A GLOBAL CAREER JOURNEY
HITI TALUJA – CHARTERING OPERATIONS MANAGER, INCITEC PIVOT LIMTED
Inspiring big dreams!
Hiti at large
at do you do in your spare time?
Every Saturday my daughter and I attend Bharatanatyam (Indian Dance classes). We also enjoy ‘experimental cooking” (my daughter’s words!) together – our kitchen has every gadget you can imagine.
If you could do one thing to change the world for the better, what would it be?
Change perceptions of gender roles – men can cry and women can run a business. A man is not weak if he cries and a woman is not weak if she compromises to keep the family unit strong. Keeping a family together is very similar to keeping a business together
What do you do to make yourself feel better after a difficult day at work?
Chocolate, shopping and cooking like a mad person!
What is your guiding philosophy?
Dream big and don’t let anything stop you!
“Joining the NAWO VIC State Committee has been fantastic – like-minded women working together to discuss like-issues and problems and promote practical change in the drive towards greater gender equity. There is a real sense of fulfilment volunteering and knowing you are helping other women to gain the same advantages I have through NAWO.”
As a new immigrant and a single mum with no local family support, Hiti Taluja’s employment prospects could have been limited… if Hiti wasn’t a passionate ‘can-do’ woman who is not afraid to dream big!
Born and raised in the bustling city of New Delhi, India, Hiti learnt about surviving in a competitive environment at a very early age and benefited from the very best role models. Her first job was at the age of 10, assisting her father in his successful business activities.
“In a country where females are considered home makers, my father always treated us like sons. He instilled in me the importance of always believing in yourself and making it happen.”
“My mother was a strict mathematician. I only had to score well in maths to make her happy!”
Which she did, achieving top marks academically at school and then completing a double degree at university.
Hiti is currently IPL’s Chartering Operations Manager and was acknowledged for her achievements as part of IPL’s International Women’s Day 2016 celebrations. This capped off a year of career highlights, including becoming a member of NAWO’s Victorian State Committee (Sept 2015) and accepting an offer for the position of Education Officer with the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in August 2015.
“I am quite amazed that the Australian shipping industry has formally recognised my talent,” is her modest response.
Hiti’s professional career commenced working for a family-owned management consultancy, PHR Consultant.
In 2002 she gained her first operational role, with India’s Interocean Group of Companies. One of her key contributions was to assist them in gaining ISO 9000 certification for their ship broking and agency division. She then joined their chartering division as a post fixture operator and worked to gain Membership to the Institute Of Chartered Shipbrokers (London).
Hiti’s focus moved to chemicals and fertilisers when she took on the role of Commercial Officer with Mosaic Fertilizer. But it was the quest for better career opportunities that brought Hiti to Australia in 2006.
“To step foot into a global diversified industrial chemicals company headquartered in Australia, with no local experience, was not easy. I started with a Shipping Admin role with Incitec Pivot Limited.”
Her work again saw her inclined towards assisting the operations team, and gradually progressing upwards through different roles.
“With my shipping team support and continuous guidance and empowerment by some wonderful mentors, I was able to achieve my personal goal.”
“Throughout my career I have experienced that being a young woman in a chartering role isn’t an easy ride, but I want to set an example for the future generation to always dream big, let nothing stop you.
“As someone wisely said, ‘Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently’.”
“Coming from a culture where the man as the main bread winner is so entrenched, I don’t know that I would have enjoyed the same opportunities if I had remained in India.”
WHAT LED YOU TO A CAREER IN OPERATIONS?
An operational career wasn’t really planned – I more or less ‘fell’ into my first role. But I really enjoyed the work. I love doing something different every day and problem solving, so it has grown from there.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE UNEXPECTED CHALLENGES YOU HAVE COME ACROSS?
Being a mother is the most inspiring job in the world. And it can also be more challenging than any operational role! That said, getting the work/life balance right can be challenging. I often get phone calls late night due to geographical locations and the nature of the work – problems can arise at any time. I also travel a lot in my role, but it is important to me that I look after my daughter and home and I don’t want to ignore these needs. Fortunately, IPL’s management and commitment to flexible work arrangements have been very important for overcoming this challenge.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OPERATIONAL BUSINESSES SEEKING TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN MORE WOMEN?
A positive approach to flexible work practices starts at the top and it is not just for women.
I have seen a tremendous cultural shift since I started working at IPL 9 years ago. James Fazzino (MD & CEO of the IPL Group) puts in such a genuine effort to making flexible work arrangements a reality. Flexibility is not just for women – it creates a better workplace for everyone. A truly flexible workplace is very empowering because there is no guilt about working where and when it suits. We really need to change the attitude of the whole community around flexibility and also perceptions around working from home.
WHAT ADIVCE WOULD YOU GIVE WOMEN EMBARKING ON A CAREER IN OPERATIONS?
A ‘can-do’ approach is critical. It is a combination of confidence and attitude to life in general. Be prepared to work outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Grasp opportunities and be willing to take risks. Don’t take it for granted that your career can’t progress as far as a man’s. As an immigrant and single mum with very little family support I managed to forge my career. It is possible! Most importantly, set goals and work with passion. You can only get what you dream for if you have the dream and are striving to achieve it!
WHAT IMPACT HAS YOUR NAWO MEMBERSHIP HAD ON YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
Attending QuickBite and Professional Development Events has been great for networking and it is so inspiring to hear that other women are facing the same work issues and scenarios – it is like a sisterhood! They are also incredibly valuable for professional development. IPL has terrific internal training programs, but listening to external people and how different organisations’ approaches and ideas are working is also really helpful.
Joining the NAWO VIC State Committee has been fantastic – like-minded women working together to discuss like-issues and problems and promote practical change in the drive towards greater gender equity. There is a real sense of fulfilment volunteering and knowing you are helping other women to gain the same advantages I have through NAWO.