these women came up to me and spoke to me about how they had had some of those similar experiences to me. And it was when. I realised the importance and the value of sharing some of that information. That, you know, I I’m relatively successful in terms of my career, but I see myself as an ordinary person. And and I think it it, it gave people comfort and confidence that really you can do anything no matter who you are and no matter what happens in your life, anything is possible. And that’s, I guess that’s one of my beliefs that really anything is possible that you just need to believe.
Francis Lynch: and and I’ve. And I’ve seen on your website and and in other places where you’ve spoken about that that history and and on on other podcasts as well, that and. The influences in your life, through your family, through your, your adult life, do they really? Can you see a a sort of pathway yourself in terms of how you come to be where you are now or is it just a whole series of different events or do you make meaning out of that now?
Angie Paskevicius: I think what you said last of all is probably true. It it it’s it’s been a journey and I’m also a reflector and it’s been reflecting on that at different points in my journey. That’s helped me understand those changes in me and who I am and come to understand a lot more about who I am so. A lot of people, I think, understand who they are perhaps much earlier in life, and I think because of some of my experiences, I I didn’t. I didn’t get to that place at a younger age. It’s it’s only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve realised a. Lot of those things.
Francis Lynch: Yeah. Look, I. Think you know as I’ve gotten older? I’ve certainly learned more about myself and and how to make meaning of all of that as well. I wonder. You know whether you would be where you are. Do you think you would be where you are if if not? For those experiences or those?
Angie Paskevicius: No, probably not. Probably not. When I do speak, I will often say. But you know, I would pick up well off and ask, would you change anything? Well, no, I wouldn’t because I wouldn’t be. Who I am. Today, if I changed anything and then at one time when I was speaking, someone said ask me a question. If you’ve had, how come you’ve if you’ve had so many failures in your life, how come you’ve got to where you are? And and it it it it really hit me by surprise, I thought. I’d never actually ever thought they were failures. I it was actually a bit of an AHA moment that that someone might think that, but for me I’d never thought that I really saw them as learning and growing opportunities, not as failures, which is quite interesting. Yeah, but again, it’s about your perspective. Life isn’t.
Francis Lynch: That’s right. And and. And so you said that in 2016 after receiving the Telstra Award, you spoke about some of those experiences in your life and and in in doing that and and perhaps doing that more than once over time. I mean, how does that feel for you now? Does that? Has that been? I don’t. Wanna put words in in? Your but has it been? You know, liberating. Or has it been empowering or not? I mean, I’m I’m wondering.
Angie Paskevicius: No, it has. It’s been. It has been empowering. I feel very comfortable having those conversations now. I mean, there’s obviously some things that I will never share and there’s always that line and I guess it’s about, you know, being as a leader, being vulnerable that it’s OK. I mean, I’m a human being. I’m authentic. I’m vulnerable like everyone else, and there’s and I can. And I think I share that information. Now, because I think it it may help someone else on their journey, you know, no one’s perfect. There’s always challenges and issues in people’s life. But if you’ve got a a positive attitude and one of the things for me. Which perhaps we’ll talk about my parents later, but from my dad, my dad had a great deal of courage and the persistence in the face of adversity and being the best that you can be. I had two very strong gifts from my dad and I think, you know, I didn’t know that at the time and I really. I really only realised that quite late in life, even a few years ago when I met my relatives for. The first time. My Lithuanian relatives.
Francis Lynch: And and could you see sort of mirrors of your father’s sort of attitudes or his way of being?
Angie Paskevicius: Yes, Absolute well in them but but when I learned about his story. I knew some of his story, but when I learnt and understood a lot more about his story.
Francis Lynch: So what I’m interested in that what made you connect with that part of your sort of family background?
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah, well, that’s a story in itself. I was actually in Melbourne for the Telstra Awards season of the National awards and I was I I went over a couple of days earlier and I was sitting sitting on a sitting in my hotel room on a Friday night. That and there were five other women who were coming over, but I got there before then. And one of them suggested that we keep in touch on Messenger and that, you know, if we had anything we needed to say to each other while we were there in our rooms or whatever. So that was fine. So I was on Facebook. But I had never connected on Messenger. So anyway, I I went on to Messenger and this was in November 2015 and when I went on to Messenger. What I discovered there is a message there for me from June 2015.
Francis Lynch: Oh wow. Been sitting neighbour.
Angie Paskevicius: And I didn’t know. It had been. It it it was looking for Angelina Paskevicius So my my real name is Angelina, not Angie and. You know, I was. In the hotel room and I was absolutely. Shocked, I just thought, Oh my God, that’s me. Someone’s actually looking for me. And so if I go back a step, my dad came to Australia when he was 24. His father was already here. My my grandfather came in 31.
Francis Lynch: Oh, OK.
Angie Paskevicius: My father came in 38 to join him, which is similar to what happened in in those days. The the men came first and then the rest of the family were supposed to come, and then the war started in 39 and Lithuania was occupied by the Russians and it wasn’t till 1991 that the Russians actually left, and so my dad’s family could never leave. So he came out to Australia. His father paid for the fare and he caught the ship from he travelled from Lithuania to London. And caught the ship he was on that ship for six weeks, didn’t have any extra money, couldn’t speak any English and met his father in Australia. But what I also hadn’t realised was he he had not had any of these new experiences. So I’ll talk about talk to you about those in a moment. But he also had a younger brother. So my dad was 24 and his younger brother was 12. And I knew that he. Had a brother. And when I was a teenager, he used to write to his brother in Lithuania and send money to the family and closing and things like that. And they had it, you know, regular contact. But then somehow, over the years they lost contact and I was. I got married and I. You know, didn’t think much more about. It and then in May 2015, his brother passed away and my father had already been had passed away five years before. And so these were my relatives in Lithuania, my first and second cousins, and it was in fact my second cousin who lived in London that was looking for me because my father’s brother was a professor of history in the university, in the capital of Lithuania. And when my father was writing to him when I was a teenager. Through those years. His brother had kept all of his letters from where he from. He travelled from when he travelled to Australia in 1938 and wrote to his mother. And when my cousins cleared out his flat, they found all these letters. They knew they had.
Francis Lynch: That’s amazing.
Angie Paskevicius: They they it is. So they knew they. Had relatives in Australia, I knew I had relatives there but we and we knew the brothers had lost contact but we didn’t know what happened or why. And so this was a message looking for me a month after my father’s brother, my uncle had passed away. And what happened when I got the message straight away. You know, I was just. I couldn’t believe it, so I sent it a message straight back and almost instantly I got a reply from my second cousin in London and in that e-mail she attached a photo and it was a photo of my mum, my dad, my grandfather. Myself on my mother’s knee and my I was, I would have been 3 and my brother, who was 1 in that photo, and I actually had that same photo at home in Perth. And I I just started crying. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t believe it. It was just amazing. A year later, Barry, my partner and I went to Lithuania and my second cousin got married. When we were there, so we went to her wedding and my second cousin speaks Lithuanian and English quite well, my first cousin. She’s she’s the principal of a school in Lithuania. Or for college actually. And she speaks Lithuanian and and Russian and her English is not too bad. So when I was there. She shared with me those letters and she translated them for me and the letter from my dad. My my dad’s letter to his mother. When he was 24 and he was on that ship was just amazing. So I’ve actually got that letter now and it’s written in quite an old style of Lithuanian, which my first cousin could translate, cause she was a Lithuanian teacher as well. And. In that letter. He talks about these amazing things that he discovered, that he’s telling his mum. So for the first time he discovered. On the on. The sugar cubes he’d never seen sugar cubes before.
Francis Lynch: Oh, OK.
Angie Paskevicius: He’d never. He couldn’t believe that you could have coffee that was continuous. You could have as many cups of coffee as you wanted to. He he even made this comment about all these ladies dancing with all his men with really short skirts. And he, you know, he just not seen that before. And and on his way to catching the ship he’d never been on a paved Rd before. He’d always only been on a dirt Rd. Because he lived in a a small village in Lithuania so. It was all of. Those things, and in some of his future letters that I really got a a much better and stronger understanding of my dad and who he was.
Francis Lynch: It’s such an it’s such an Australian story, though, isn’t it? Of people who come from the other side of the world and make a life here?
Angie Paskevicius: That’s right. And so he came to Perth on the ship and then went to Melbourne, where his father was. And then eventually he met my mum there, and they eventually went to Tasmania, where eventually I was born and. We grew up.
Francis Lynch: And so so is he, has he been an influential person in your? Life your dad.
Angie Paskevicius: Look, he has, but you know. I didn’t realise how influential he was until I discovered that letter. I knew what a strong influence my mum was. But I didn’t. Realise about my dad, yeah.
Francis Lynch: And that was after he passed.
Angie Paskevicius: Yes, yes, yes. And I wished that I’d had. I I had asked him a lot more questions than I did and that’s one of the things I say to people, you know.
Francis Lynch:Yeah, yeah.
Angie Paskevicius: Make sure you ask your parents the questions that you would like to ask before they you know it’s too late and they pass away.
Francis Lynch: So you mentioned that your mum was was influential. What? What did she give you?
Angie Paskevicius: Look, my dad wasn’t well educated, but he he became a businessman. My mum also was not well educated, but she was a very caring person. Who was a tireless fundraiser for for. A range of different cause. My dad had a news agency in the small country town that we lived in in Tasmania and we lived on top of the news agency, so we essentially lived in the Main Street and I would often sit with my mum outside of the news agency and help her sell raffle tickets and things like that. We also had one of the biggest employers was an institution. for people in those days which were call retarded children association, but people with disability, very profound disabilities and the criminally and saying it was a a big, big institution from the the late 1800s. And so we, I grew up people with disabilities. Around me all the time, we’d have people coming into the shop. We had people coming up the street and my mum was also a tireless fundraiser for the retarded Children’s Association. And so it was really from that, that sense of serving that strong desire. Back and make it. Difference. And I knew that from a very early age. It’s something that I knew that I always wanted to do and in in a sense it’s it’s almost been a calling for me that it it’s just something that’s there it’s part of. Who I am.
Francis Lynch: Because you I’m I’m. I don’t wanna get it wrong. But you trained initially. Was it as a a speech therapist? Yes. Yep.
Angie Paskevicius: Speech pathologist. Yeah, yeah.
Francis Lynch: Pathologist. OK. And did that do you think that that had any influence by by what you saw at growing up and?
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah. Oh, definitely yes, because.
Francis Lynch: In that town. Yeah, yeah.
Angie Paskevicius: One of the because I I my work experience when I was at high school was actually at Royal Derwent Hospital, which was that large institution. There was a very elderly speech therapist, English speech therapist who worked there. She must have been, you know, one of the first speech therapists in the world. She was very elderly, but she worked with the the mostly children with quite significant disabilities. And I did my work experience there and that’s when I knew that I I wanted to be a speech pathologist. And I I did actually go back there and work for a year. At one point after I graduated.
Francis Lynch: How did that experience sort of fit against your childhood expectations? Of of what was going on in there .
Angie Paskevicius: I probably. I probably got to see a lot more and was, you know, horrified at, you know, some of the things that went on in, in the, you know, the 24/7 areas where. The accommodation areas were because obviously everyone lived on site. All of the the children. Yeah, some. Safeguarding practices that we, you know, certainly wouldn’t call it in safeguarding would have been a real issue there at the time.
Francis Lynch: Yeah, yeah. And and I’m assuming, well, I wonder, is that facility, does it exist anymore in that?.
Angie Paskevicius: No, it’s it closed down a little time ago.
Francis Lynch: So clearly a formative experience for you and and you know influenced how you sort of initially did training. So, are there other people who’ve been really influential for you in terms of where you end up now?
Angie Paskevicius: Yes. So mum and dad? Yes, definitely. There’ve been people along the way who I’ve had a. It’s what’s interesting about my career path is that I’ve never intentionally set out to work in a particular place. Opportunities have always presented themselves to me and one of the things I talk about is the importance of opportunities and always exploring them because you don’t know where they might lead doesn’t mean you need to take them. Up, but you Never know where they might lead and I have this saying which I read on a a card. One day when I was in a particularly vulnerable position. And it said sometimes we look so longingly. So when one door closes, sometimes we look so longingly at the door that is closed, we don’t see the new door that has opened, and I’m a strong believer in that. So for my career journey opportunities have presented themselves and sometimes. By people I haven’t. Really known very well. And they’ve been, I guess, instrumental in directing me into a certain way that I’ve I’ve I’ve. I’ve gone in my career.
Francis Lynch: Yeah, and and so. Being able to not take advantage. But to to see. Or see the opportunity and actually be open to it.
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah, I I think it’s about well seeing it and being open to it, but you might not always see it, but someone else might see it. And in my case. Someone else is seeing an open. Opportunity and they’ve suggested something and I’ve explored it and it’s actually it’s it, it was what led me into away from speech pathology into generic management. It’s also what led me into my CEO role. At therapy focus. It’s also what led me into my role at Mission Australia and it’s also what led me into my role. At Holyoke as well.
Francis Lynch: And I’m thinking. Particularly, particularly when you went to therapy focus, I mean it was a brand new. organisation, being sort of hived out of government and it was a bit of a an experiment by the looks of it.
Angie Paskevicius: It was, and in fact, that was the opportunity. I was the project manager who managed the transition from Disability Services Commission into the not-for-profit sector and and set it up as a new not-for-profit organisation, and then was fortunate enough when the CEO role was advertised that. And I was successful in in gaining that.
Francis Lynch: Yeah, become a really.
Angie Paskevicius: And it’s still striving
Francis Lynch: Yeah, an important part of the the sort of support system for people in Perth.
Angie Paskevicius: Yes, yes, definitely.
Francis Lynch: You know this podcast, really. I mean, living with purpose is the title and and one of the questions which is really key is do you do you have a sense for yourself about? Or or how? You would describe purpose in your life and. What that means?
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah. No, I’m. I’m very clear about what that is. And I guess in a way, I’ve I’ve already said that it’s about that strong desire. To give back. To serve and and to make a. Difference and to make a difference in people’s lives, which is really about helping them transform and grow. But. The other side. Of that is. To help in turn to help organisations transform and grow. As the people transform and grow, so does the organisation. And I think you know. The CEO roles I’ve had therapy focus and also holyoak have been around transformation and growth and with the board work that I do my. One of the areas of interest is business transformation. And growth as well. Where there’s a a need for that to happen for various reasons, whether it’s new. And I’ve also. Got interest in startups as well for the same reason.
Francis Lynch: Yeah, because I think you know the opportunity to help an organisation realise it’s potential by having the right systems, the right people, the right governance, you know. That it it’s it’s. It’s sort of interesting because I have some of the same interests and and I think it’s actually there’s. Creativity in that.
Angie Paskevicius: There is, oh, absolutely because innovation. Is, is is one of my areas of interest as well which is which is linked to that about creativity. Doing things differently, being innovative, looking for opportunities, all of that.
Francis Lynch: I know that one of the, you know, holyoak innovations has been drum beat. Which has been around. For quite a while now. But I I wonder about how you see that now, given that it has been there for a while and and how that sort of fits for you in terms of. That that, you know innovation so.
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah, well, definitely still one of the challenges of COVID for us was that as a result of COVID, all of our future bookings for our drum beat training within Australia and in the US got. Pretty much cancelled overnight 100%. Point, which was devastating for the team and and for us and and and not just for us and the team, but the people that book to do the training. There was such a strong outcry from them to us to what can we do? How can you help us, you know? Through this, through the challenging time and so it’s a very small team, but an amazing cohesive team in the drum beat area in our social enterprise and. They pulled together and within four weeks they created drum beat online and a new e-learning platform. With all these videos, all this new content and launched it and that was in May and we’ve already tipped over. Our 101st participant since then. So yeah. And so it’s, it’s just going really well.And you know when we’re talking, we’ve been talking about it. I don’t know. One of the old and it’s it’s for the test of time. But it’s one of the change models by John Cotter. And it talks about having a burning platform. And I hadn’t ever really kind of thought too much about what a burning platform might look like, but we we actually had a burning platform with COVID. Everything got cancelled. We had no choice. We actually had to develop something new. And drum beat online had been on the agenda for so many years and we did have an old version which just. Really needed to be fixed up and was really not worth any value anymore and people never got around to it and looking at it, so this was just the burning platform that meant everyone pulled together and they did what they need to do and launched jumping online and it’s just becoming. They’re very popular. Great feedback.
Francis Lynch: Yeah. No, that’s great, though I do suspect that your team will probably be very happy to get back to face to. Face when they can.
Angie Paskevicius: Yes. Yeah. Well, they’re, they’re. They have been doing some face to face training in in WA but. Unfortunately, current on the East Coast, but there’s. A lot of people. That that had booked the on the face to face that have now converted to the online version, which is good. Yeah. But so drum beat has, so there’s that version. But also we’ve enhanced drum beat. In a number of ways, I mean it. It’s very evidence based, as you know, but contemporary with. Looking at developing modules for veterans developing modules for people in the prison system, adult and not justice programme, things like that, and making sure that the theoretical frameworks around trauma informed practice are incorporated into it and all those sorts of things. You know. It it it? It’s evolving as the evidence base evolves as well.
Francis Lynch:So to sort of touch back on the the purpose, do you think your purpose has remained consistent or has it sort of just developed and and deepened over time or has it changed
Angie Paskevicius: It hasn’t changed it. It’s deepened. I’ve just become clearer and clearer that that’s that is my purpose. Yeah, yeah.
Francis Lynch: And and what gives you the energy to keep going at it going at it?
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah, that’s an interesting question, because for me, I’m I’m it’s not that I get bored easily, but I love variety. I love change. I love things, you know, doing things differently. And as we talked about those opportunities that, that. And and the. It it’s. That’s what gives me energy, but also getting back to my purpose it it’s people changing and growing and making a difference there and that that’s very much on that one to one basis and you don’t get enough of that. Necessarily in the workplace, because of the nature of the workplace. There’s there are. Opportunities for coaching, but not great opportunities, but I mean many opportunities. So I guess the coaching side of things has really gives me that opportunity cause that. That I really feel like when I’m in that place. I’m in the flow. And it’s similar with my board work. I really enjoy share the chair role. Because it’s that. Relationship between the chair and the CEO. And that that’s. Something that that I really enjoy as well.
Francis Lynch: And and you know the so, so really that the interest of having a number of different things which as you said you touched on at the beginning, I mean that that’s giving you the opportunity to really explore what it means to be of service in a whole range of different. Ways yeah.
Angie Paskevicius: Hmm, but to do. I’m very fortunate that I I I can do what I love and what I enjoy and what’s important to me, so I’m very. Grateful for that? Yeah.
Francis Lynch: Are there any particular, you know, books or podcasts or or sources where you get inspiration from as well?
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah. So I’ve I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading. And that the kind of the coaching space. Which is probably a bit obvious. I’m I’m a introvert, so I’ve been reading a little bit lately about introverts. There’s been a a little bit of I guess podcast information and and informational LinkedIn about introverts so quietly powerful. I’m a goomi Nicki is one that resonates with me.Yeah. And she, I, I’ve actually done a podcast with her as well. When she was putting the book together. So that’s, that’s one as well. And also I was very fortunate before COVID to go and see Brené Brown in person in Melbourne and that was great, yeah.And she’s someone that I enjoy as well. I’ve tried. I’ve got a lot of books still on there that I’ve bought that are still on the list to read. Yeah, but I also belong to a book club as well, so. I also have to. Fit in some fiction reading as well.
Francis Lynch: Well, you gotta balance everything out.
Angie Paskevicius: Yeah. Sometimes I wonder, you know, where you find all the time in the day to do all the reading that you wanna do. But because I’m a lifelong learner, I you know, I I enjoy reading not just, you know, books, but I’m always printing off articles to read and things like that. So yeah. There’s always a backlog, but I. I eventually get to them all.
Francis Lynch: So I’m getting to the point of of. Finishing up and I’m just wondering is there anything that you’d like to to sort of say or? Or maybe I haven’t asked the right questions. Is there anything you wanted to say?
Angie Paskevicius: I’ve got a I’m I’m a strong believer in quotes. I love quotes. And there’s just a couple I’d I’d like to share one that. Particularly or two. That are. On a similar topic and then a couple of others. So one from Oscar Wilde is be yourself. Everyone else is taken and I love that one and the other one that’s similar is don’t change who you are. Become more of who you are. And that’s Sally hogs head. I love that one as well.
Francis Lynch: Yeah, that’s great.
Angie Paskevicius: And then there I. Was listening to a podcast one day and I think it was. Conversations, and I don’t even know where this one came from, but. It was a Messiah warrior who had passed away. And what was said was. By the tribe. Every time an elder dies, a library burns to the ground.
Francis Lynch: Oh wow.
Angie Paskevicius: And that just really, really resonated with me. Because you know. There’s that saying that you are who you are because of the books that you read and the people that you associate with. And I just thought that’s such a powerful saying where every time a leader passes away a a library burns to the ground. And then the last one, yeah. The last one I’ll share, and this is by Susan Cain, and she’s written a book called Quiet Power, which is also about introverts. And I actually I. Brought her to Perth and I I went along to listen to. Her, and again, this really resonates. Me as well. Know what’s in your suitcase. It it’s what matters so much to. You that you carry it in. Your heart everywhere you go. Always make sure you take the time to take these things out and share them with others.
Francis Lynch: Thank you, Angie. Thank you for sharing those things with us today. Look, I’ve I’ve been really privileged to be in this conversation with you today and yeah, thanks so much.
Angie Paskevicius: Thank you. Thanks for the opportunity, Francis.