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Pioneering Leadership – Leading change for yourself and others

Image: Felicity Furey speaking to a full house at NAWO’s recent QLD Quick Bite

What does it really mean to be an influential leader? How can each of us help evoke change, no matter how great or small, not only for ourselves but also for the lives of others? The attendees of QLD’s latest NAWO Quick Bite pondered these questions and more. Thanks to Kartini Oei, Transformation Manager – ANZ, Air BP and Chair of NAWO’s QLD State Committee and Toni Dugdale, Community Relations and Communications Advisor, Caltex Refinery and Member of NAWO’s QLD State Committee for sharing the following event messages…

Speakers Felicity Furey and Rebecca Townshend

NAWO QLD members were lucky to share some time with other NAWO members over lunch and networking and then were privileged to hear from two amazing speakers, both who have been enormously influential in creating change, but both in very different ways. In some regards our fabulous speakers, Felicity Furey and Rebecca Townshend, could be called pioneers, but at their core they simply acted to fill a need they were passionate about – to make engineering more accessible and attractive to women.

After becoming aware of the statistics on female students completing engineering degrees and being shocked to discover they had not changed in years, Felicity Furey decided to do something about it. She founded the not-for-profit ‘The Power of Engineering’ as a way of engaging year 9 & 10 female high school students about the potential of an engineering career. In the process of growing both her own career and this organisation she is learning an enormous amount about herself and her leadership style which ultimately is making her more effective in the workplace. Some key takeaways included:

  • Asking the question “what does a leader look like?” can be enormously powerful, often there is more than meets the eye.
  • Often leaders have to share their ideas and stories hundreds of times to make them come to life, success is not an “overnight” thing.
  • Looking beyond the surface at something may surprise you – as it turns out engineering is very creative, not just black and white.
  • Founding a not-for-profit organisation is a journey of bravery, risk taking and self-discovery that you may not have experienced in your career and can fill an ‘excitement area’ in your life. Development that supports your career can occur outside the workplace and help fulfil your dreams and help balance out your day job.
  • Having the right team in place is essential. Know what you are not good at and find people who can do these things well to work with you. Everyone has a strength to bring to the table – let everyone shine – you can’t do everything yourself.
  • It is better to do one powerful thing well and repeat it, than to do many things mediocre.
  • Invest in yourself, after all you are worth it!

A passion for community development led Rebecca Townshend to Cambodia as part of ‘Engineers Without Borders’ working at the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics. Here she was able to offer her experience and put to a different use her engineering and psychology degrees to help land mine victims rebuild their lives. Like Felicity, the experience outside of her core career path was a profound one and taught her a lot about herself and leadership.

Her key takeaways included:

  • Work out what your strengths are and use them as the basis for how you lead.
  • Practice ongoing continuous improvement, no matter how small the activity or learning is.
  • There are huge benefits to volunteering in organisations that allow you to deploy your skillset. You will gain enormous experience and learning a lot about yourself that you can then direct to your career.

Thanks to everyone who attended. To our wonderful QLD NAWO members, and especially our male members who help support and encourage our females, thank you! We hope you found this event thought-provoking and interesting. We look forward to seeing you at another of our great events soon!

L to R – Kartini Oei, Felicity Furey, Rebecca Townshend, Davina Shearer and Janelle Wieden

A full house enjoyed this inspiring event

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

About a week ago from NAWO's Twitter via Hootsuite Inc.