Alena Bennett's Upcoming Events

Uncategorized Sep 10, 2020

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Are you okay?

Uncategorized Sep 10, 2020

As you probably know, today is RU OK day: the day we take a moment to check in on the people in our world. This year has undoubtedly been challenging for everyone in such a vast variety of ways. Our strength, resilience and resolve has been tested. 

I'd like to honour today for what it stands for.

Are you okay?

I am genuinely interested to hear what you have to say. I am here to listen.

I have been sharing with a group of peers that I have recently recommenced my Life SAVERS.  This is because I know that when I start the day with my Life SAVERS my head is clear, I feel calm, confident and focused. I can perform at my best.

SAVERS is an acronym crafted by Hal Elrod in his book, Miracle Morning, and it stands for:

Silence (Meditation)





Scribing (Journaling)

The premise in The Miracle Morning is that if you wake up 1 hour earlier each morning and spend 10 minutes on each of these activities, you will unlock...

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Would you like your team to be mindreaders? (and how to help them)

Uncategorized Sep 03, 2020

I am fortunate enough to have a great team around me to support me delivering the work I do. One of my team members, Sophie, works with me to deliver the Meaning Matters Online Program and is about to move onto the Leading Women in Finance Network.

We had our weekly 1:1 this week and I had a few things on my list. She started the meeting by saying, “One of the things I wanted to talk about with you was the Meaning Matters Workbook. We haven’t talked about it for awhile, but I've had a go at updating the full workbook based on the improvements we have made during the program.”


Guess what? Here is the first thing I had on my list for the agenda: 


I then just about fell over myself when Sophie proceeded to walk me through the workbook she had updated. She had literally read my mind and done the work in advance of me asking.

“Structure”: The 5th “S” of Presence

Structure is one of my 5 “Ss” of...

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Are you becoming "I-centric"?

Uncategorized Aug 21, 2020

I need to deliver this outcome.

I need to get this job.

I need to convince them I’m right.

I need to show them what I can do.

I need to make myself look good.

I need to sell myself and I don’t like it.


See a pattern?

It’s crunch time. Whether you’re at the pointy end of you financial year-end, looking for your next role, or starting a new major project, it’s stressful. There is a lot pressure - internal and external - to get an outcome. And as high performing leaders in finance, we tend to place a lot of that pressure on ourselves. So begins, our “I-centric” dialogue.

What this sounds like

During year-end 

“I need to deliver the accounts to the Audit Committee by next week. I hope I can meet the deadline. My team are a bit of a problem as they probably won’t deliver on time. In fact, I’ll probably need to work every evening this week and over the weekend to get through it all. I can’t afford for any...

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Does It Feel Hard Right Now?

Uncategorized Aug 14, 2020

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed the level of intensity and stress experienced by leaders in finance has increased significantly. The words consistently used are exhausted, stressed, worn out, weary, challenging, fatigued, reduced resilience, crunch time, meeting fatigue…you get the drift. 

The other trend that has come through in the many workshops I’ve run recently is that when I ask them the question: “What is the best thing to come out of COVID-19?” the highest polling response is “Time to reflect on what really matters to me.” (And don’t get me wrong, I don’t try and swing the responses, I give a range of responses including, “Nothing - it’s all sucked” as an option.)

A new trend emerging: clarity and chaos

Despite the fact that some of us are in the middle of our financial year-end, and naturally it’s busy - insanely busy - there is an interesting trend emerging.

On one hand we appear...

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Tomorrow is International Self-Care Day

Uncategorized Jul 23, 2020

Year-end and self care in the same sentence? You’ve got to be kidding me, I hear you saying through the wifi waves! But yes, tomorrow is International Self Care Day (ISD) which is held on July 24th each year to provide a focus and opportunity to raise the profile of healthy lifestyle self-care programmes around the world.

As someone who has previously over indulged in year-end ‘self-care’ of Vegemite on turkish toast (I’m showing my age - if you’re young and cool, that's smashed avo to you), more coffees than you can count on one hand and become a frequent flyer at Dan Murphys, only to come out of the year-end fog and go into a period of undoing all of that damage, I felt it was an important message to share.

Year-end for leaders in finance is a really challenging time. It is our grand final, for want of a better analogy. It’s the culmination of all the work we have done each month: when things go wrong, stakeholders...

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Compelling Communication: Your Audit Committee Report

Uncategorized Jul 16, 2020

What issues concern your Audit Committee?

Like leaders in finance themselves, Audit Committees are under intense pressure at the moment to discharge their responsibilities in this difficult climate. Have you seen this list of questions directed specifically to your Audit Committee members released by the Australian Institute of Company Directors? Phew - that’s a long list. 

But the emphasis is clear: now is the time to make sure your Audit Committee report is clear, concise and captures the most important elements of the financial reporting control environment in your organisation. 


What are the assumptions that might be reducing the quality of your Audit Committee report?

Accuracy is the foundation of an effective financial reporting environment and it is easy to assume that your Audit Committee want exhaustive analysis on how every number in your financial report is accurate. Note: the operative word in that sentence is exhausting.

Gone are the days that...

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What conversation do you need to have now?

Uncategorized Jul 10, 2020

We’re staring down the barrel of year-end. Traditionally it’s the busiest time of year, and to add to that, we are now facing crunch time through COVID-19. Our Victorian colleagues have just gone back into lockdown, which means that they are again shifting their plans to get the team working efficiently and accurately from their remote environments.

What assumptions do you hold about this situation?

I’m hearing a lot of people say, ‘this is going to slow us down, my team is going to be more inefficient’, and I’d say there are elements of truth in that statement. But, if you were to break that down into your year-end component parts, what would that tell you? Consider the preparation of your Audit Committee paper. What is that process, and who contributes to it? It likely has an owner, who compiles the information from the relevant parts of your finance team and then it’s someone’s role to make it consistent and compelling for...

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What gives you goose bumps (and what does it mean)?

Uncategorized Jun 26, 2020

I recently was interviewed by a good friend and mentor of mine, Renee Giarrusso. In her first book, Limitless Leadership, she uses a beautiful metaphor throughout her book to bring her concepts to life: her favourite movie, Wizard of Oz. We often use metaphors in conversation to help us make meaning of something: to bring a concept to life or to help the other person ‘experience’ what we’re talking about. The reason why they’re effective is that they're simple: they simplify the complex and evoke emotion which ultimately helps us really connect to the experience. There is a whole lot of brain science that explains why this happens, but I’ll spare you the detail. The point is, metaphors provide us with meaning and it's important we recognise their value in our careers.

Is your thing sport? One of my clients is the Executive General Manager of Risk at a high growth public company. He needed to articulate the role of risk within...

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Why Your Voice Counts ?

Uncategorized Jun 19, 2020

A big part of presence is being able to have a voice. And yes, we all have a voice - we were born with the ability for words to come out of our mouths. But ‘having a voice’ means that when you say something, people listen. As leaders in finance, people may listen to you simply by virtue of your level within your organisation: as the CFO, the FD, or the GM of Finance people listen. Some of you will say, ‘Alena, people listen to me because I have worked to earn their respect’ and that’s great, too.

Not everyone has that opportunity.  In fact, leaders in finance themselves often get to a point in their careers where they feel like they aren’t being heard. That despite their proven track record over the years, the continued production of high quality work, they realise that the opportunities they want aren’t coming their way. The problems they have endured, experienced and expressed year on year still haven’t been fixed. That...

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