Having achieved incredible success, such as NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year, Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year and a finalist in the Women’s Agenda Agenda Setter of the Year, plus her biggest achievement, being a mother, Kristal Kinsela is setting the way as an inspirational woman on many levels. FOCUS chatted with Kristal about her success and return to Port Macquarie …
What’s your connection to the Greater Port Macquarie area?
I first moved to Port Macquarie in 2008 for a position at North Coast TAFE. My children were very little at the time. Port Macquarie offered a beautiful lifestyle and a great place to raise the kids.
You’ve been quite the mover and shaker in business over the past few years; what have been some of your achievements?
I met my business partners, Katina Law and Damien Chalk, in late 2015, and they invited me to join Indigenous Professional Services (IPS) in 2016. We clicked immediately and recognised we shared the same vision and values. Building IPS has been life changing. Our success includes winning 13 contracts worth $1.4 Million in the 16/17 year with Federal Government Departments through the Indigenous Procurement Policy. We were one of four Indigenous businesses that the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet recognised as a success story, and they made a case study video about us. Our growth helped us grow our team rapidly from the three of us to 15 staff in less than a year.
I was also recognised for my contributions in working with Indigenous communities, Indigenous businesses, leaders and women across Australia and won two awards, 2017 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year, and 2017 Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year. Most recently I was one of ten prominent Indigenous leaders in a historic meeting to present a statement to the Council Of Australian Governments on the Closing the Gap refresh, with the Prime Minister personally acknowledging me in his Closing the Gap report to Parliament.
How did you cope with facing the challenges of being away from your family?
It was the hardest decision I ever made when I decided to move back to Sydney in late 2015. But, it was a choice I made for the benefit of my children. We all needed a circuit breaker; my children to have the stability of one home, for me to rebuild myself after a marriage failure and to explore the opportunities the business world presented.
I experienced harsh criticism when I moved away, but not once did I ever concede to it. I coped because I focused on maintaining a positive relationship with my children; returning to Port Macquarie to see them one week a month and staying in constant communication by phone.
I constantly surround myself with positive family and friends, maintain a healthy lifestyle and just put my head down and work my butt off.
I owe a lot to my fiancé, Kevin, who has been a rock to me, grounded me and supported me through everything.
As a woman in business and a mother, what advice can you give to those seeking to chase their careers and dreams, but perhaps feeling held back?
The times have changed. Being a mother isn’t all that defines you as a woman. You can have it all, but it will require sacrifices, high levels of coordination and determination. The best place to start is to think about what is important to you, set goals and strive to achieve them.
You’re now back in Port (for good); what are your plans?
I returned to Port because of my daughter, Allayah. She’s going through those teenage years, and she needs her mum. So the plan is really to spend as much time as I can with both my children, and nurture my daughter as she grows into our next leader. I’m juggling my business from Port and hope to attract some local work to stop me from travelling all the time. I’m also planning a wedding and looking to buy a new home. Basically, settling right back into the wonderful lifestyle.
Tell us about the project you’re working on with CSU.
I’ve been collaborating with CSU since last year on Walan Mayinygu Innovation Pop Up Hubs for Indigenous business owners, established and budding entrepreneurs. We’ve delivered the hubs in Dubbo and Albury, and finally are coming to Port 6 – 8 March. The “pop up hubs” provide learning events, including business masterclasses, practical workshops, panel discussions, guest speakers and networking. I will be facilitating a workshop and panel discussions alongside many other successful Indigenous entrepreneurs.
Where can our readers go to follow your journey and get in touch?
The best place to find me is on social media: follow me on Twitter Kristal_Kinsela or Facebook @kristalekinsela or Instagram Kristal_Kinsela and IPS at @indigenousprofessionalservices