The road to leadership for Women in 2019 follows many different paths. For those who have paved the way before us, it’s through sheer belief, perseverance and the power of their allies and tribe. As the diversity and equality discussion continues around the globe, it becomes prevalent that it is still a climb. With continued focus from all areas of the community, business sector and governments, we hope our future generation of women will be true equal partners in business, the home and community.
In recognition that it takes real discussion, authenticity and role models to support behaviours and the “new norm”, we asked some of the amazing Women Leaders in the OnTalent network to share their thoughts around the advice they would give their younger self.
Enjoy the inspiration.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Dr Catherin Bull AM - Emeritus Professor, Adjunct Professor, Non-Executive Director
“Keep working on the balance between your will and your skill. By this, I mean not only having the will to proceed and succeed but also never being afraid to spend time getting better educated and getting new knowledge so that you are ‘skilled up and ready to go’ when new opportunities present themselves. As this is never a direct or predictable path, recognise that new knowledge will be useful for its own sake because it expands your mind and helps you learn to use it better.”
Amanda Pafumi - Bundaberg Regional Council, - General Manager, Organisational Services
“Worry less and hasten slowly. Appointed as an executive leader in my early 30s, I was given a significant portfolio and responsibility at a young age, that coincided with the start of my family. There were many nights where I juggled these competing demands to try and not drop the ball and impress everyone, all at the same time. My advice to my younger self would be to lead more through others, rather than trying to hold on to a leadership role while continuing to be the technical expert on the ground – an untenable position. It took me a long time to realise leadership was my job, and what I was judged on, and the teams I led wanted the autonomy and enablement to deliver on their roles. Once I made this realisation, I became a better leader and I had happier, more empowered employees.”
Peta Irvine – Chief Executive Officer – Local Government Managers Association Queensland
“Self-awareness is one of the greatest skills you can develop and will ease your way throughout your career. Be open to ‘feedback’ and actively seek it where appropriate.”
Belinda Watton - Energy Queensland - Chief Transformation Officer
“I have an 11-year-old daughter who is full of so much hope, potential and determination. For my younger self and Evie, I share the adage ‘Always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think’. The adage goes on to include ‘and twice as beautiful as you’d ever imagined’ which we agree only comes from the inside.”
Laurie Lefcourt - Chief Financial Officer & Non-Executive Director
“Don't let the politics and culture of an organisation change who you are. If that is expected of you, you are not in the right place. Secondly, if it all possible, try to get your career on the path you would like to pursue before starting your family. As sad as it sounds, I have seen a marked difference in the career progression of women who started their families early, and those who were established in their career before having children. Despite all of the progress we have made in gaining equality in leadership roles, I don't think this has changed much. Though no-one will admit to this sort of discrimination, I believe it still exists.”
Kirsty Garrett – Chief Executive Officer - Doctors on Demand
“Be brave, tackle anything that is thrown at you and don’t let anyone treat you with an ounce of disrespect. And I would probably tell my 30-something self to leave work early occasionally and spend some more time with my kids before they grow up!”
Joanne Chin – General Manager – Land and Homes Group
Will, Skill, Tribes, Belief & Winding Roads“Your career path is not one long defined road to your perceived ‘ultimate outcome’ it is a twisting, turning path with stops and starts along the way and no ultimate ending as the ‘perceived’ end goal is always evolving!”
Janelle Mellor - Global HR Manager - Cardno
“Don’t be afraid to try different things, take different paths throughout your career. It is ok to change your mind along the way. I started out in Tax Accounting and ended up in HR and I am glad I made the change, just wished I had taken the leap earlier.”
Leanne Rutherford - General Manager, Children, Youth and Families – Churches of Christ, Qld
“Remain true to yourself, your values and be humble. Never stop learning and never stop asking questions – it is ok to make mistakes as long as you are willing to learn from them and as long as you have been thoughtful and considerate in your decision making. Value diversity and work to people’s strengths – not everyone brings the same qualities to the table and that is a good thing. Be brave, be honest and be willing to challenge the status quo for the right reasons and even when you feel like the lone voice.”
Louise Dudley – Chief Executive Officer - Queensland Urban Utilities
I would tell my younger self to focus more on networking with like-minded people. It’s something I do a lot of now and is a great way to share ideas and knowledge, raise your profile and increase your confidence. If you’re lucky, it may even present some life-changing opportunities.”
Joanne Thornton – Non-Executive Director
“You are going to have an amazing life so don't hold back, just enjoy it! You are good enough!”
Cathy McGuane - Executive Manager – TUH & Chair, Stadiums Queensland
“There is no hurry, be considered about your choices and try not to sweat the small stuff. Respect experience and watch and learn from the best. Try to have a career that spans between private and government sectors this will broaden your horizon and help set solid foundations for your future. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and seize the opportunity."
Jeanette Allom-Hill - Sunshine Coast Regional Council – Group Executive, Business Performance (COO)
“My favourite quote that sums up all my responses, “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much.”-Bessie A. Stanley
1. Identify your strengths and then do what you love (soul work) and you will be good at it.
2. It takes courage to be yourself stay true to who you are, don’t change for anyone and know that who you are is enough.
3. Every time you stumble it will make you wiser and braver, see it as a learning experience
4. Build your tribe early and help make each other great. Be seen to support other women every single day.”
Lisa Davis – Equifax – Chief Operating Officer
“As I think about my career, my advice would be to be more decisive. I have learned with experience that as long as you are directionality correct, you can adapt as you go. Inertia or lack of decisions disables teams and businesses faster than the need to adapt from a position of motion!"
Sarah Zeljko – Non-Executive Director
“Use the tools that are out there like LinkedIn to give you confidence. Look at other people’s CVs – many people achieve much larger and more interesting roles all the time without having to “do the time” or follow the well-trodden path. This will give you the bravery you need.
Do more “water cooler” time. Women work really hard and never leave their desks whilst the men are forming alliances, networking and asking for what they want – you should always work hard but stick your head up more!
Being charming is great but having gravitas is better. Knowing your strengths and how to sell yourself is a skill that should be worked on throughout your career.”
Trina Hockley – Non-Executive Director & Chair
“The first thing that comes to mind is: do not try to be “one of the boys”, you aren’t and you never will be. Accept that you are the minority in that industry but that does not mean you cannot rise to the top. Be true to yourself – respect will follow.
Work the system – I often took a male co-worker to meetings, not that I needed his advice or protection, it actually made the other party (male) more comfortable and would enable a more open conversation so why not – don’t be precious about it.
Don’t be angry about the “boys club”. Create your own group of supporters and likeminded business people – mix it up, don’t insist on it being women only, although there are times that meeting with females only can be inspiring and often exhausting.
Throw down your tresses – if you are at the top of your castle, you must throw down your hair so others can climb up to be with you. Do not raise the draw bridge, that is like saying I made it and you can’t come too! There are far too many raising their bridge, there is so much more reward to assisting others – try it.
Lastly – enjoy. So much has changed and so much more is changing, enjoy the ride, it is exciting and daunting and encourage and embrace other female entrepreneurs, tradies, academics…and the list goes on. You’ve got this.”
Kylie Sprott - Executive | Director
“Accept that you will make mistakes, but remember to always learn from them! Remember to enjoy every minute and embrace every opportunity.”
Shirley Robertson - Senior Advisor (Asset Management) – QIC
“To take more risks and to realise that you have a voice that needs to be heard. Not to have any regrets for what could have been but to be thankful for what is and the lessons your current situation provides so you are ready to go where you need to be next and when you get there to realise that the journey has just begun all over again.”
Fiona Maxwell - Chief Executive Officer - Brisbane Powerhouse
“Be vulnerable with those you trust – you don’t always need to know all the answers.”
Jen Dalitz – Chief Executive Officer – WIBF – Women in Banking & Finance
“Back yourself. You can never over prepare or over-invest in your career development."
Nicky Lonergan - Chief Executive Officer – Archers
“Never doubt that you can define your own success. I have never followed a traditional professional career path, changing professions from hospitality to accounting in my late 20’s. Entering this commercial new world with a sea of black suits, predominately worn by men, was daunting. Success was driven equally by intelligence and who you knew and as I knew nobody it was a steep learning curve. Having a strong sense of self, confidence, keeping my own counsel, commitment and consistency ensured success was achievable over time.”