International Women's Day is just around the corner, on Sunday, March 8.
The day is recognised as a chance to reflect globally on the role and treatment of women and girls in all facets of life. It is an opportunity, as a society, to commemorate the positive changes we've made in the support and promotion of universal gender equality, and to identify key areas where we still have ground to make up.
To mark International Women's Day, we decided to speak to Vanessa Nirmal, a Senior Business Analyst working within The Greater's Project Management Office.
Vanessa is a well liked and widely respected member of The Greater team, as her role requires her to liaise with various different Greater departments and work with these stakeholders to provide the business with solutions which improve processes both internally, and externally for our customers.
Here's what we learned from Vanessa about being a woman in the worforce in 2015 at The Greater Building Society.
How long have you been working with The Greater?
Where did you work before you came to The Greater?
Within Newcastle I have worked for Drake Recruitment and Training, FreightCorp and Newcastle City Council, however the most diverse roles I ever held were within Telstra. I worked for Telstra for 12 years, from retail to delivering the internal mail to finance services to operations to delivery services and finally as a commercial manager for their infrastructure services capital investment program.
As a woman, what has it been like working with The Greater?
It is nice to be surrounded by so many talented, hard working women. The organisation wouldn’t function without them.
Who are your female role-models currently working at The Greater?
I think role models should be less about gender and more about like-minded values, but I do find my values often align with women I consider to be successful. I admire the journey Jane Drinkwater undertook to become one of the directors of The Greater’s board. I feel just as much inspiration however from the female branch managers I have met who demonstrate an extraordinary ability to manage care for their families, exemplify customer service and drive results for their branch everyday.
As a woman in the workforce in 2015, what frustrates you? What would you like to see change?
In Australia inequality of pay and a continuing reduction in the number of women who hold senior, executive and board positions over the last 5 years is disheartening, especially when women represent half of most organisations’ customer base. Neither society’s expectations of men and women’s roles at home and at work, nor increased female self-confidence is going to change overnight. I do however think that the promotion of paternity leave for both genders and formalising executive and senior manager sponsorship of talent, regardless of gender, would be a great start in the right direction.
What is the most valuable lesson you've learned in the workforce?
Actions speak louder than words. People won’t respect you and you can’t respect yourself if your actions do not match up with what you say.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
I had a manager in Telstra who encouraged me to apply for different kinds of roles. He said the best way to learn is to throw yourself in the deep end and never make the same mistakes twice.