Introducing Athena Blue Global’s New Associate Director

We are proud to formally announce the appointment of our new Associate Director - Annabel Khoo. We interview Annabel to understand her new role and how her journey began at Athena Blue Global.

How did your journey begin with Athena Blue Global?

In my background as an interior designer, I was able to gain experience in a variety of areas, including commercial workplace, health, education, correctional and hospitality. I had the opportunity to work with Christian Pistauer, our Workplace & Change Director, on multiple workplace projects over the years and really enjoyed collaborating with him. As well as learning his approaches to workplace strategy and change management, and seeing first-hand how these services influenced the success of each project. Everyone wants their projects to succeed, including myself, so I was incredibly interested because this approach helped organisations to maximise the opportunities for success. Through these collaboration opportunities, I developed a deeper understanding of data on the workplace and how people worked could be analysed and translated into workplace strategies and spatial briefings.  Additionally, I was able to learn the different nuances of change management to help organisations successfully adopt new ways of working.

Being offered the role as a Workplace and Change Strategist with Athena Blue Global was a great opportunity for me to build on what I had already learnt. It also provided the opportunity to be able to work closer with organisations from an early stage, to really tailor how they worked to their business and what this meant for their workspaces. 

During your role at Athena Blue Global, how has your role evolved in the last few years? 

Over my time with Athena Blue Global, I’ve enjoyed leading workplace and change management projects across Australia and New Zealand for a variety of local to global clients. Every client works in a different way, which makes every project exciting.

In my new role as Associate Director, I’ll have oversight across Athena Blue Global’s workplace consultancy services – Workplace Strategy, Technology Strategy & Services, Sustainability & Wellbeing, Project & Accommodation Support and Change Management. I really enjoy working with people and this role allows me to broaden the engagement I get to have with and within organisations.

What have been some of the key challenges you have overcome during the years at Athena Blue Global?

It seems so second nature now but getting used to virtual meetings and workshops was initially challenging during the early Covid period. While we were able to quickly pivot our services online to maintain engagement during lockdowns, it was such a different way of engaging compared to face-to-face, where you could read people’s body language and tailor your engagement with them as needed. While there are different cues I’ve learnt to pick up on to help gauge engagement online, I definitely have a better appreciation of how many cues our brain subconsciously picks up from a person’s whole body language.

Covid also lockdowns created a lot of uncertainty for organisations. It required a sudden shift to remote working during lockdowns that many organisations weren’t prepared for – from technology through to flexible working guidelines, communicating changes through to staying connected. As a team, our previous experience in workplace strategy, technology strategy and change management, allowed us to quickly adapt. Plus, this allowed us to expand on our knowledge to support organisations understand how to best approach the shift to remote working and now hybrid working. Hybrid working is here to stay and there’s no one-sized fits all approach. For many organisations, they’re still trying to define what hybrid work means for their way of working and their workplaces and we’d recommend they consider a managed flexibility approach.

What have been some of the key learning milestones?

The importance of tailoring how you communicate with different organisations based on their industries and focus. Additionally, through different engagement activities, it’s important to further tailor information and messaging to suite the different stakeholder groups within each organisation. Consideration of each audiences key concerns and questions is always a good starting point, as it allows us to articulate and share information in a way that reflects what people want to know.

Also something we’ve seen on projects time and time again, leadership buy-in to an organisation’s future way of working and workplace has one of the largest impacts on the implementation and success of a project. However, it’s not just c-suite. One other key stakeholders is middle management, who are in a position of both learning and adopting changes introduced by senior leadership while also implementing and leading their teams through the changes. It’s important to consider their engagement through the change management process, to help provide them with the tools and information to lead their teams confidently in a new way of working.

Outside of your role at Athena Blue Global, what do you enjoy doing the most?

Conversation and (as they say) laughter is the best medicine, so I always enjoy spending time with family and friends. I also love to travel and experience different cultures, there’s so much out there to see and do. I find travel is such an amazing way to broaden one’s perspective, particularly areas that are off the beaten track, where you can really experience the local lifestyle and cuisine. My bucket list is to have visited as many countries as however old I am. I’m a few behind at the moment but definitely looking forward to catching up.


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