Meet Desley Cowley | Contributor in the Spotlight


Meet Desley Cowley | Contributor in the Spotlight

Desley Cowley is a community solutions strategist who helps commercial and not for profit communities work better together.

She holds a Queensland Real Estate Agents’ license, has managed shopping centres since 1988 and has developed an innovative national, postcode searchable online retail talent directory, Spruiker Hire.

She works/has worked with successful not for profit and for profit communities in Queensland, NSW and the NT and is currently working with Dreamtime Cultural Centre in Rockhampton on The Dreamtime 30 Year Anniversary Project.

CLICK HERE to read Desley’s Smallville articles.

Desley, who is your business idol and why?

John and Judy Wong who own FantAsia. I have known them from their humble beginnings when they owned The Happy Buddha Restaurant in Rockhampton Shopping Fair, where I worked as Marketing Manager in Centre Management. They, with their adult children Chris and Jade have built the FantAsia business to 9 or 10 stores around Brisbane. They have faced and will continue to face many personal and professional challenges along the path to success and are always a positive and inspiring motivator for me whenever I feel like the world is plotting against me.

What was the last book you read without skipping through anything?

Thick Face Black Heart by Chin Ning Chu and all of her books. She is the only author I have discovered who’s second and subsequent books were as valuable and inspiring as the first.

If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?

The Mayor of Rockhampton because I believe that even in one day I could make a positive and lasting contribution to my community in ways that would have far reaching impact beyond this region.

What is something you’ve always wanted to try but have been too scared to?

Running for either local, state or federal politics. My challenge has been a) deciding where I could make the biggest contribution and b) which party to attach myself to. I struggle with the negative impact of ‘the politics of politics’ on community.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’m proud of my family, my career achievements in shopping centre management, the projects I’ve been involved in working with Indigenous groups, the development of my online talent directory and my work in community.

I am proud of my ability to voice my opinion and concerns in a (mostly) rational and objective manner and be vocal about issues that concern me even when I know there will be strong opposition.

Where is your favourite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?


What drives you to do what you do? What motivates you?

This question has been troubling me of late. I have to say my motivation has always been a sense of ‘obligation’ to use my brain for the greater good. I think this sometimes skews my objectivity and passion, which is what I have been ‘navel gazing’ about.

I still want to use my brain for the greater good, but how do I clear that thought from my head long enough to analyse an opportunity or challenge without feeling compelled to do it for no other reason than ‘the greater good’? There may be something more valuable I could be doing with my time for that purpose that I’m being sidetracked from because of the mindset.

Is there a documentary/book/event that really changed the way you thought about something?

Thick Face Black Heart by Chin Ning Chu, I need to read it again.

What’s your favourite cheesy pick-up line? Have you ever used it for real?

I’ve been with the man I’m married to since I was 16, I’m now 61, however I can still remember the day we met. We were both working at a roadhouse half way between Rocky and Mackay and lived on site. It was Lyle’s first day. I had a habit of opening the door from the residence to the roadhouse kitchen in my see through nightie (hey I was 16) to say good morning to the staff on duty at the time. This was my first interaction with Lyle. My words ‘Good morning….(see him)…oops’ , fast retreat back to the residence. Not sure if it was the pick up line or the see through nightie that clinched the deal.

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?

Red. I like to stand out in the crowd, or more to the point, I accept that whether or not I like to, for better or for worse, I do anyway, so might as well embrace it.

What’s your favourite ’90s jam?

No clue.

If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?

Delete the bad ones first and then cull by sender and topic.

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