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Careers – who really does manage them?

By Jenny Gillam
Director, Jenny Gillam Search/Recruitment Consulting
Member, NAWO VIC State Committee

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Melissa McGowan (left) and Fiona Vines provided inspired attendees to tap into the strategies and people that can help you to take control of your own career.

I was lucky to attend an inspiring NAWO Quick Bites session on Careers – Who really does manage them? at ITW (Illinois Tool Works) in February. For those of you not familiar with ITW, they are a global company with strong presence here in Australia. They are Australia’s leading supplier of fasteners and hardware with distribution exclusively through retail hardware outlets and mass merchants. Participants had the opportunity to do a site visit around the “state of the art” distribution centre and to meet a number of ITW employees, including our host Sue Newcombe, the Divisional HR Manager Residential Division, and one of our guest speakers, Melissa MacGowan, the Group HR Director, ITW Construction.

It was a packed house as usual with people coming from a broad range of member businesses. It was great to see the networking going on both prior to the session and afterwards with many people running into former colleagues and also forging new acquaintances. Whilst the audience was predominantly women, there were also a handful of men who came to learn more about building diverse work places. Great to see.

Both our speakers were very engaging and provided terrific insights into their own careers and the businesses they have worked in. They both took a very pragmatic approach to managing their careers and encouraged others to do the same.

Our first speaker, Fiona Vines, Diversity, Inclusion & Flexible Working Lead at ANZ Bank, explained that she had moved from an operational role to the position she is currently in. She encouraged people to take opportunities as they arise and to “back yourself” to be successful in the role. She had 10 career tips which she shared with the group and has found each one to be incredibly powerful. These made common sense and business sense and reinforced the fact that it’s up to you to manage your own career.

  1. Be clear about your personal and professional priorities
  2. Use flexible working to help you balance your life
  3. Pay people to do things for you
  4. Get a sponsor
  5. Know what your thing is
  6. Be open minded
  7. Be excellent at your current job
  8. Pay attention to your Super
  9. Use social media to raise your profile
  10. Set goals… and tell people

Our second speaker was Melissa MacGowan Group HR Director, ITW Construction. Melissa provided great insights about her own career and ways to engage with the business to facilitate career opportunities. She was very clear about the fact that it is up to each individual to understand their own needs and the needs of the business and to actively manage their own careers.

Melissa talked about Barriers to Hiring and Promoting women that included unconscious bias among managers, lack of work life balance, lack of role models and women’s confidence and aspiration.  She also talked about some strategies for leveraging female talent to achieve a high performance culture. This included promoting work life balance; Development and leadership training for women; Transparent career paths and salary structures; Build awareness of the benefits of diversity among managers; and set targets and measure progress.

She then provided some handy hints to help individuals define success as they move through their careers. Melissa made the point that success in the early part of your career may not be the same as it is midway through or later in your career when there are potentially many competing priorities in your life. Melissa said that success for her is about wanting to feel connected, energetic, authentic, and generous.

Some of the key points she made were:

  • Lifestyle is not linear – there are many competing priorities which you need to accommodate
  • Transition is testing – give yourself time to manage the change
  • Maybe I am built for speed…
  • This is how we roll
  • Just don’t drop the glass ones – balance is a myth! It’s important to be able to pick the critical priorities and get them over the line
  • Be ready to move – take opportunities as they arise – overseas, interstate, new career paths
  • Flexibility no brainer – it is a given that you require flexibility to achieve success
  • Confront don’t avoid
  • Talk shorter – don’t waffle
  • Time Management only makes you busier – pick the winners and go for them

The feedback from the QB session was overwhelmingly positive, with most attendees taking away some great learnings. The most important? It is up to you to manage your own career… and there are many strategies and people to assist you to be successful.

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Sending out a warm welcome to new Silver member @KelloggCompany from the NAWO network! Such a great company and brand committed supporting women develop their careers and move the dial on gender balance in operations. #inspirationatwork #operations #genderbalance

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