What career or life advice would you give your younger self?
The lesson learned – believe in yourself above all else and take the time to care about people you work with. Why? I started work in 1969 in a male-dominated/chauvinistic working world. These were quite intimidating days for a young teenage female and I often doubted myself and my abilities. This type of workplace environment extended into the 1980s and early 1990s. One day after a harrowing 12-hour night shift I decided on a whim that was life-changing to return to school and complete grade 12 at the age of 36. Happily I achieved an amazing TE score of 975 (990 the highest). Three degrees and an amazingly eclectic career path followed as did an epiphany of sorts. I realised that I didn’t have to doubt my skills and contributions to the workplace and work teams as a caring female.
Do you/did you have a career mentor? (if so, did you choose somebody, or was there someone inspirational who happened accidentally along the way?)
I owe a great debt to my late husband for his encouragement, support and belief in my abilities even when I had my head buried in the sand. Along the way I have met some amazing strong women who have succeeded against all odds in the workplace and continue to be an inspiration. But it has been the people that I aspire most not to be (the workplace bullies, the power players and so on) who have been the impetus to shape my work ethic and values.
Why did you choose this path? (Did it choose you? Is this where you always expected to end up?)
Chance, fate and coincidence have been my career-path companions. When I started in the public service in 1969, by chance the HR person pointed me out in a group of new employees and said I would work in Computer Branch, Main Roads. From my humble beginnings as a filing clerk fate led me along a 25-year career as a mainframe operator in government and the private sector. A chance hasty read of the paper at the dentists after night shift led to an advertisement for adult education. An amazing eight-year education journey followed. Then a chance meeting at the shops led to an interview at university and six-year job as a senior researcher. Fate then intervened following the passing of my husband in the form of one of his work colleagues encouraging me to apply for a contract in government, ironically back at Main Roads some 30 years later. This led to an 11-year journey that culminated in many senior roles including managing a corporate communications team and having the privilege of mentoring some amazing young people .I now work from home researching and writing for various clients. It’s been an amazing ride and I am so grateful for the journey, bumps and all.
What tips do you have for handling workplace stress and pressure?
Being able to identify work environment stress in others and myself (being irritable, demotivated, corridor whispers, trouble concentrating and so on) and taking positive action to ensure the physical and mental well-being of myself and the team. Understand that you can only be responsible for your own reaction to stress in the workplace. Time-out periods have always helped me to gather my thoughts (such as leaving the desk to take a walk around the block, finding a trusted peer to talk to). Prioritising tasks, learning to say ‘no’ to unreasonable requests, breaking down tasks into manageable components, delegating responsibility and being willing to compromise all help as well. As a team leader it’s been important to get a grip on my self-control and confidence to communicate more effectively with team members, overcome differences and diffuse stress and conflict.
As a boss, what was your favourite question to ask at interview?
How would your current employer describe you and your contributions to the workplace?
Professionally what excites and scares you about the future?
I worry about the opportunities that people will have to experience a fulfilling career. For people starting out they will need to predict future job trends and continue to hone their education and skills toward these. For older people, their wealth of skills and experiences are an asset to any organisation but many remain undervalued and are ‘put out to pasture’. There is a role for young and old alike in the workplace and I hope that the future workforce puts everyone on an equal footing.
What is the single biggest change you have seen in the Brisbane job market?
Brisbane is the place to be for jobs in Queensland with its job growth increasing at twice the rate of population growth. The job market is healthy but tight. Jobs for life are a thing of the past as is thinking job security is a right. Having reinvented myself at least four times career-wise, I see this as par for the course for job seekers.
Which three people (alive or otherwise) would you invite to your ultimate dinner party?
Phyllis Diller for the laughs, Robert Plant for the music (with Stevie Nicks a close second) and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki for his amazing way of explaining the way the world and beyond works.
Since you are a culinary Queen, what’s a must have on the menu at a dinner party?
While I love to cook for people, I would have a fondue dinner get-together so people can sit around the table and cook their own meal while the conversation flows. Lots of good wine too of course! A fondue would mean I wouldn’t miss a minute of the table banter.
What hot tip do you have for enjoying Brisbane/Queensland
Go explore the suburbs old and new. Brisbane has so many hidden treasures.