World Capabilities



How did 1 idea and 3 women become a multi-award-winning company that’s been called “Google without the hammocks”?

It’s 2011 in a small country town and Sophia Symeou, Roslyn Mitchell and Gwen Durham sit in front of a large piece of butchers’ paper and map out their vision for a new type of organisation. A value’s driven workplace that is not motivated by KPI’s, but rather ‘achieving a greater good’. Their goal is simple to create workforces of the future and be a formidable force for good.

INS — In No one’s Shadow — was born.

INS is a company that has scaled up and down multiple times, never set a KPI, won multiple awards for excellence and has been called by the media “Google without the hammocks” and “is the best place to work in Australia?”. So how did they get there?

World Capabilities

INS is a company that has scaled up and down multiple times, never set a KPI, won multiple awards for excellence and has been called by the media “Google without the hammocks” and “is the best place to work in Australia?”. So how did they get there?

Armed with their vision, Sophia Symeou, Roslyn Mitchell and Gwen Durham decided to start making a difference by working with the NSW Public Sector to better manage restructures, specifically, staff that fell out of these restructures and were declared excess to organisational requirements.

The trio developed a novel, multi-disciplinary offsite career transition model that used innovative career transition practice and integrated government policy and legislation.

INS created an eco-system of support that reflected the different stages of the career transition cycle. The model commenced with a client facing HR team dedicated to the HR and IR needs of individuals and client organisations; A Facilitation team that provided the fundamental job search skills for career transition and were expert at managing individuals in the initial stages of career transition; A Vacancy team that managed and generated placements, work trials and work experience; Career Transition Managers that supported individuals to create and implement a transition plan; A Coaching team that supported individuals on a day to day basis to develop personally, as well as apply for new roles; Internal HR that looked after the INS people management needs; and a Support Services team that provided the beating heart of the organisation and ensured that the needs of clients and staff alike, were seamlessly met.

Having the right staff was fundamental to their vision and Sophia, Roslyn and Gwen recruited their first employees by having capability conversations rather than formal interviews. They looked beyond traditional skill sets, hiring for attitude, personal motivators and values. Qualifications and depth of experience were irrelevant if the applicant wasn’t a values-driven individual, motivated to positively impacting clients and colleagues. An attitude that INS swears by 10 years later.

This was hardly conventional thinking in 2011 and the trio faced criticism for their innovative recruitment techniques. Sticking to their vision, recruitment entailed multiple conversations and work appropriate assessments. References weren’t a ‘tick and flick’, rather an opportunity to gain a holistic view of potential candidates.

An amazing inaugural team was brought together. Symone Catalano, Kellie Grant, Kylie Coleman, Geoff Mathews, Tom Mitchell, Sandra Walden Person, Lisa Rosenthal, Narelle Milligan, Mandy Whittle, Samantha Dhillon and Jay Lee – who not only shared the founders’ vision, but actively shaped it.

Shortly after opening their doors on 10 October 2011, INS was contracted by Transport for NSW to provide career transition services for excess employees across their 7 transport agencies following a number of large-scale restructures.

The INS brand quickly became synonymous with highly effective career transition as it allowed employers to move forward with their strategic goals knowing that their staff were being assisted to walk into their future with dignity and self-respect.

The INS career transition model boasts some enviable stats. Between 2011 and 2018 INS undertook evaluations of all individuals participating in their redeployment programs including a 6-month post exit interview.  The results show 97% of individuals were highly satisfied with the service; Between 74-84% of all individuals with a retention period and participating in the INS Redeployment program, were redeployed within a 3-month period; Of those individuals who opted for voluntary redundancy, 94% remained satisfied with their decision 6-months later; and 87% of those seeking alternate employment were employed in new roles.

World Capabilities

Today the stats are just as impressive with our placement success rates hovering between 83% – 98%.

As the client numbers grew, so did the staff and the number of floors required at INS’s first home in No 5 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. The founding team took the reins and led expanded teams.

The client facing HR team led initially by Kylie Coleman, included Kellie Grant (who later became the INS HR Director), Tayseer Adra, Stephanie Fowler, Linda Potter and Elissa So.

World Capabilities

The team of Case Managers expanded with highly experienced case managers including: Laura Fisher (now our Coaching Manager extraordinaire), Mandy Whittle (inaugural team member, innovator and creative thinker who contributed in a manifold of ways in multiple roles) Judy Raft, Jo Hill, Evett Freeling, Elizabeth Fletcher (who later became our highly knowledgeable, Principal Consultant), Jo Sturdy, Denise Marshall, Kate Gemmell, Khalida Malik, Sanjay Chand, Jeanette Davies, Michelle Hamberger and Joergette Maee Medel. The Redeployment Manager, Anne al Kafajii supported the team with professional and personal development reflecting the organisation’s mission to actively develop and grow staff through on-going learning and development.

The Facilitation and Coaching teams led by pioneering Sandra Walden Pearson and Laura Fisher (now our principle consultant & qualified organisational coach) respectively, also grew to include Adam Szudrich (now our amazing L&D Manager), Mary Jamieson (who applied her considerable skill to multiple roles throughout her time with INS), Imogen Wareing,  Jenny Khan, Susan Germaine, Colleen Sullivan, Aileen Hookins, Anne Fernandez, Jane FitzGerald, Clare Hattersley, Philip John (who contributed with aplomb in multiple roles to the INS success), Melanie Shad, Morag Morrish (who also managed the INS Wellbeing Program long after she left INS), Ursula Bronicki, Natsi Mutema (who later led a team of Assessors), Chris Mills, Matthew Appasamy (another INS leading light that worked in multiple roles), and Leda Decanalis.

The Vacancy Team managed by Tom Mitchell gained the respect of the NSW public sector by their extensive knowledge of policy and legislation, educating recruitment and HR staff and increasing placement opportunities for those we worked with. This highly effective team included Charlotte Chaplin and Xavier Nugent.

Over the 10 years, support services has been ably undertaken by a variety of amazing staff led by the indomitable Symone Catalano, including: Stavroula Dassios, Christin Platzek, Carren Dema-ala, Tamara Smith, Hellen Dunn, Rose Lopino, Victoria Formosa, Vivi Wododo, Jodie Solomon, Mary Burton, Emma Nicholson, Cassidy Macleod, Chantelle George, Madison Whitla, Samantha Ellis and Jesse John. In fact, since its inception INS Support Staff have been the unsung heroes, providing the warm, people focused front of house and capable, skilled back of house, support to every aspect of the organisation.

Operationally, from day 1, INS has had the same focus on our internal HR needs as we applied to our client’s HR needs, developing innovative HR and Flexible Work Policies and a learning culture that supported an active performance development and feedback cycle. Our initial HR Manager Samantha Dhillon set the pace, which was refined as we grew by Alison McMillan, Kellie Grant, inaugural staff member who became our HR Director, and Meagan Allan.

Our sophisticated Job Matching software and growing ICT needs have been supported by a number of individuals since inception, including Bill Altman, Raid Almousawi, Neil Ahua, Dion James and our amazing ICT Manager, Leo Zhang, who’s analytical and problem-solving skills enabled the critical continuity of service and staff to work operationally across numerous locations.

In 2015 Sophia took on the mantle of sole Director for INS and bid farewell to Gwen and Roslyn.

From 2016 and 2018, INS was engaged to develop and implement a world first Mobility Pathway for the NSW public sector. The goal of the project was to maximise the number of skilled employees retained in the NSW state public sector and minimise redundancies following the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and changes to the workforce for the Department of Family and Community Services.

World Capabilities

Overseeing the entire Mobility Pathway Project were Co-Directors Mobility, Maria Frangeskou and Tom Mitchell. They worked extensively with numerous stakeholders including NSW Premier’s Department, Treasury, Family and Community Services and the Public Service Commission, to maintain a collective focus in a dynamic environment. Maria and Tom benefitted from the professional support of Merched Gebara, Scheduling Officer and Blake Murphy, Mobility Officer who managed the complicated task of scheduling hundreds of appointments and working collaboratively with numerous government agencies to schedule job interviews and training.

World Capabilities

The Mobility Project established 3 new INS teams: Assessment, Career Placement and Facilitation.

Our dedicated Assessment Centre was managed by Laura Fisher. Laura’s outstanding team included Natsai Mutema, Karla Cooper, Giselle Gavagna, Mary Jamieson, Jayd Tucker, Lauren Swersky, Carolyn McDonnel and Pratiksha Bhatt.

This creative and highly skilled team created 104 work-based capability assessments and assessed over 400 clients, developing detailed reports on individuals’ level of capability for assigned roles mapped against the NSW Capability Framework.

World Capabilities

Work-based assessments are tailored to specifically assess an individual’s capability to undertake the key components of a role from day 1, to the level required by the role.

Using the NSW Capability Framework, formalised assessment methodologies (reviewed and certified by an external assessment organisation) were developed. In line with the INS approach to build capability and dignity in all that it does, a unique assessment process was built to put candidates at ease (to the degree possible) and therefore get the best and most realistic indicator of capability.

With support from Adam Szudrich, L&D Manager, Team Leader Sherryn McCarthy (who had a passion for growth that she applied to multiple INS roles) coached and mentored the high performing and passionate Facilitation team including Jessica Hickman, Lynne Elgood , Christopher Root and Phillip John. The team ran hundreds of workshops across NSW for a diverse and sometimes challenging client base, and were the first point of contact for staff grappling with major changes to their employment.

Each Public Sector employee who entered the Mobility Pathway was assigned their own Career Placement Officer (CPO). The multi-talented CPO team was managed by Liz Bertoncelj with the assistance of wonderful Senior CPOs Maggie Sherriff and Deborah Howarth. 

World Capabilities

Drawing upon a depth of experience and collaboration, the team broke new ground and delivered unprecedented results in the most complex of environments. Our talented CPOs included Matthew Appassamy, Mandy Whittle, Sarah Browett, Melissa Ashley, Michael Dwyer, Virginia Dwyer, Susanne Kaye, Adam Terides, Esther Abel, and Emma Torodvic.

Our success with the Mobility Project would not have been possible without the tireless work from Support Services Manager Symone Catalano and her team.  Symone’s drive, commitment and organisational expertise ensured the complex logistics of assisting hundreds of clients was always proactive and customer centric.

Through INS’s collaborative approach the organisation assisted the NSW public sector to broaden the use of the Capability Framework and support and identify transferable capabilities to create a professional and mobile public sector. As a result, 373 staff were placed in new roles with 80% of all employees matched by INS successfully securing a public sector role.

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World Capabilities
World Capabilities

The design and implementation of the cutting-edge training program resulted in INS being finalists at the 2018 National Australian Learning Impact Awards for “Learning Provider of the  Year”, “Learning Impact Program of the Year” and the “Innovation Learning Award”. INS was further recognised by the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) who nominated Adam Szudrich, L&D Manager, as one of 2 national finalists for “2018 Learning and Development Professional of the Year”.

Placements were made to 28 agencies, across every cluster in the NSW public sector. Using the Mobility Pathway process, INS greatly reduced the average time to hire in the NSW Public Sector from 45.7 to 27 days (NSW State of the Sector 2017 Report). Take a closer look at the outcomes of this project through our Mobility Case Study.

World Capabilities

In 2017, CEO Sophia Symeou announced to staff that she wanted to support parents within the organisation by providing free services to care for children. In Sydney, nanny Monique Smith ran the onsite nanny service caring for the children of Adam Szudrich, Laura Fisher, Kellie Grant and Helen Wallace. Childcare educator Monique Smith provided the nanny service for over 2 years, supported by nanny Yasmin Sirin, enabling parents to transition back to work.

In addition to our delivery and operational teams INS has had the fabulous support of dedicated Business Development and Marketing teams who have assisted INS to grow and to instigate the systems and processes to support that growth.

Seamus also introduced our risk management and business continuity policies which served us well in crises such as the Lindt Café Siege. Jenny upped the anti, creating links between our business development, marketing, and delivery teams; a HR Forum to discuss critical topics such as workforce flexibility and mature workforces; and spearheading our Work Forces for the Future Program.

Over the 10 years, Executive Officers Seamus Mallon and Jenny Ghobrial respectively, worked closely with our CEO to bring in innovating programs in line with our values and approach. Seamus introduced the INS Well-Being program in 2014, well before it became ‘a thing’, providing staff free personal training, yoga, and a ‘Health and Well-being’ newsletter – a practice INS continues.

INS has had the privilege of working with many consultants over the 10 years including Gail Gregory who was our Principal Consultant and contributed to an array of complex and successful projects; Kathleen Caden, Margie Powell, Anna Spyropoulos and Ian Peters who remains a source of guidance and knowledge.

From day 1, INS has had the backing and expertise of Jim Vass ATB Chartered Accountants and his extremely capable team. Jim has been INS CFO from inception of INS guiding us through every up and down.

Business Development and Marketing were overseen by David White who introduced a great deal of professionalism to INS marketing, business development and client outreach. INS had the benefit of Nicola Vass who was a whiz at so many things including social media, writing content and design.

Business Development is tricky for many small businesses and INS has been fortunate with staff such as Kieran Baron Levi who coordinated our tender processes, developed new subscription models and explored collaborations with other training providers. Peter Oborn and Matt Conoulty brought another level of expertise to INS, forging important collaborations with Local Government NSW and Changing Gears.

World Capabilities

In 2018 INS became the strategic partner for Local Government NSW in the rollout and education of their newly develop Local Government Capability Framework. LGNSW developed the first Capability Framework to include elected members as well as staff with a mandate to increase the professionalism and workforce management practices for the sector. INS educates the local government sector in the Capability Framework and supports councils to implement or adapt the framework into their workforce practices. To date, INS has successfully designed and delivered capability framework support and training to over 60 Councils.

INS has become a leader in designing and implementing capability frameworks. As an organisation with deep expertise in all things related to the career life cycle, we analysed the quantitative and qualitative data of thousands of our diverse clients and combined these findings with research from a range of reputable sources*.

The results told us it wasn’t the technical skills or years of experience that influenced success in responding and adapting to change or transitioning to new areas of work. It was in fact the personal attributes and approaches they employed to identify and leverage transferable skills.

Driven by Sophia Symeou’s vision of the accelerating change in workforces, INS extensively researched and developed World Capabilities©. World Capabilities© are the attributes and approaches that organisations and individuals need to adapt for the jobs of today and of tomorrow. Passionate in creating workforces for the future, Sophia launched World Capabilities© & the INS World Capabilities Self-Assessment Tool© at The American Chamber of Commerce. INS is very excited to be launching Sophia’s World Capabilities© book in February 2022.

INS set out to operate in no one’s shadow and be a formidable force for good.

We have received public recognition for our culture, programs and approach winning or being finalists for 12 National Awards over the last 10 years.

In line with our n In line with our stated goals on establishing INS, over the past 10 years INS has contributed over $250,000 to charity and community through direct donation and probono works. We believe that business has an obligation to contribute to, and be an active part of, community. Through our work with SingularityU Australia we are seeking to broaden our influence to positively impact the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and in particular SDG1: No Poverty; SDG4: Quality Education; SDG5: Gender Equality; SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth; and SDG9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

World Capabilities

Throughout it all Sophia has had the unending support of my family, in particular her life partner Maria Kavallaris who is friend, mentor, and advocate all rolled into one.

I look forward to continuing our journey and are excited to see what the next 10 years hold. Whatever the future brings, INS will continue to create workforces for the future, and positively impact lives as it achieves a greater good.

If you’d like to learn more about INS or how we can support you as an organisation or individual please reach out to us on 1800 467 000 or