Since starting her career in 1995, Cass Fraser has thrown her hat in the ring for just about everything. Over the last twenty plus years, she’s worked in Customer Service, Hospitality, Finance, Marketing, Event Management and Health and Safety. As for her personal life, she’s an author, gardener, knitter, painter, soccer team manager and a dedicated mum. Speaking with Cass, you get the feeling that it all comes down to her unique outlook - rather than pursuing a linear career trajectory, she follows her passions.
In 2017, Cass and her husband, Andrew, were ready to leave their hometown of Mount Isa to start the next chapter with their young family.
'We toyed with Brisbane or Townsville as the next major cities familiar to us. Then I saw a real estate program filmed in Toowoomba - and I loved everything about it! I really enjoy the outdoors and gardening, so we started to look for roles in Toowoomba.'
The new kid on the block: Joining USQ
When Andrew secured a role in Toowoomba, the family packed up and drove 1,800km southeast to Toowoomba. Struggling to find a role that suited her, Cass continued to work as a contractor until a perfect opportunity came up here at USQ.
'They were looking for someone with a diverse background in policy, insurance and finance. I was really excited as it played on my skills. So I applied - and two years on, here I am!'
Having only ever lived in Mount Isa, Cass found moving to Toowoomba challenging at first. Yet, after immersing herself in the wider community and forging connections within USQ, she began to feel at home.
'I’d come from a town where everyone knew everybody, to a place where I had to put myself out there. But I found so many friendship groups for all kinds of interests including gardening, writing, parenting and exercise / sport groups such as walking, yoga, netball, volleyball and bootcamps. I’ve made some really good friends here.'
Joining USQ, Cass immediately got involved in a number of initiatives and committees to connect with her colleagues. In doing so, she’s shaped her role to make the most of her diverse skill-set.
'As Finance Support Officer, I report to the Director of Financial Reporting and Budgets, but I support everyone in the team. My role is diverse, but it was initially contingent on people providing me work. So I expanded my responsibilities and began to see myself as an advocate for financial services within USQ. I joined the Social Committee and Safety Committee, and became Chief Fire Warden. I got my name out there - and now I have plenty on my plate! I love keeping busy and challenging myself.'
Unlocking creativity through professional development
Looking back on the last two and half years with us, Cass says she’s found an employer that truly invests in her, and a role that grows as she does. In particular, she’s proud to use the skills she’s learned in USQ courses to benefit her colleagues, and in turn, our students.
'We’re so lucky at USQ because we are surrounded by highly skilled people - so we can learn anything very quickly. Whether it be one-to-one professional development sessions as part of the ‘Enrich’ development program or being involved in various committees, I’ve learned so much on the job here. I’ve also done several courses. I’ve actually just completed a Creativity and Entrepreneurship course. Creativity is sought-after in this age - particularly when it comes to adapting in light of COVID-19.'
Cass says she’s harnessed her creativity through formal training at USQ. Importantly, she shares that this has been integral to her own performance.
'Finance doesn't appeal to everyone and accountants often use jargon. When I first started, I was developing the training framework for financial services. I undertook a course on multimedia editing software to roll out the training - but it’s snowballed from there! Now I communicate almost all financial policies and procedures, training and general communications using videos. I love this creative aspect to my role.'
United in a common goal
While Cass doesn’t work directly with students, it’s clear that she’s passionate about supporting student outcomes. She says this goal is shared universally by staff across campus.
'We’re so lucky everyone is genuinely passionate about our students. USQ’s core focus is delivering the best student outcomes possible. I love this shared vision. We all have a role to play in delivering education. I support staff who support students, and it makes me proud to assist my colleagues quickly and efficiently. I feel really connected to my role and USQ’s mission.'
We asked Cass what’s on the cards for the next few years. True to her character, she leaves it open.
'I don’t make plans. Opportunities come up and I say ‘Yes.’ I love gardening. Who knows, a position may come up in the Maintenance team one day. Work should be fun! And right now, I love what I do.'