Commercial Manager, Technology
Strategic Procurement, Enterprise Services - AGL
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?
I have had many challenges throughout my career as a woman in business, but to highlight a few; I have been sexually harassed in the workplace, physically threatened by a male direct report that were being performance managed and discouraged by other women in business that seemed to be worried about maintaining their own position, as though there is only room enough for a certain number of strong and capable women. When dealing with these situations I have been hesitant and even embarrassed to seek advice and support as I have felt as though it is a reflection on my own capability as a leader and an individual. It has taken a number of years and numerous mentors and coaches to break out of this mindset, to realise that asking for help is one of the most courageous things that you can do when faced with adversity.
Who has inspired you (male or female)?
Two leaders that have inspired me are Lucy Bloom and Llew Fleming. Lucy is an accomplished business leader and author and has a breadth of experience that she has developed through ‘chasing squirrels’. She is relatable, challenges the status quo and leverages her unique skills to make the world a better place whilst inspiring others to do the same. Llew, General Manager Enterprise Services at AGL was the first leader that I have worked for that started the conversation from a point of vulnerability. She talked of her own challenges and weaknesses and encouraged feedback and continually seeks others perspectives to challenge her own thinking.
What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?
Do what you love, and remain selfishly committed to your integrity, goals and vision, and trust that you will find the right path simply by doing the things that make your heart sing. Stay curious; surround yourself with people that have different opinions, strengths, experiences and styles of working, but who are committed to sharing knowledge, as the second you think you understand, you stop learning and growing. Travel and experience as much as you can, immerse yourself in cultures that challenge your beliefs and values, as it broadens your mind, gives you life experience and expands your perspective of what is really important.
What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?
Vulnerability, generosity, resolve, long-term mindset and collaboration. Take comfort that you don’t know all the answers, be generous with the sharing the knowledge that you have, have the resolve to push through situations of inequity and inequality to make a difference for those that follow and work toward building a network/tribe of strong women to continue to challenge in moments when you need to take a backseat and recharge.
Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?
A quote that resonates with me is from Sheryl Sandberg, ‘we stand on the shoulders of the women that came before us, women who had to fight for the rights that we now take for granted.’ It reminds me that I need to continue to build on the hard work of the women that have come before me, to continue to challenge inequity and to encourage others to do the same. A second quote that has made a huge difference to me, is from Amy Cuddy who says, ‘don’t fake it until you make it, fake it until you become it. Do it enough until you actually become it and internalise.’
What do you #ChooseToChallenge?
I choose to challenge my own thinking to do things that makes me uncomfortable, stretches my capability and my thinking. An example is taking part in this CIPS International Women’s Day event. When asked to respond to questions, I felt an amazing sense of pride, but also questioned if I was really the right person to be included; surely there are other women that are more qualified to be part of the IWD celebrations. When faced with this situation, I had to take a moment to acknowledge my response, but then took another moment to reflect on advice that I once received from a strong female leader who had nominated me for an award that I didn’t think I deserved. Her comment was this, whilst you believe that you don’t deserve this and you don’t want the attention, I think you do. But don’t do it for you, you have to remember that it isn’t just about you. It is also for all the other women watching that you are inspiring that now realise that it is possible.