Meet Senior Legal Counsel in Australia, whose passion for learning knows no bounds! She started her working life as a junior lawyer at an Australian law firm and then moved to a government role, drafting legislation for the NSW Parliament. One of the first laws she wrote was the re-enactment of the Married Persons (Equality of Status) Act.
Transitioning into a knowledge management role led her to a law firm in Dubai in 2007, and in 2010 she joined ABB as the lawyer for Power Grids division for the UAE and various oversight countries. In 2017 she returned to Australia and joined ABB Australia as a senior lawyer. Her current role involves advising the business on legal matters and providing advice on risk and risk mitigation. She is also the Data Privacy Officer for Australia, country privacy lead responsible for GDPR rollout and delivers integrity and risk training from time to time.
She has a life-long passion for learning, and has attained qualifications as a personal trainer and as a chef and various other certifications including one in nutrition. She recently completed a Certificate in Governance and Risk Management and a Company Secretary course through the Governance Institute of Australia, and is currently halfway through completing her qualifications as a Master Life Coach with a specialization in wellness. She is also about to embark on the ABB Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt course.
She is quite active and has completed various long-distance triathlons and ultramarathons including 250km self-supported foot races across the Sahara and Gobi deserts.
What does balance mean for you and how are you seeking to achieve this at ABB?
Balance for me is about making time for my personal growth and investing in myself, such as regular exercise and further study, and it’s also about spending quality time with the people I care about.
My advice (to men and women) is: don’t forget to invest in yourself – that may range from taking on extra study, volunteering to take on more responsibility in the , or blocking out time for exercise and sticking to it, taking it as seriously as if it was a work meeting. I am a firm believer in the mental benefits of regular exercise as it has been shown to increase energy levels, help alleviate stress and improve memory. For example, I aim to exercise on most days, such as going for a run or doing a HIIT or Crossfit class before work. I also sometimes take part in the yoga sessions that are held on Tuesdays at Moorebank, which is a great example of ABB supporting balance in the workplace (no pun intended!).
I am also a firm believer quality sleep. I aim for at least 7-7 ½ hours a night. Also, what I enjoy about my current role is that the legal and risk team take our work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously and we have a friendly, collegiate approach to the way we work together.
Have you faced any gender-specific challenges in your career thus far; if yes, how have you addressed them?
Yes! There are still gender biases in the workplace, and this is often seen in the language that sometimes used. There is also still a bit of the club mentality in some of the work environments I have been in. I have also experienced pay inequality. I have been vocal and spoken up for myself. When I hear statements or banter where there may be sexist undertones (either male or female bias or using stereotypes) I will call it out.
What role do you think men can play in bringing better balance in the workplace?
Balance affects all genders, not just women. The role everyone (not just men) can play in bringing better balance to the workplace would and calling out biases and bad e.g. challenging derogatory, demeaning, belittling remarks, particularly in the gender-biased and stereotyping language that can be used. Another way is by recognizing merit, not gender. Recognize and tackle unconscious bias, which can manifest in a number of ways – e.g. ‘group think’ , perception bias. Look to substance over style when assessing the capability of an individual. Balance drives a better working world.
What do you believe will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
The two biggest challenges I believe will be challenging gender myths and biases, and pay equality. It’s extraordinary that women are still paid less than men in many areas, and this has a long term impact as well e.g. significantly less superannuation.