International Women's Day is on March 8, and this year we are celebrating with a campaign to put some remarkable women we partner with in the spotlight.
We speak to Natalie from Todae Solar and Jessica from Mentor (She:) on working in male dominated industries and advice for owning your career.
What would say is your key career achievement to date?
Natalie: Being the youngest person and first woman to join the leadership team in my company, Todae Solar after being promoted to Head of Engineering.
Jessica: I have many, but one that would stand out is getting an MBA, whilst working full time and parenting.
Also, would like to recognise my achievements in gender diversity for the technology industry as a board member for VIC ICT for Women.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Natalie: It’s embarrassing that International Women’s Day is still required. After six decades of feminism, some people are still discovering the issue of gender inequality.
International Women’s Day for me is about making gender equality everyone’s business, because it affects everyone.
Jessica: To me IWD is an opportunity to reflect on some of the remarkable women before us who fought for equality across all industries and policy. Further, it’s also a day to raise awareness of the current challenges we still face as a nation eg: pay equity gap, gender biases, leadership equality etc. It’s a time to come together to discuss and identify what we can do to continue to reach equality.
What challenges have you faced in your career?
Natalie: Self-imposed challenges have always been the most daunting. I have struggled with imposter syndrome in every role I’ve been in, from working as a construction manager in a port in Benin to being the youngest and only female in the room at most meetings in the Australian solar industry.
Jessica: I work in the IT industry, which is a heavily male dominated environment, and with this comes many challenges. Such as, not being equally recognised for my skills and experience that I bring as an equal individual.
If you were speaking with your younger self, what advice would you give her to thrive in the workplace?
Natalie: Trust your gut – you’re usually right.
Jessica: Go with your gut instinct, speak up and don’t ever doubt yourself.
What’s the best advice another woman has given you?
Natalie: When I was younger, I was terrified of fire. A great aunt of mine once asked me to light some candles and I said I couldn’t – that I was afraid and had never lit a match. She nonchalantly said “Oh, is this going to be your first time?”
So, I lit all the candles and got over it. I think back to that moment every time I need to do something I perceive as terrifying - I just jump in, give it my all and until now I have always survived.
Jessica: Follow your dreams and aspirations, be unstoppable and never give up. Find a good support group and lean on them when you need it.
What would you say are your top three tips to achieving what you want for your career?
- Know yourself (your values, your worth and your goals)
- Do not be afraid to speak your mind
- Seek to always add value
- Be clear on what you want to achieve and why? Use the SMART technique
- Once your clear, take proactive steps to get there and find others who have taken a similar path who have been successful and connect with them – what are the steps they took?
- Get a mentor who can help you along the way
Natalie is Head of Engineering at Todae Solar.
Jessica is Intelligent Cloud and Infrastructure Consulting – Service and Experience Management, Accenture Australia