Young Interim CEO Leads Through COVID

March 1, 2021

Zane Ali is now part of a unique alumni. A leader who cut his CEO teeth during COVID.

Zane is a young and accomplished leader who took up his first C-Suite role in 2020, just as COVID presented itself on the world stage.

As Interim CEO of MS Queensland, a Statewide, For Purpose organisation responding to the needs of people living with Multiple Sclerosis, Zane met COVID19 head on as he navigated the organisation successfully through 2020.

In this Episode hear how Zane took his financial skills into the Corporate sector straight out of uni, however he had intrinsic drivers that pulled him towards the For Purpose Sector.  

Zane has brought his unique skill-set of financial acumen, business savvy and a deep empathy for people in need into the For Purpose sector, where he has grown in career for the past fifteen years.  Zane’s narrative will engage listeners, no matter where they are on their own leadership journey.

Pivoting Sectors
  • Zane started his career in tax and financial accounting with Downer, Foot Locker & Elliotts Accounting, and had a big aha moment when he watched a friend and colleague win acknowledgement for being an outstanding employee for the Asia Pacific Region. Up until then, Zane had been very successful living in the present moment. This aha moment saw Zane shift into setting goals and making plans to achieve those goals. This has boosted his leadership journey.
  • shares his personal journey, and his early desire to shift from the Commercial sector to the For Purpose Sector.
Aged Care
  • Zane's initial pivot saw him working in senior leadership roles in the Aged Care Sector, at both Blue Care and later with RSL Care,
Multicultural Support and Services
  • Zane took up the role of CFO and Manager, Corporate Services with Multicultural Development Australia.
  • He shares his very personal insights, gained through the narrative of the journey made by his parents-in-law as refugees fleeing the Civil War in El-Salvador to find a safe place to raise their children.
  • Zane's own background is a cultural mix and while he was born in Australia, Zane is passionate about providing support and making Australia a welcome place for those who seek to call this country home.
  • Zane is actively engaged in the multicultural community, playing football and participating with his young family in the multicultural community and its celebrations.
Disability Services
  • Zane joined MS Queensland as Executive General Manager, Corporate Services in 2019.
  • In 2020, Zane was appointed as Interim CEO by the Board of MS Queensland.

Insights and Takeaways
  • The skills you gain through studies and early work experience don't dictate where you will take your career.
  • Be conscious of what your deeper drivers are, and be set your path for your desired goals.
  • Gaining skills such as those gained in finance or other areas, are a great platform or springboard into any sector as you grow your career. They become the building blocks.
  • To build a leadership career you must be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and take risks - having brought a range of lenses to the situation.
  • Put up your hand to lead projects at work that are outside your area of expertise to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Push aside feelings of "Imposter Syndrome" when you find business is not longer "Business as Usual". Back yourself, step up and you will find your leadership capabilities will come to the fore.
  • Leadership is about people - and stepping up and leading people requires us to focus even more on our people.
  • Leadership is also about team - and a successful leader will have everyone pulling together to achieve the shared vision.
  • Leadership is also about partnerships, and finding ways to achieve outcomes through collaboration and innovation.
  • Stepping up into a CEO role and successfully navigating the first year of COVID, Zane identified two key ingredients to his success: A trusted, respectful and supportive relationship with his Executive Team and with his Board of Directors.