Why are you in this industry/occupation?
Since graduating from Uni (with an Arts degree!) I’ve built a career in workplaces that have had relatively low female participation. I started my career in the mining industry and later moved into roles within the automotive and manufacturing industries. These industries offered me fantastic opportunities for development and the ability to really connect with the products created by the businesses I worked within.
Along my pathway to becoming an experienced operational leader, I was willing to take chances and eager to grasp opportunities when I saw them. I changed my professional specialty and developed industry-leading expertise in supply chain management and operational improvement. These skills have been an essential component of my career success and serve me today in my roles as both a consultant and non-executive director.
What are the benefits?
I love working in industries where you have a connection to the end product – where you can see and feel the impact that you have in delivering something. Whether that’s digging a rock out of the ground, making a consumer product, or getting things from A to B, I like to feel I’m part of the process.
I’ve worked from some iconic businesses and that has certainly added value and appeal to my CV. I know that I have an attractive skill set that can be applied in a wide range of organisations and this has allowed me to work in some fantastic places.
What are the drawbacks?
My industries have tended to be those with lower female participation levels, so it’s true that I’ve been one of the only women in the room on many occasions. However, as daunting as that might sound, I’ve often found it quite empowering. I’ve also been really fortunate to have some great male colleagues, mentors and sponsors, who have supported me along my path and payed a huge role in my career success (and enjoyment!).
One area that was quite challenging for me was working out how to be an operational leader and an active mother at the same time. I didn’t have many successful role models to be guided by in this area and struggled to know where to start in trying to determine a way to excel in both roles. I really had to find my way on my own and it was tough to know the right thing to do for my career and my family. I’m thankful that I managed to find the right solution for me and even more so, am pleased to see many more organisations providing increased opportunity for flexibility in operational roles.
Why do you encourage other women and girls to consider the industry/occupation?
I see so much opportunity in the operational industries that I work within. I think that they have been fantastic environments to learn and to grow – and my experience has shown me that they offer a breadth of opportunity to grow your career beyond industry specialisation. The skills I learnt managing industrial change in a warehouse, helped me to be recognised as a strong leader, which resulted in me being asked to manage a distribution network, which delivered me a challenging career as a supply chain consultant and non-executive director. I would never have dreamed of those opportunities or pathways when I started my career.