Meet the Interchangers : Dr Melissa Giles
PhD in Organisational Psychology, mother of two and culture extraordinaire, Melissa Giles wears all the hats at once, and she does it with style.
As one of our very talented Consulting Directors, Melissa brings an array of problem-solving skills to the Interchange toolbox. She understands human behaviour and culture like nobody’s business and leads like Jacinda Ardern – with empathy and passion.
Melissa’s analytical skills are perfectly complemented by her creative touch, gracing every project she works on with true, individualistic genius.
We had a bit of a chat to Melissa to hear about what she is most proud of, her irrational fear of moths and more.
What is your background/past working experience?
When I was an undergrad, I secured a position in professional services, working at what was then Arthur Andersen. I moved over to Ernst & Young and after several years decided to leave professional services for a role at NAB.
My next career move saw me working for a luxury retail brand, leaving behind my time in large corporates. After that, I decided to embark on a solo venture and ran my own consultancy for 4 years. I was studying my PhD at the time, so the flexibility that came along with running my own business was hugely beneficial.
This all lead me to where I am now, working with an incredibly professional and creative team at Interchange.
What lead you to work at Interchange?
Well, I met Gabe and Eve through a work connection and I was instantly drawn to their energy and passion. I loved the creative angle to the business and the way they looked at situations in unique and interesting ways.
The team was the other factor that drew me to work at Interchange. They’re a quirky and diverse group of people who are all so committed to doing great work. That kind of culture was something I wanted to be a part of.
Eve and Gabe with their infectious passion and energy.
What is your favourite part of your job and why?
Without a doubt, my favourite part of my job is helping our clients. I love being invited into organisations to gain an understanding of their inner workings including what’s currently working for them and what’s not.
We’re then able to partner with them to help ease their challenges and build upon their strengths. This sense of collaboration and problem solving is something I really enjoy, especially when outstanding results are an outcome.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently designing two programs for a construction company. One focuses on mental health and wellbeing, while the other focuses on leading a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Over the last week, we’ve been deep in the Discover phase, running interviews and focus groups with construction leaders and employees to explore these topics. I’m now about to get into the detailed design phase, which is always so exciting.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I have two young boys, so, to be honest, they dominate my social life with their birthday parties and playdates happening most weekends!
I also love reading and yoga. They are my go-to’s when I want to relax and switch off.
If I could choose absolutely anything though, my favourite thing to do is to travel. Every time we go away, I’m already planning my next trip on the way home. I love it so much.
A snazzy photo from Melissa’s last holiday in Fiji.
What are you most proud of?
I actually have two. I’m very proud of the fact that I completed my PhD. Many people start PhDs and don’t complete them – which is completely understandable. It is a test of endurance and perseverance! I was also on a tight deadline – I wrote up my thesis when I was pregnant and I actually submitted it the day before I gave birth to my second son. I had exactly 12 hours to rest before starting the next chapter of my life!
I’m also very proud of my two boys. They drive me crazy and, at times, are very ‘spirited’ (aka naughty!). Being a parent is hands down the most challenging thing I have done in my life. But my boys are growing up to be kind and thoughtful individuals, who genuinely care about other people and want to embrace all that life offers
What is your favourite family tradition?
We always have pancakes on special day’s – birthday’s, Easter, Christmas, Mother’s / Father’s Day, etc. It is a great way to start the day. We sit around and eat a delicious breakfast together, sharing piles of pancakes.
What are some events/ people in your life that helped shape who you are?
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some extremely inspirational and strong women. I have benefitted greatly from these connections as they’ve shaped my career and influenced who I am as a leader.
But from a personal perspective, my parent’s instilled in me a very strong work ethic. My dad has always said that it isn’t about how smart you are, but how much effort you put in. That’s what really matters.
What irrational fear do you have?
I absolutely hate moths. Even talking about them makes me feel anxious and uncomfortable. They fly…that’s the issue. They’re blind and yet somehow, they follow you around. Those wings! That weird dust! No, not for me.
The nightmare. The horror. The moth.