Author: Jayne Drinkwater

Advancing women in the workplace

Greater Building Society Director Jayne Drinkwater was a guest speaker at the Hunter Regional Women Connect Conference held in August. We asked her for three useful tips for women in the workplace that she took away from the conference.

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I had the pleasure of attending the annual Hunter Business Womens Network Regional Women Connect 2012 Conference, along with more than 100 other women. There were some truly inspiring speakers and there was an overwhelming sense at the conference that it is time for women to stand up and do things differently to take their rightful place in the workplace, business and the community. This will benefit everyone, not just women.  

Here are three key points that kept coming up throughout the conference. 

1. Women need to take risks to get what they want

Women who get ahead in business or in their personal lives, find out what drives them and then take some risks to get where they want to be. If you are feeling trapped or stuck in a role, it is up to you to go out a find a new one that is better for you.  Find something that you are passionate about so work can be fun as well as meeting your financial needs. 

2. Say YES to opportunities

One of the things I have done in my career is to try lots of roles. If an opportunity presents itself, take it. Trying different things is a good way to help you find your niche. In my career I have worked in a range of industries, across a range of roles, for both the private and public sectors and I have learned something new in every role. Of course you do need to make sure you give each role a fair chance and demonstrate some stability in your career, but trying different roles will give you the best chance of finding what you really enjoy doing. I have been fortunate enough to have had some amazing role models including Gail Kelly (now Westpac CEO) and Michelle McPherson (CFO and Deputy CEO at nib Health Funds) who showed confidence in me because I took risks and asked for opportunities. You should actively seek out role models and let them know what you hope to achieve so they can help you to be successful. 

I would also encourage women to take advantage of public speaking opportunities. Many people said to me at the conference, “don’t you get nervous speaking?” Of course I do, but I always say yes to the opportunity. If you get the chance to speak about your passion you will not only have fun but develop a valuable new skill in the process.

3. Talk about your successes

Taking the opportunity to be a speaker at the conference leads me to the third point. Self promotion is unfortunately something that many women do not find comes naturally.  Many of us would benefit from talking more about our successes and reminding people that we have a lot to offer. Speaking at the HBWN Conference was a fabulous opportunity for me to share my experience to help other women, but it also gave me an opportunity to speak about my successes and remind people that I have certain expertise. 

In this highly competitive and cluttered marketplace, it is more important than ever that you promote yourself. No one else is going to do it for you. It is not about boasting or big-noting, it is about taking opportunities for self promotion and also reminding people of the value you have added. 

In all of these three areas, the common theme is that you should not wait for things to happen to you. Get clear on what you want and take steps to get there and if you feel you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.

What are your thoughts on helping women to advance in the workplace? Please share your comments, tips and ideas below.