Local Leaders

Galia’s flexible approach to leadership makes Synergy shine

Genevieve Jacobs18 February 2020
Galia Cornish

Galia Cornish’s approach to leadership at Synergy is people-focussed and innovative. Photo: Supplied.

Yoga on the grass outside the office might not be the very first thing you associate with the CEO of a dynamic professional services company. But Galia Cornish from Synergy is not your average corporate leader.

The professional services firm is certainly a significant player in the Canberra market: it turns over around $85 million per annum and employs 325 people to deliver consulting services across the Commonwealth Government market.

Last year, the Australian Financial Review reported that Synergy had the third-fastest rate of revenue growth on their top 100 list of accounting firms.

But the successful delivery of those goals relies on people, and people are what Galia is all about.

There’s a strong focus at Synergy on being easy to work with, and easy to work for, and that’s where the yoga (and a few other interesting alternative people management tools) come in.

Galia took the traditional senior management path of MBA qualifications initially. But as her career evolved, she found herself thinking about how to consult more effectively and make a bigger impact – not only on individual problems but also on how well her clients’ businesses functioned across the board.

“I realised I could facilitate workshops and the like but not deliver real change,” she says.

That was a catalysing moment: psychology qualifications followed and Galia now brings her skills as a yoga teacher to bear on her leadership at Synergy. The focus is always on how to facilitate useful, meaningful change for both clients and staff.

“I know it sounds a little left field”, Galia says, but her point is that fusing traditional, Western management thinking and understanding of individual psychology with Eastern practices creates a holistic way to look at problems. It’s at the heart of what corporate-speak often refers to these days as disruption: at its best, a way to address problems from a different perspective.

Galia says that “no problem is easily solved with logic and analysis alone,” emphasising that it can be worthwhile to sometimes simply sit with a problem rather than wrestling for an immediate answer.

In the workplace, she’s a believer in creating the kind of social dynamic in which staff see Synergy as a supportive and welcoming place to work that’s also human-centred.

The work expectations are flexible and Synergy is proud to have a low staff turnover – around seven per cent – and a very positive workplace environment. Instead of a restrictive attitude, the key consideration is whether client needs are met and staff adhere to professional standards.

Galia says her management approach is never to walk past the tricky problems you don’t want to see.

“At a tactical level you have to call out behaviour and make the workplace more inclusive,” she says. “I want my staff and my clients to be heard and to feel understood.”

Original Article published by Genevieve Jacobs on The RiotACT.

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