Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a strategy and portfolio management professional currently acting as a Planner and Business Development Strategist for a major water corporation helping to power their customer-centric transformation. I’m at my best when connecting people and ideas to create value and specialise in keeping enterprises sustainable.
My experience as a migrant and working mother in Australia, led me to establish a new social enterprise called Acude. We promote intercultural communication and address social isolation issues in Australia. This enterprise creates new perspectives in local children, connecting them with disadvantaged communities, locally and abroad. In 2020, we will start offering vibrant school holiday programs as immersion projects to cultivate empathy towards other cultures. Acude’s innovative approach to connect Latin Americans and Australians was recognised through our recent win of the UQ Global Engagement Latin American Colloquium competition.
Who are the women who have inspired you most in your life?
The women in my family are all driven education professionals and devoted mothers who have always been part of community education programs and sought to bring joy to everyone around them. They have shaped my collaborative leadership style and the focus of my social enterprise. However, my daughter is the biggest inspiration for my work and she fuels my passion to raise resilient, globally-aware leaders.
Are there any other female leaders you look up to?
I’m inspired by female leaders making a difference in the world, like Brené Brown, for daring to share her research and personal journey on vulnerability and belonging. She calls to guard educational spaces that allow learners to breathe, be curious, and explore. Michelle Obama is also inspiring others to embrace their own voices, as well as Jacinda Arden for demonstrating the power of being a strong and kind leader.
Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?
The diverse perspectives of female leaders has proven to bring success and sustainability to organisations. We face an unprecedented rate of change in the world and won’t be able to address these complex issues in isolation. More than ever before, we need to work together and accept other disciplines and diverse ways of thinking. I believe the empathy and collaborative leadership traits females bring needs to be embraced and nurtured in business to help deal with an uncertain future.
What do you think are barriers for women in the recruitment process?
Our educational system and community standards place great value on the female tendency to follow structured pathways and rules. In a professional context this is evident in female preference for certain career choices. Unfortunately, this leaves women with less experience in spontaneous paths for professional growth that men navigate through with ease. Men tend to be more adept at vocalising their experience and assertive about using transferable skills for roles they may not have experience in. This is a barrier women need to overcome in order to take on new roles, negotiate conditions and forge career pathways more successfully.
What do you think contributes to the lack of females taking the plunge in entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is associated with a self-confident and competitive nature that some women don’t feel comfortable with. Overall, women are incredibly generous with their time and dedicated to causes they care about, which often unfortunately tends to be in lower remuneration roles. I believe a stronger emphasis on social entrepreneurship would see more females getting involved in taking on their own businesses. Equipping women to lead the resolution of social issues will help females and communities be better off.
Also, women need to see more role models of how to achieve this as well as live by their own example. Highly entrepreneurial communities around the world are characterised by a normalisation of failure and continuous conversation about entrepreneurship. Spaces like #WeLead are incredibly important to give visibility of achievements, challenges and pathways.
What more can be done to support women in male-dominated industries?
Government could add value by supporting other industry sectors that enhance and impact society. An example of this is New Zealand’s shift to measure economic success by human well-being instead of GDP growth.
In collaboration, governments can develop female accelerator programs that not only provide guidance or loans, but also fund cross-sector leadership mentoring. They could measure and promote high-quality flexible arrangements, for men and women. The private sector could also strengthen programs to support career paths for women, and increase men championing of female leadership roles.
The educational system is where real transformation of leadership can begin. It is in our formative years that assertiveness and comfort with imperfection and uncertainty should be emphasised. Universities and companies can work together to raise the profile of strong female leaders at an early age and encourage men into women-concentrated industry sectors and vice versa.