What women at the top of their field want you to know

What women at the top of their field want you to know

The advice that’s stayed with us from our recent Career Files series

BY Business Chicks, 11 min READ

Thanks to our friends at Open Universities Australia

All of us have those people whose careers we look at and think, ‘wow, I’d like to be there one day!’

In our recent five-part Career Files series (thanks to our friends at Open Universities Australia) we sat down with the brilliant women running the Brand, Marketing, People & Culture, Content, and Executive functions within some of the most successful Australian and international companies.

If you missed out, don’t despair (just register next time, okay!) Here’s the one thing they want you to know.


Marketers reveal how to stand out in a crowded job market

Jee Moon, Vice President, Marketing, American Express

“Insatiable curiosity. Someone who leans in, asks deeper questions, and has a level of courage to ask questions in a constructive way and challenge convention. And commerciality. Marketers often get swayed by the big shiny new thing without linking it back to the commerciality.”

Aisling Finch, Director of Marketing, Google Australia & New Zealand

“My favourite interview question is to describe a time where they failed and what they learned from it. I’m looking for general learning mindset and humility about what they learned along the way, rather than development aspirations and weaknesses that are actually strengths. I think it’s a lead indicator for how someone will grow. A candidate is never going to tick all of the boxes, but if they have that as an opener, you know they’ll go far.”

Catherine Reynolds, Chief Marketing Officer, Open Universities Australia

“Relentless empathetic and curiosity for the customer. Connection to values to our purpose-driven organisation. You can’t fake it, so don’t say it if you don’t mean it. When you really connect to that purpose, you stand out as a candidate and find so much fulfilment in the role.”


What People & Culture leads look for when hiring HR professionals

Dr Andrea Douglas, Senior Vice President, Organisation Transformation, CSL Limited

“Diversity of thought and background are a gold mine. Balanced with a sound, data-driven and rationale (rather than emotional) approach to dealing people and situations. As well as passion, energy and answering with ‘we’, not ‘I’. When you ask someone to describe what they’ve done before, you get a sense for how they think about team and others.”

Joanne Chin, Chief People Officer, The Kraft Heinz Company

“The ability to listen deeply to people. The role of HR is often not to make the call, but to help leaders get to the right decision by providing them with information or asking them questions to provoke their thinking and get them to the right decision. You need the ability to lean into really difficult conversations and be candid. Avoiding those can prevent the business, a team or a leader from moving forward.”

“The other thing I look for is smarts – general cognitive ability. The ability to take a problem, pull it apart, and simplify. Learning agility. I hire for people that I can envisage in a lot of different roles. Some with curiosity and the desire to learn.”

Lisa Miller, Founder, Team & Work, previously at Canva

“The ability to know what the business does, and connect people, units and functions across the business so you can spot the blockers, what helps them to do their jobs, and how you can move people around to develop their career.”

“Curiosity and energy around learning and developing. The ability to listen and show appropriate vulnerability (opposed to steering away from challenging moments). The ability to collaborate, and of course enthusiasm for the company, their product and their values. Often the hire won’t remain in that role.”

Content creators on that elusive work life balance

Gemma Fordham, Head of Content, Hit Network

“In my leadership roles, work life balance has not been optional, it’s been a necessity as a parent. I reflect on my younger years, when I would put in the long hours (from 4am to 6pm as a breakfast radio producer) and I now question it. I wanted to show I had work ethic, but was it me being a smart and efficient worker? I just did it because everyone else did. Now I don’t advise anyone to live their life like that. No one can perform at their best when they’re spending all of their time on work. I just don’t think you can bring your best self forward. I would really encourage everyone to have work life balance.”

Lucie McGeoch, Supervising Producer, The Morning Show

“(When working hard) there’s a cost to your health and relationships. You can walk around with a badge of honour that you work hard, but a mark of a successful person isn’t just killing it at work. You need to keep the rest of your life going to be good at your job.”


One piece of advice for aspiring brand leads

Michelle Battersby, CMO, Keep it Cleaner 

“Integrity, hustle, try hard. Hunt to find what your passion is. Go to events, network, read, try and think of ideas and get feedback from others.”

Audrey Nania, General Manager of Merchandise & Operations, DECJUBA

“Just be you. Don’t try and be someone else. Back yourself in, don’t set yourself a bar, just keep aiming and achieving whatever is possible.”

Carolyn Bollaci, Head of Media, Facebook  

“I didn’t want my career to overshadow my aspirations of seeing the world. Pick where you want to live and what experiences you want to have, and then pick the right job and the right experience will come to you as a result of it. Facebook looks for those people with the X Factor, people who are multi-dimensional and can add something unique to the organisation. Being authentic to myself and having a range of experiences got me to where I am today.”

“A lot of women (in 2020) are second guessing themselves, less confident in their ability when working remotely. So now more than ever, back yourself. Get your hands dirty, listen, and be there for people. If you’re seen as someone who is reliable, people will want you around.”

Mel Carrero, Marketing Manager, Spell & The Gypsy Collective

“Hustle, hustle, hustle! You can hustle your way anywhere. Put all of yourself into any job you do. The dream job is 15 years in the making. It’s not just about that end goal and where you want to get to, it’s about the job you are doing today.”


How to carve your own path to Executive level

Shamini RajarethnamCEO, RATIONALE

“You’re the only person responsible for your personal growth and development. You have to lean in, be resilient, be confident in your abilities and surround yourself with good people. Always be kind, it goes a long way. Take control of your own destiny, don’t leave it in the hands of your manager.”

Nicole Sparshott, CEO, Unilever Australia & New Zealand and Global CEO, T2 Tea

“When you’re skating on thin ice, you may as well tap dance. Dream big, work smart and hold things lightly. Have some fun with it as well. Do what you think you should do and throw your heart into it.”

Lisa Harrison, CEO Insurance Product & Portfolio, Suncorp

“Have a development plan and remember it’s yours. If you treat it like it’s your bosses problem, you’ve lost control. Be brave, have fun and follow a path you’re passionate about, you’ll always do it better.”

And parting words from our very own CEO, Olivia Ruello

“A lot of women make decisions based on what other people think they’re good at, versus what they actually want to do. So really think about where you want to be and apply for the jobs. Put your hand up, pitch for jobs. Do not wait to be tapped on the shoulder.”


Upskill for your future with Open Universities Australia. Explore thousands of online courses from leading Australian universities, all in one place. Choose from a range of short courses or full degrees to suit your lifestyle and career goals. As a not-for-profit, their expert student advisors provide unbiased guidance to help you find the right course for you. Explore your options at open.edu.au or call 13 OPEN.


©2020 Business Chicks

Log in

Forgot your password?