Where are you in your career and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m working in the Insurance Industry on a series of projects designed to improve our customer outcomes and experiences.
I’ve spent the last 15 years in financial and professional services, having worked for a few years as a solicitor prior to this.
I was first influenced to become involved in mentoring when working as a solicitor in Bankstown. I did some legal aid work as the solicitor on duty for women in situations of domestic violence. It was heart breaking to see some of the young women who came in. They were in seriously damaging relationships, where they’d married or partnered early, barely out of school, with no money, few employable skills and young kids. Their options were so limited, and it was really hard for them to extract themselves from these violent relationships because they had so few alternatives.
I remember wishing that I could have taken these girls aside when they were 14 or 15, and told them they didn’t have to make the same decisions people around them were making. That there was another way to live. Life Changing Experiences Foundation has helped me to do this, since we work with young girls who are in situations where they might not see another way to live.
What have been some challenges in your industry?
There are still parts of my industry that are considered a “boys club”. There are some challenges with work/life balance and the challenges of juggling a young family and wanting a career.
Have you had any experience with mentoring women or being mentored by women? What was that experience like for you? How did you feel that it benefited you?
I’m a big fan of an organisation called Financial Executive Women. That group pairs women in financial services with Advocates, other successful females in the industry, who can support, guide and mentor them in their careers.
A few years ago, I was having a difficult time at work, and trying to decide whether to stay with, or leave, my current organisation. I met my first Advocate, Melinda. She was hugely helpful! She was outside my direct professional environment so she had good perspectives, great advice and was able to reflect on her own similar experiences to guide me with empathy because she’d “been there before”. I can honestly say that it made a huge difference to the way that I approached my work challenges, and I’ve been lucky enough to remain in regular contact with Melinda since.
How important do you think it is for women to mentor girls?
For me, women mentoring girls is really important. Growing up isn’t easy, and the world can be a difficult place to navigate. Having someone who can be there for you in a non-judgemental way and who can provide support and guidance can make a huge difference to how someone experiences their teenage years. Giving a teenage girl someone who will simply be there and listen to their problems, challenges and thoughts can be a huge relief in a world where kids often feel alone, isolated and lacking in validation.
How important do you think it is to have a strong female role model in your life?
I consider it to be hugely important to have a strong female role model in your life. I’m very fortunate in that I have had amazing women to look up to all my life. From my mother, grandmother and aunts, right through to some inspirational teachers and family friends.
Growing up surrounded by amazing, successful, resourceful, kind and generous women, I’ve always had a good belief in myself and what I could do. That has helped me become resilient in my career when things haven’t gone my way. Its let me focus on the situation and what I could have done better, instead of allowing failure to impact my sense of self-worth.
I’ve had many professional role models too, and they’ve served a slightly different purpose. I look at a number of successful women in my industry, and it’s like someone has switched the lights on that line the path ahead of me. Observing women being successful in positions of power and influence makes it seem a much more tangible, achievable thing for me too. And when those women become mentors, sharing their experience with people who are following them, then it creates more visible women with power and influence, inspiring more young women to excel.