Kelly Pfeffer Top 5 Pearls of Wisdom

It’s Top 5 Pearls of Wisdom time and this month we are sharing some great insight from one of Australia’s leading personalities in the graduate recruitment and development space.

Kelly Pfeffer has been specialising in the graduate recruitment and development space for over 10 years and has managed programs in Queensland Government, Suncorp, TechnologyOne and GHD.  Actively engaged in the industry in Australia, Kelly has also volunteered on the Board and Committee of the Australian Association of Graduate Employers.


  1. Adversity can be a good thing – difficult situations will arise no matter who you work for or how experienced you are.  Whether it be organisational change, your project is cancelled or something happening in your personal life, some of our greatest lessons come from facing tough times and realising what you can still achieve.  Rather than focussing only on the negative (because we all will in varying degrees), take time to reflect on what happened, how you handled it and what you might do differently next time.  Knowing the best way to care for yourself is also a great thing to think about now.
  2. Not all leaders are created equal – when I was younger, I immediately looked up to anyone more senior to me.  What I worked out eventually (after working for a few different people) is that not all leaders are awesome at being leaders.  I think when you work this out, it makes it easier to adapt and work within the team environment you find yourself.  Managing upwards is an important skill to be aware of and learn more about.  In addition, different tools that help you to identify your communication preferences, how you like to work, and your strengths etc. will help you to better understand yourself and those around you and in turn you can adapt and adjust to different situations you find yourself in.
  3. Learn through others – whether this is through colleagues, leaders, mentors or family it really does not matter as long as you open your mind to different perspectives and leverage the experience of others.  Not all of it will be relevant all the time, but you will be surprised when and how often you draw on that knowledge.  I do a lot of reading and scanning of information written by people that I relate to and who I find inspirational.   I prefer reading biographies to business specific books, as I enjoy learning from the experiences and lessons learned of others rather than books focussed on telling you how to do something.  LinkedIn is also another great platform to follow people that you admire.
  4. Be patient – not everything happens as quickly as you want, particularly when it comes to your career.   You will be working for a long time, so do not think you need to achieve everything in the first five years.  As you mature, your interests will change, as well as your outlook on life, and so your career will move with these changes.  One of my favourite sayings is from Ralph Waldo Emerson “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”.   I am in a job now that I never knew existed when I was 20.  It has taken me a few lateral moves and saying ‘yes’ to new opportunities to find the purpose I now have in my career.
  5. It is OK to ask for help – not everyone knows everything all the time, nor can we navigate through every situation smoothly and without mishap.  Asking for help when we really need it is not a sign of failure.  If anything, if done well, it also empowers the people around you who are willing to help and support you.   Having a mentor (either formally or informally) can be a great support early in your career.   I have found mentors in my life have taught me in many ways, either through me observing their behaviour, or challenging my way of thinking or approaching certain circumstances. Remember, a good mentor will not ‘give’ you the answer, but help guide you to come up with the answer yourself.