This week has got you covered for inspiration.
I have narrowed down my top picks for the most inspirational women in business. I’ve picked out their key success factors from what they studied and their biggest challenges to their own experience with the confidence gap. Get out your little book of life lessons because these are going to help you no matter where you see yourself ending up!
Alison Watkins one of Australia’s most accomplished female leaders. However, I am not only inspired by her immense career success but her determination to break down gender roles in the workplace and at home.
Alison is just one of four women in Australia to run an ASX Top 50 company. Like many of us, Alison excelled at school and then progressed into college to start a commerce degree that kept her career options open. She studied at the University of Tasmania where she met her future husband Rod. After completing an MBA Watkins then landed a job at McKinsey. Juggling four kids and two working parents saw Rod retire from investment banking so that Watkins could return to work.
Georgina Dent from Agenda writes;
“Many will argue, quite rightly, that what Rod did is no different to what thousands and thousands of women have been doing for decades. It’s true. Why should we celebrate a man for forgoing his career to keep things running on the family front when that’s what wives have done, and continue to do, without fanfare? The answer is quite simply because of that.”
Alison and Rod had begun to break the mould of expectation… and doing so led Alison to achieve immense career success. She is a strong believer in broadening the realm of possibilities for women in the workplace by breaking down gender roles, empowering leadership and harnessing confidence.
I source great inspiration from a speech Alison gave in 2014 about ‘Conquering the Summit’. So I have pulled out the top three quotes from this speech for your own inspiration:
ONE: Advice to young students the same age as her two eldest children
“Firstly for the young men and women, like Grace and Elliott. You are at university with more women than men, you will get married and have kids after you’ve established your careers… Grace and Elliott have seen women hold many leadership roles. Grace and Elliott will choose their employers according to diversity and workplace flexibility. Grace’s employers will value and promote her on merit even though she’s not a tomboy, and can’t play golf, and the fact she likes the odd beer will be neither here nor there.
TWO: Advice to women already well into their careers
“For those men and women who are well into your careers, you know you are making a difference to others. It’s the way you are raising your children to understand they can do anything. The way you are conscious of ensuring your girls stick at their maths and team sports. The way you encourage them to think about all futures as possibilities and point to female role models from all walks of life…. It’s the way you make a difference to women in your workplace, the risks you take to create opportunities for them and help them succeed, including importantly, in line roles. It’s the time you take to meet with aspiring women leaders, to introduce them to people who can help them redefine what’s possible and be practical in charting a course. It’s my strong view that it is critical to Australia’s economic and social growth that both men and women do more to develop future female leaders.”
THREE: Thoughts on the “Female CEO”
“I feel a strong responsibility to be successful for all the women who will become CEOs in the years to come – it’s how I will contribute to changing the perceptions of what a female leader is and to accelerating the day that will come when the term “female CEO” doesn’t evoke any particular perceptions.”
Watkins hopes for when the phrase “female CEO” invokes no particular perception at all. Its up to us to follow in her footsteps and actively break down gender roles by pursuing our own success.