Lina Patel

Who are you Lina Patel?
I’m a collaborative problem solver

What cool skills and superpowers do you possess?
My real superpower is that I have super-fast reflexes, but don’t test me on that!  I can generally catch things as they’re falling off tables.

I can create order-from-chaos.  For example I like meaty client challenges where there could be a thousand ways to solve the problem and charting out an approach to get from here to there. I like using a shipbuilding metaphor: I’m pretty good at telling you what kind of ship you need to get if you’re clear on where you want to go.  If you give me a ‘why’, I can tell you ‘how’.

I’m widely inclusive.  I’m always listening to hear the voice that’s not present.  In any situation I’m always thinking: who isn’t here that needs to be here.

I like to call myself a ‘posse-wrangler’.  I gather people towards an outcome.  For example, I’m really proud of a crowd-funded Centre for Sustainability Leadership (CSL) Indigenous scholarship that I created with a CSL alumni and friends of CSL at the start of this year.

I’m also a professional matchmaker, but not in the sense that you’re probably thinking!  I love matching people on a mutual professional basis.  I like being able to connect people in my own network with others.

Tell us how you came to be at Collabforge?
Serendipity!  Right place, right time is the best way to summarise it.  After I finished the CSL program I was very keen to apply my 15+ years of experience in the corporate world (KPMG & NAB), to work worth doing.

And what is your role here?
‘Chief chaos controller’ is probably the best way to describe it!  I run the PMO (project management office), manage the finances across all projects and am a project manager/designer on some of our projects.  Basically all things operational to do with running the business. Oh I also keep things tidy!

What excites you about being here?
The Collabforge vision really excites me.  It’s utterly ambitious and insanely massive.

[Currently: “Global Collaboration Capability”]

What are the less exciting bits?
I don’t think there are any for me yet.  It’s too early to say.  Ask me in a year’s time!

What are some of your best collaboration tips that our readers might find useful?
Many of my ideas about collaboration come from being a student of the Alexander Technique, particularly thinking about my whole self and keeping all my senses wide open.

  1. Keep your peripheral vision open rather than narrowing too early.  Stay attentive to your peripheral vision.
  2. You’ve gotta meet people where they’re at.  You’ve got to start with a position of empathy for where they’re at.  It’s not about getting people to work in the way that you think is collaborative, but in a way that is collaborative for them.
  3. Ask yourself if you’re noticing what voice is missing from the conversation.  Who is someone who is affected by, or can affect, the outcomes of the collaboration and is not participating in the conversation.

What’s an ideal day off for you?
Sleep-in!  A skype call with my family and friends interstate.  A walk around Melbourne CBD. Meeting up with a friend –  for me, spending quality time with one person is solid gold.    

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
I’ve always been quite drawn to crocodiles!  I have a really strong affinity with crocodiles since I was a kid.  They’re ancient, virtually dinosaurs.  I love that there’s this modern instance of this really ancient creature.  How does it relate to me? I like to lie around in the sun and I’m snappy!

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