NATALIE DEVLIN Chief Experience Officer Charter Hall
“I think the whole way through my career, I've been galvanized when people told me what I couldn't do as a woman. When I'd had my first child, the business that I was in changed shape and my role no longer existed - a lot of people said to me, well you'll never get a part-time “Head of” role, having just been pregnant and had a baby.
I was really determined that that wouldn't be the case. I had my own self-doubt – as you always do - but I found that people were very open to flexibility, if you demonstrated the ability to deliver and were a good fit with the organisation. I found that we could work together to create a world that worked for both of us.
“So maybe I’m actually thankful for those people who said I couldn’t do it…because they lit a little fire under me.”
I think the other important thing is knowing when to go. I remember being in a role where I was surrounded by lovely people, who were very flattering, but the role was no longer right for me - and I had someone else offer me a role. I was deciding whether to stay or go, and a friend asked me, “when the flattery is over, what's left behind?” And so, I made that leap away from comfort, into the challenge.
You’re always going to have these junctions in your life - and who you surround yourself with, the type of relationship and the level of honesty you have with them, is really important in terms of thinking through and making decisions.
WOMEN SUPPORTING WOMEN.
Another piece that's been very important to me, is about the kind of women and men we bring into our organisation. Especially when women were really in the minority, it was important to me that we were bringing in men and women who would support women to be successful. At Charter Hall we look for team players who want to see you succeed, who are generous with you; who'll make time for you.
The greatest help that other women have given me, and I hope to give other women, is introducing them to other great women. To build their network and community, so that they feel stronger, but also so that they learn from each other.
I've been blessed with colleagues and Board members who are genuinely interested and supportive and want me to do well. They pay attention and notice things, often offering to put me in touch with someone who could help me with something I am working on, or a problem I'm trying to solve. That is the best kind of support - where dots are connected for you, but you have to do something with it.
“There are always challenges. But the danger is when you feel alone. For me, the thing was to have allies.”
And not allies for the sake of allies - but allies who believed in the same things as you. And they could be men or women - but it definitely changed for me when there were more women, because it felt like we had shared experiences. So having the right people around, men and women, at all levels -above, to the side, below - is really very critical. And if you can't get it initially, then you have to go outside and find those allies - but you can't do it on your own.
We initially approached Two Good Co because we were looking for a partner to support as we launched our Domestic Violence Policy. I have never seen as many of our employees show up in the way that they did when we initially launched that policy.
“That groundswell of support made me realise that this is an issue for everyone, not only women; that we were surrounded by people who were the sons and daughters who had suffered as well.”
Two Good and Charter Hall are kindred spirits. We both have a direction of travel, but we're not fixed. The joy of our partnership has been that Two Good will be trying to solve something, or we will, and we'll say “how can we do this together and amplify the outcome?”
Rob and I generally catch up and shoot the breeze every couple of months, just to talk about what's happened for Two Good and what's happened for us - that understanding of each other's organisations is essential. The relationship is active and solution oriented.
I love the whole idea of amplifying impact. Our business is predicated on a model of mutual success; if we win, you win more. If we grow, we've got more to invest. For Two Good, it’s the same; the more support you have, the more vulnerable people can gain employment opportunities, and more people get fed.
Two Good isn’t really about handouts, it’s about recognizing skills and opportunities and the ability to earn income; to empower people to actively participate in society.
It's such a sustainable way of changing people's lives…and I hope that our partnership with Two Good inspires our people to think about how they can have impact. To challenge them to think with more than one lens in mind, like cost or quick delivery...
“...to understand that you can amplify your impact with the decisions you make.””