I grew up in what my husband likes to call "The Bubble". I had (and still have) a happy home life, my family are super supportive, my friends are my biggest cheerleaders and I cruised through my school years. I was even lucky enough to have a number of positive female role models in my life. You want to travel? Go for it. You want to be a doctor? Sure thing. You want to work and be a mum?
Absolutely! But my role models held pretty traditional jobs: office manager, care giver, teacher, and here I am, pursuing a career in a predominantly female field, human resources.
Now I'm not saying that this is always the case, however at an IWD conference this year during the opening address, I heard the phrase "You can't be, what you can't see" and it really resonated with me. Without representation in a diverse number of fields, young girls are more likely to think that's not an option for them, no matter how hard we work to build up their confidence and tell them to shoot for the moon.
After graduating uni, I struggled to find a graduate role in my field. It's not a unique story, it happens to many, and so my Plan B was to take a job I was good at. That's how I landed at Kiandra. I took a contract working as the administration assistant, running errands, making coffees, planning events and making sure everyone else had all the things they needed to get their jobs done and kick goals. It just so happened that as I was employed, the business was also looking to grow their HR function and I've been able to be part of that journey.
I’ve been lucky to have worked for many different leaders in my time, that all taught me valuable lessons. Some more traditional that kept me at arm’s length in my defined role doing what I was asked, and some I got the pleasure of working alongside, who helped grow my confidence and knowledge in my chosen field.
They've helped me navigate the corporate world and learn my way and place in it, what works and doesn’t for me – but more importantly how I will mentor and manage the next generation. In my later years when I was taking on more HR responsibilities and handing over my admin duties, I would freeze every time I saw someone approaching my desk. Were they going to ask me to make a coffee? Or were they seeking my assistance about our policies? Making that transition has been one of the biggest struggles of my career so far, and even more challenging has been how I navigate protecting my personal brand in those situations.
So what have I learned on this journey?
It's not easy, sometimes it's REALLY hard! I wasn't always great at controlling my emotions and responses, and I still don't have it perfected, but I'm here to contribute and create a better Kiandra, which sometimes means doing things outside the job description. It's also not easy speaking up when things aren't working for you, but more often than not, the other person is just seeking a solution to their problem. They aren't acting with the intent to annoy and ruin your day, so if something doesn't work for you, say so and offer an alternative.
I'm going to wrap up this waffling, with a small pledge. While I don't hold a technical role, mine is more a supportive one, I'm still working in this industry and while I can, I will continue creating an environment that is diverse, inclusive and inviting for females, and encourage us all to try and spend a minute in someone else’s shoes, and see their point of view. At the end of the day, that's something we can all do.
Read more in the series from Judy and Marielle.