For this edition, we sent James to interview the delightful Jane Sydenham-Clarke, the first female CEO of Freemasons Victoria.


1.Tell us your story … 

Hi, I’m Jane Sydenham-Clarke, and I’m the CEO of Freemasons Victoria. I was the last of four children to my hard-working parents, with my father encouraging my mother to have a son, but sadly that wasn’t to be. But as luck would have it, my father was a Freemason and was a hero to me. I would observe him go off to lodge and I always assumed he was doing wonderful things. If I had of been his son I could have been a member of Freemasons Victoria, but instead I’m now in this role as the first woman CEO and fortunately I’m still able to see the really wonderful things we are doing here.

2The Interpreters spend a lot of time trying to understand our clients’ customers and segments within the market. How well do you know Freemasons Victoria members?

I think I know them better than they know themselves! But more importantly, thanks to recent research, we now know more about our potential members and their needs as well. Freemasons Victoria are really driving towards meeting the needs of ‘Today’s Man’ in society and this has really become the central part of the way forward for us.

3. We do a lot of problem solving at The Interpreters so we’re interested in how other people solve problems. How do you approach problem solving?

I try to walk in the shoes of the other and to understand what’s going on from another perspective. I try to think about where there is a win/win situation. In my previous role at Federation Square, I would deal with multiple stakeholders all of whom had opposed sets of needs and requirements. Sitting down and getting to really understand what’s happening at a deeper level – what’s driving the key points – that enables a respectful and mutually advantageous place to be found.

4. Interpretation is subjective but a key part of our analysis. We’re always interested in the ways other people might interpret key trends or things of interest from their specialism. How do you interpret the rise of Donald Trump?

I think it’s symbolic of a sense of dissatisfaction in leadership and the direction of the world. There was a sense of distrust and disillusionment of the leadership of the US, and its resulted in a reaction to try and find another solution. When you wrap that up with this trend of conservativism and the fear of what the future might hold, people search for a charismatic leader who appears to have some answers. It’s actually quite disillusioning though, when you look at Donald Trump you see that the brand is one thing but the reality is another thing. Who knows whether he’s going to be impeached or continue to run, but you can see the same is happening in the UK and the same here as well.

5. Because we firmly believe that Information is Beautiful, we would like to give you a copy of Information is Beautiful, ‘a stunning visual journey through the most revealing trends, fascinating facts and vital statistics of the modern world’. Because first impressions matter, have a scan through and tell us which visualisation caught your attention and why?

I’m fascinated in the way the data is represented, and I especially love the bubbles and the way that you can understand it in a snapshot because the data is interpreted in such a visually accessible and digestible way. Not only that but it’s aesthetically pleasing, you are just so drawn into the image and want to learn more about it.  It’s much more compelling than numbers on a screen. Given that this one is about religion is especially interesting as it relates what we were just talking about. We’re currently seeing a turn away from institutionalised religion, people are becoming disillusioned, but it’s such a transparent world that we live in that organisations can’t hide behind institutional secrecy – you are exposed and accountable. I think that’s very symbolic of what we are trying to take onboard here at Freemasons Victoria – we want to stand for something and represent strong values.

Jane Image