CEO Roy Rogers had an open-door policy at Flagstaff from day one and was accessible to anyone, whether they worked in the laundry or senior management.
This is something his successor Rodney Clark hopes to continue as Roy heads into retirement.
“I’ve been really fortunate to be able to work with Roy for seven years, and you don’t work with someone for that long without learning,” Rodney said.
“I will definitely be taking a lot of Roy’s leadership qualities on board and will be hopefully replicating them.”
Rodney will be working even closer with Roy for the next month as he learns the ropes and transitions from executive manager of life choices and support into the top job.
“Being a part of the leadership team, I think it’s really important to make sure Flagstaff stays on that path and the best way to ensure that happens is to put my hand up and to continue the great work that Roy’s already doing,” Rodney said.
“I think it’s definitely one thing I’ve learnt from Roy is don’t expect anyone to do what you’re not prepared to do yourself.”
“Having an internal appointment is an easier transition,” Roy said. “They’re used to Rod and the team that’s here so that makes it a lot nicer to transition for me to move out and for him to move in and the ease of continuing what we already do.”
Roy has been at Flagstaff for 18 years and has been at the helm of the not-for-profit organisation for 15 years.
He joined in 2005, tasked by the CEO of the time with straightening out the businesses and making them sustainable.
“He said I have these four or five different businesses, they all fight each other and I want to be able to bring them together and commercialise them,” Roy said.
Roy didn’t plan to stay long once the job was complete but the constant changes and challenges kept him interested.
And eventually, under his leadership, the organisation transformed into much more than a commercial enterprise.
“When I first came in as CEO we weren’t providing any other supports for people with disability apart from employment,” Roy said. “That’s basically all that we did.”
“So we brought in transition to work and then slowly evolved into providing lots of other support.”
He said he’d watched attitudes change throughout his time at the organisation and said although the community was more accepting of people with disabilities entering the workforce, the overall outcomes have not changed enough.
“There’s a greater understanding of the different disabilities that are out there and where they fit and how they can fit into employment, but unfortunately the take-up of a person with disability moving into employment is very low,” Roy said.
“Only about seven per cent of people with an intellectual disability will achieve open employment.”
Rodney said that improving these options would be an ongoing challenge for the organisation which he’s committed to tackling.
“I think it’s ensuring that anyone who wants employment gets that opportunity,” Rodney said.
“There are people with all different barriers and different skill sets but if you choose that you want to have employment as part of your future, it is making sure that Flagstaff can provide that for them and that it can be delivered in a sustainable way as well.”
He said the services that Flagstaff offered helped many people have greater control over their career, achieve important milestones and build relationships.
“I think a big part of who we are is what we do for a job, so being able to provide those opportunities is something that we will never take for granted and something we’re really proud of,” Rodney said.
After years at the organisation and months of preparing to take over the new position, Rodney will step into the role of CEO on 1 July.
Roy will continue to work until August to make the transition as easy as possible.
“I’ll be able to come to work late, go home early, go out for lunch and have no responsibilities,” Roy joked.
But while the next few months will be a learning experience for the whole organisation, Roy’s top tips for success are clear and simple.
“My advice to everybody has always been, be fair, firm and consistent,” Roy said.
“If you’re fair with people, if you’re firm with them so they know their boundaries, and you’re consistent so you don’t have favourites, then you’ll gain respect and you’ll gain trust.”