“When I was in my first year of high school, a teacher identified that I was quite a strong public speaker - something I hadn’t previously really recognised in myself as a really big strength. That made a huge difference to the course of my academic journey and eventually led to much of my professional success.
Even though we didn't have a lot of money, growing up in a single-parent household, I was very lucky - my mum believed in the value of speech and drama, so she had sent us to private speech lessons. But even though I had that training, no one had ever actually said, “you know what, you're really good at this.”
When someone says that to you for the first time, it's a massive moment - and when you get that repeated feedback, it goes on to keep building that confidence.
“Once you get this sense that you're really good at something, it flows into the rest of your life.”
SKILLS vs STRENGTHS.
I would love that gift to be passed on to other people, like it was given to me – just by someone taking an interest and seeing something in me.
It also really channeled my belief that every individual has these incredible strengths and potential. Which is a belief that has really shaped me as a person - but certainly also helped me in my career. The centre of my leadership and who I am as a person, and even in my family, is based on the belief in every single person having an opportunity to reach their greatest potential. That's my driver - I get up every single day to do that.
The strengths piece is critical to me, because it's not about being great at everything, but finding out what you have an ability in. A strength is not only something you’re good at, but that you also love; something that energizes you. A strength is not just a skill that you're great at - if you don't love it, it's generally not a strength.
“For me, it's tapping into people’s strengths and acknowledging that they don't have to be all things, to all people - what are they great at? What makes them unique?”
THE 'SECRET SAUCE' OF BUSINESS.
I had my own business for about 10 years and I was very lucky in that business; I had a small team, but the people who were working with me were often parents or people who required flexibility. I had an entrepreneurial mindset and was open to great talent in any shape or form.
The team around me did way more for me than I could have ever done for them, in terms of making our business successful, but I think what I was able to do was give them the opportunity to still be successful, still be able to contribute in the workplace, but do it in a way that suited them and their families.
It was kind of like the ‘secret sauce’ to my business, because I got this incredible talent who didn't necessarily want to go back to the office five days a week. But for however many hours they wanted to work, these really great, talented people were able to contribute to the business.
“I think that's where we have a responsibility to make sure that we bring people along on a journey with us.”
CHANGING THE COURSE, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
There is so much that women can contribute in the workplace, in leading, in the community - they just need opportunity. I want to make sure that I do my bit to support that. It's the privilege I have, being in this position, to take on that responsibility - and I very gladly take that on - for our team, for my family, for my friends.
International Women's Day is an important day because it causes us to pause and really think, what more have we got to do? What can we individually contribute to making change? Being a mother of two teenage daughters, I am worried that they're going to get to my age and a lot won't have changed…and I just don't want to accept that.
So, I think days like International Women’s Day are important for that reflection and assessment…but it shouldn't be one day a year. We have to do more than what we're doing right now, if we want to make the change that's needed. That's the reality. If we only did a run or a workout one day a year, we're not going to get any fitter.
“We all have a responsibility to help other people achieve their potential, and have a responsibility to create change, every single day.”
EXCELLENCE vs PERFECTIONISM.
I think the interesting thing is it actually doesn't matter what level you are in an organization, or what your job is - everybody has a really interesting story, has something to share with you, has something you can learn from. The best moments, for me, are when someone tells me later on that I had an impact on their life, or that I somehow made a difference, because it’s usually reciprocal; I get so many insights from people who came to me for advice or mentoring, but I actually learnt just as much from them. I would love us to just all tell our different stories…because my first job was not being CEO. I started out waiting tables, after I finished uni and got to Sydney and needed a job. I started working in a hotel and I just loved it from day one - I still love it.
So often, I get so inspired when we're in the hotels and I meet people and think, gosh, that person that’s waiting tables, or working in housekeeping, or on the front door; they could be the CEO of a company one day. And maybe they haven’t even imagined that, but the thing about hospitality is that it's such a social elevator - you're only limited by your imagination and what you personally want to achieve.
When an opportunity comes, you don't have to be ready; it's very hard to perfectly learn everything or know everything all at once. Just jump at it. And then, keep jumping at your opportunities as they come up. I believe in the idea of excellence versus perfectionism. Perfectionism is an unattainable idea of something; excellence is different every moment, every day. Some days, you're going to do better than others; sometimes, you are going to be more self-critical.
“My best today is going to be different to what it might be tomorrow…and that's okay.”
I think the thing I really loved about Two Good Co was that it felt like they were doing really great work in that space - with training, with food, with hospitality.
For me, it was just a natural fit – to make a difference to people’s lives, particularly vulnerable women, through things that I knew that I could add some value to.