In October of 2015 I was invited to a conference in Toronto, Canada, to speak about my work in Aboriginal communities here in Australia. My experiences revealed something ordinary yet often overlooked: in order to bring about real progress, close collaboration and mutual respect aren’t just important, they’re non negotiable. As I sat there listening to the United Nations goals for humanity that year, it occurred to me that the same principles applied to another UN global issue: gender parity for women.
As a woman who rose through corporate environments composed mostly of men, I know that there is a strong need for continuing support in the workplace to ensure female employees remain engaged and confident, especially when there are few women in a particular industry or the nature of the work is predominantly male. Furthermore, to retain the best and most innovative employees, a corporate culture where many viewpoints and leadership styles are welcomed is a must.
The challenge is this: how to create a work environment where all employees feel they have a voice and can make a difference, regardless of gender. As we move forward into a world where more and more women are functioning in leadership roles, there is an ever pressing need to recognize the diverse ways in which influence can occur within corporations and to make certain that all genres of talent are efficiently utilized.
Energized and inspired, I returned to Australia and set to work.
Gender parity is a two way street. An educated, competent woman can step into a role and do her best, but the second part of the equation is an equally committed work place that makes time to ensure that employees feel able to function at their highest ability.
“I feel supported by John Holland.” --John Holland Employee who participated in the Women of Worth program
John Holland is an excellent example of an incredibly masculine industry with an impressive 27% female representation in leadership roles. What’s more, they make an effort to make sure that their 27% have access to the management tools they need to make great things happen.
It has been my absolute pleasure to work alongside John Holland’s female leadership via Women of Worth, encouraging employees in seminars and personal coaching to foster greater trust, respect and appreciation for their natural and collective talents. The culmination of this experience is the celebration of International Women’s Day 2018 in partnership with John Holland!
Defining what my values are, my brand and what type of leader I am. -- John Holland employee after one year of Women of Worth.
Thank you, Annalise, for being a woman who lifts up and supports women across the globe-- my life is better for having you in it! Here's to a trail blazing year for women in 2018! -- Wendy Atkinson, collaborator with Women of Worth
My wish for women going forward? That we see the day that we no longer have to have conversations about gender parity in the workforce because it simply exists. Until that day arrives, it’s my mission to encourage women to step into leadership roles with confidence and to help companies cultivate work environments that attract and retain the very best employees.
Would you like the Women of Worth experience in your corporate work dynamic? Call 0401 031 446 to get started today! www.womenofworth.com.au
Women of Worth is proudly delivered to John Holland courtesy of Systemix. www.systemix.com.au
Have you ever felt like you were walking across hot coals in life? Determined to succeed, willing yourself to go onward. All the while saying to yourself, “WHAT AM I DOING?!”
I know the feeling well because I ACTUALLY WALKED ACROSS HOT COALS.
And it didn’t go so well…
A number of years ago I attended a Tony Robbins workshop where, you guessed it, we were presented with the opportunity to test our confidence by walking across a glowing bed of hot coals. A few of us put our hands up and moments later I found myself staring down at what could just be an all around bad idea.
My first tentative steps were encouraging-- I was confident! I believed myself! But after a few moments I could hear the soles of my feet hissing like bacon on a hot griddle. At about two thirds of the way through the coals I collapsed onto safe ground with my feet in the air. Poof. Confidence gone.
A good friend of mine came running over and attempted to get me to my feet. When it was clear that wasn’t in the cards he ran into the hotel and retrieved a luggage cart, on which I was ferried (feet in the air) to the hospital.
Some moments we feel powerful, confident, invincible! Other times we have to explain to a nurse that we have been walking over hot coals at a self empowerment workshop. Did the experience leave me feeling vulnerable? Yes! But a number of years ago I had the word “courage” tattooed in Japanese on my hip. The antidote to vulnerability is bucket loads of courage. I had my own workshop to conduct the next day and nothing, not sore feet or a bruised ego, would stop me. I am happy to report that I presented my full program in trainers. (Fashion took a backseat to comfort that day!)
For the longest time I avoided telling this story because it left me feeling silly. Which is silly in itself because one of the things I teach at Women of Worth is that vulnerability is key to self development. How can we grow and learn if we are not vulnerable sometimes? In fact, if you spend most of your time avoiding conditions that make you feel vulnerable, how will you ever enjoy a new class? Take on a challenge at work? Decide to move to a different city?
In my next blog I’ll be talking about how we can become more comfortable with vulnerability in our day to day lives and use it as a catalyst for personal growth!
For more information on Women of Worth’s programs and services, please visit www.womenofworth.com.au!
Give a child a pack of crayons and by far one of the most popular drawings is a rainbow. That elusive arch of colour is so exciting to spot! As we grow older we are taught that rainbows are present at all times, it’s merely certain atmospheric conditions that enable us to get a few glimpses of that other worldly colour. In much the same way, human talent is always present within each and every one of us, but we often need assistance to find the right conditions so that we can shine. And once we do, it becomes difficult not to!
This is where Women of Worth comes in.
It has been about six months since we began our journey of personal growth and development with women of all positions, irrespective of background or title, at John Holland. With the inspired sea view offered by the Sandringham Yacht Club, we began a day of reflection, remembering who we are, what our continued aspirations will be and how far we’ve come. Along the way, each woman has selected a topic that speaks to her and has dug deeper with one of us, furthering her knowledge in a more personal way.
Our goal is to provide a custom fit toolkit of sorts: how to have a tough conversation, to use your voice, speaking your truth despite the outcome. (And readiness to accept a negative outcome if that comes to pass.) Negotiation, how to use positive influence, how to navigate through complex scenarios-- these are just a handful of studies that our group has sought more knowledge about through Women of Worth webinars and personalized coaching.
Alongside this toolkit we’ve also studied the enemies of learning-- unconscious biases that can cloud our judgment and reduce our ability to be compassionate towards ourselves and others. We’ve explored body language, facial expressions and tone, which often speak much louder than words! Knowing what you’re saying is the beginning. Making sure you’re delivering the message in just the right way is a lifelong journey that takes skill and practice.
As facilitators, we love each and every step of the collective growth process, but certainly some of the best and most rewarding moments come from direct feedback from the group:
"Inspired me to not just settle or accept things the way things were. And that I'm not doing this alone."
"Today, I enjoyed the time I got to spend with ‘future’ me."
"I felt like I was stuck in a boulder, but this whole experience has gone a long way to fixing things."
It only felt fitting that as we marked this day of progress, remembrance and genuine connection that we did get our very own rainbow at the Yacht Club! A wondrous reminder that our potential is always there, we simply need to create the right conditions for it to become visible!
As Women of Worth and John Holland move forward together in our personal growth and exploration, we invite you to ask yourself: what unexplored talent do you have within? And what would it take to unlock your potential? Women of Worth is here for you! Visit www.womenofworth.com.au today to get started-- we’d love to hear from you!
This Women of Worth program was presented in collaboration with Systemix.
Special thanks to Loren Tairi, People and Culture Manager at John Holland. Every program has an internal champion, a dedicated visionary who is tenacious, caring and bold. That person is Loren!
It never occurred to me that I couldn’t be a senior manager in a corporate bank-- it just isn’t in my DNA.
My Sicilian parents arrived in Australia in the 1960’s. Two short years later my father was a successful manufacturing jeweler, my mother producing evening and wedding gowns. They figured things out as they went along. Overcoming obstacles was part of daily life for us.
True to form, at eighteen years old I applied at my first banking job. I was ready to learn, ready to climb the corporate ladder! The man interviewing me asked if I knew how to make a good cup of coffee. Well, of course! I’m Italian. I eyed a jar of instant coffee in the corner of his office. Smiling, I got up and poured a little hot water into a mug. I spooned a pile of instant coffee on top of that, and without even stirring, placed the mug in front of him. It was an insult to Italians everywhere, but a strong message to my new employer: no, I don’t make coffee. I was not there for very long, but I was never asked to make coffee again.
Fast forward to age twenty-two. I was a newly married woman and applying for another banking position. Although my potential employer seemed pleased with my qualifications, he remarked that it was unlikely that I would go very far as I would probably start having children. Did I plan on becoming pregnant soon? Baffled, I said that I hadn’t even spoken to my husband about that yet. Why would I discuss it with him?
I’d like to say that my experiences in the working world are not the experiences of other women. But I know that isn’t true. I recently spoke with a woman who applied for a position at a real estate firm. Without even mentioning her many accomplishments they indicated that maternity leave was a financial killer and she was probably going to have children soon...right?
How is this still going on? With years of Human Resources seminars and legal battles and media headlines encouraging us to be mindful of such behavior...haven’t we learned anything? Not to mention that I did end up having those babies that my employers feared would wreck their bottom line. And I raised them as a single parent. They were the driving force behind my work ethic. Nothing was more important than providing for my boys.
With this in mind, I would like to share a couple of strategies that I’ve employed throughout my career to stay healthy, focused and positive in my work life.
Focus on being the best version of yourself. Where you are able to, invest in additional education and learning experiences. It will keep you up to date, energized and engaged. When you have new opportunities, it will give you confidence to know you’re doing your best!
Find 5 people who support you in being your best self. Spending time in the company of individuals who want you to succeed is essential and can give you a boost when you really need it!
Make sure your values align with the values of your superiors. If you find yourself in the midst of uncomfortable circumstances, learn what you can but actively look for ways to move on to bigger and better.
Have that coffee-- with someone you admire professionally! Most people are flattered if you ask them for a coffee to talk about their career. Be bold. Tell them you intend to work with them some day!
Keep courage front of mind. The antidote to fear is bucket loads of courage!
And finally, find a great coach who can help you raise the bar higher.
As I look back on a lifetime of work in mostly male dominated industries (corporate banking, IT, infrastructure) I realize that it is by “going where the energy is” that I’ve been successful. In other words, I’ve avoided making instant coffee from the beginning and it’s created a ripple effect in my work life that continues to lead me till this day.
Early in my parenting l also set myself the goal to raise resilient, resourceful and compassionate young men. I followed the adage that,
“Your children will become what you are...so be what you want them to be!”
It’s exactly that idea that lead me to create Women of Worth, empowering women to realize their inherent value, to pursue their dreams and to be resilient in the face of adversity.
Visit www.womenofworth.com.au to learn more about our vision for women everywhere as well our personal and professional coaching programs!
There is something so fascinating about watching a professional ballet company. Movements that would be impossible for you or I are executed flawlessly under the balance, direction and devoted skill of artists who spend endless hours honing their craft. It never fails to leave me wondering how I might be able to take my own performance to a new level.
Because at Women of Worth, a good day at work has the feel of a well choreographed dance.
Prior to meeting with our clients we spend a great deal of time getting to know them. What is it that they hope to learn? What professional challenges are they facing? What goals do they aspire to achieve? As we collect this essential data I get a real sense of my audience as a group. What venue would be beneficial for our gathering? Would a restful natural setting be best for this group? Yes. Let’s have a good view of the outdoors. I start to select the objects that would best suit the personalities of the group. Journals, pens, photos, colours even. Inspirational quotes are chosen with care to match the personalities and goals of my new friends.
Setting the stage for our work.
Once on site we begin to set up our space, careful to make a well lit circle so that we can all see each other and it’s easy to communicate. We all belong here, we are all welcome here, we are all safe here. Every topic we cover will be something a member of the group has requested we visit. Every decision about our future actions will be co created from within this space.
Recently we had the honour of facilitating with a lovely group of engineers, designers, project managers and Head Office Personnel at John Holland. Although each industry we work with may have different attributes, naturally many of the core concepts remain the same:
Who am I in all of this? Who are we in all of this?
Specifically, what is it that I have to bring to the table? How can I take my performance to the next level?
It is our absolute pleasure to choose each and every aspect of our workshop in precise detail to make everyone feel comfortable and inspired for this journey. Because it is in this choosing that we are communicating that yes, you matter. What you do matters and how you go about it matters. We are modelling that by being true to yourself you’ll find it easier to be open with others.
And that a good day at work is a group performance starring a diverse cast of characters. When unified in their vision it's quite a show!
Together with my dear friend and colleague Christine Mahoney, WOW has found its place in several countries, touching thousands of women in all strata of society. Dynamic Exchange is pleased to be delivering this program to John Hollands on behalf of Systemix. http://www.systemix.com.au/our-people/page/2/
I don’t know what kind of a sign it is when you’re getting ready to leave for California and your plane is struck by lightning, but I chose to interpret it as a good one. Much better than a cup of coffee, Melbourne sent me off with a jolt of energy from the heavens! My destination? The University of Southern California and specifically, their superbly talented finance team. I had been fortunate to meet the Chief Financial Officer of USC sometime before at a Toronto Corporate Conference. He had mentioned that he’d love to have me come to the U.S. to meet with his team. The day had finally come and I was off to an electrifying start, so to speak!
Feels Like Home To Me
Nothing could have prepared me for the beauty that awaited when I arrived at the university campus. There are certain places in the world where you just feel comfortable. Maybe the town you grew up in or your Aunt’s house on a summer holiday. Never did I expect a campus to feel as welcoming as home, and yet it did. The sun on my face felt like home. The people around me felt like home. And as if tossing an extra bonus, I learned that I would be co facilitating our workshop with a dear friend I had met in Cincinnati -- Charles Holmes. Charles and I had always wanted to work together and after agreeing our philosophies for group development were very similar, we set the intention that someday we would. Without knowing any of this, the Chief Financial Officer of USC had determined that we should partner and brought him in as well. What a wonderful turn of events!
Meeting the Dream Team
Prior to my departure both Charles and l had taken the time to reach out to each member of the finance team and learned a bit about the group dynamic-- this was an amazing collection of individuals. What interested me most was that they already had many common goals. Despite being interviewed separately, they resoundingly expressed the same desire. They were pretty much saying, “Let’s find out more about ourselves and each other.” I could not have been more thrilled with that discovery. Furthermore, they were all conscious of the desire to elevate their team performance and were very aware that their roles within the university had lasting impact on students, faculty and yes...the world! What more could you ask for in a group? They were like the dream team!
As we settled in for the workshop at the beautiful Terranea Resort, I began to think about one of the key reasons I had been so eager to visit the University of Southern California. It was something in the USC President’s speech on the subject of inclusiveness:
“If we lose our inclusive spirit we lose ourselves.”
What a timely message. Here I was, wandering around a big university, yet I felt at home. How does that happen? It happens through the sincere willingness of others to offer a warm welcome to a stranger. I had been welcomed with a spirit of inclusiveness.
We all need to be part of a community. Whether it’s your neighborhood, your corporation or your finance team, communities are pathways to human happiness. And it just so happens you can’t just create strategies for economic growth without taking into account the needs of colleagues, faculty and students. Cultivating a warm, inclusive environment is a top priority. And here I was with a group who wanted to deepen and strengthen that skill-- wow.
I am so grateful to have had the experience of working with such a lovely and talented group at University of Southern California. Not long after our workshop I received a lovely message:
"Thank you for providing our leadership team at USC a glimpse into a world where the scope of what can be created is limitless. Thank you for allowing us to imagine that we all have the ability to manifest everything and that our life can be the end result our highest dreaming, our highest intent!"
I’d like to thank USC for their spirit of inclusiveness and will certainly be thinking of how I felt in their care the next time I welcome a newcomer to my group.
This photo represents a culmination of many things to me: it was International Women's Day and John Hollands, the legendary engineering company, was celebrating the women in its ranks. It was also the day we were launching Women of Worth, a program designed to empower women in their personal and professional lives. But like most things, I had planted the seed for this moment much earlier, when I met the senior John Hollands team at an off site event where I was welcomed as a guest speaker.
Overcoming Self Doubt
Even after speaking at hundreds of events, I'm always a bit nervous. Speaking at John Hollands was certainly no different. But as the night moved along it became clear I would be presenting during dinner-- could I compete with hungry stomachs and requests to pass the salt? I hoped so.
Taking My Own Medicine
I try to follow my own teachings: big breath, remain mindful, be authentic. Begin. Within a few moments I was grateful to have the attention of the room as I talked about human potential. Yes, everyone in that room was human, just like me. Looking to improve. Often feeling vulnerable and imperfect. Wondering what it takes to make change happen.
Soon I realized that dinner had been served and things were still going well. Those hungry people actually wanted to hear more! I began to talk about how the biggest obstacles we face are usually things we tell ourselves. If we can break through that barrier of self talk, potential awaits. We can change. Not only as people, but as organizations. I've built my twenty year career on it.
Setting Yourself Up in This Moment Leads to the Next
That moment when I started to speak even though people were buttering dinner rolls and I was a bit nervous? That led me to the opportunity to speak again at John Hollands and this very photo on International Women's Day. Loren Tairi, who invited me to present, was my champion, believing in me and working to make sure I was part of this celebration. Trevor Hall saw the value in strengthening the regional corporate culture of John Holland as an advocate for career progression and developing female talent.
Finally, I couldn't believe my luck in meeting Madeline Keryk, AFLW footballer of the highest caliber. What impressed me about Maddy was that she was incredibly humble...all while having every intention to succeed in a sport that is traditionally male. Graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Science, Madeline plans to apply for her Doctorate of Physiotherapy. She plays for Melbourne Uni in the VFL and was drafted from there to Carlton, where she is co-vice captain. (I did catch myself secretly hoping she was once a Collingwood die hard– like me!)
Of course, I had to ask Madeline if she would be a guest speaker for Women of Worth and she said yes. Maddy's a pioneer, opening the door for women of all ages and from all spheres of society to step out and follow their dreams. Her topic, "Being Bold and Courageous", is something she lives daily.
All in all? Not a bad day. And to think that it all started with me taking a big breath and beginning to speak even though I was nervous.
Want to be bold and courageous?
Join Madeline Keryk, me and other accomplished women in Melbourne on Friday, April 28th.Visit https://www.womenofworth.com.au/2017-programs/ to sign up today. Women of Worth has been a work in progress for over twelve years. Together with my dear friend and colleague Christine Mahoney, WOW has found its place in several countries, touching thousands of women in all strata of society. We are so pleased to be delivering this program to John Hollands on behalf of Systemix. http://www.systemix.com.au/our-people/page/2/
Women of Worth is a safe, nurturing space to define who you are, what you want and how to go about getting it. Watch us in action and be sure to join us soon-- we'd love to meet you!