Partner Content, Provided with the support of Charles Sturt University
How do you get started on a bold new vision? In this series supported by CSU, we aim to find out. Starting with how Kristal Kinsela’s mission to get more Indigenous women into business became a reality.
Kristal Kinsela didn’t second-guess herself before joining the consulting firm Indigenous Professional Services (IPS) as a director and owner in 2016. The business was fledgling at the time, but the model was innovative, and Kristal immediately recognised its potential.
As a proud Aboriginal woman, she was also inspired to be part of an organisation that advocated for Indigenous businesses and was itself majority Indigenous owned. She saw the opportunity to create real, positive change in the community.
Her decision was courageous – but being a young mum it was also risky. Kristal was thrown into a role which wasn’t established, and she concedes the first year was the hardest, particularly living in a regional area which wasn’t conducive to business growth.
“I only had a handful of clients and wasn’t making much money because what I was selling wasn’t meeting the market I was living in”, she says.
For this reason, Kinsela made the critical call to move to Sydney, which led to her meeting new business partners and building the profile of IPS quite rapidly. Being in Sydney also allowed Kristal to build her profile through speaking engagements and networking opportunities.
“Your personal brand is just as important as your company one”, says Kristal. “In the world of consulting, your client is buying far more than just a service. They are buying trusted advice and a relationship. My personal brand is who I am, what I stand for, my values and the change I am trying to create”, she explains.
Now, IPS has a range of clients – mainly in the government sector – and is well recognised in the industry. The early success of the business has only made Kristal more determined though, and she dreams “of seeing IPS on the top of a Sydney skyscraper” and acquiring well over 100 staff within a short period.
As well as this, IPS is continually “looking at new strategies and diversifying into new areas to contribute to the Indigenous business sector”, she says, adding that it’s “a work in progress”.
Kristal’s huge aspirations stem predominantly from a strong sense of family and a desire to make her children and community proud.
“I come from a big Aboriginal family, and we’re close”, she tells us. “I’m a motivated person and learnt early on that nothing comes to you; you make stuff happen. My grandmother once told me, ‘Nothing will ever be given to you on a silver platter, and you shouldn’t expect it to be’. That has stayed with me my entire life.”
Kristal also describes a thirst to get started and work hard for whatever she sets her sights on. After experiencing poverty as a child and watching her mum struggle to keep a roof over the family’s head, she has never taken simple luxuries for granted. “I’m motivated to achieve and create things. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I work on something, and I know it will have benefits for others. It makes you feel good”, she says.
Her kids are also a significant driving force behind her will to succeed. She recalls being pregnant with her daughter as a 24 year old, while still at university. “Many people said that was the end of me”, she says. “But from the moment I held my daughter in my arms, I knew I was going to do something big, and I was going to show her she could be something and create change.”
“I’ve never let being a mum stop me from achieving what I wanted – if anything it’s been the source of inspiration that has made me more determined. To create a pathway for them, to be a positive role model and to make the world a better place for them.”
Her leadership style is simply expressed as a “combination of head, heart and guts”. The best leaders, she says, are “thoughtful, honest, transparent, have integrity, passion and the ability to take risks”.
The best leaders are also those who inspire future generations to think big. “Actions speak louder than words”, she says. “I want young girls to see what I do, and think to themselves that they can too. I’ll often use my story to connect with girls and demonstrate that you can come from poor upbringings, face racism and stereotypes, but it can be overcome – you have choices, and the future is in your own hands.”
Ready to get your dream started? Charles Sturt University (CSU) can kickstart your future with practical, industry-aligned, flexible degrees. Start Now with CSU.