Being curious is a superpower of all great leaders. We’re all born with it, but somewhere along the way, we often lose it. Curiosity is fundamental to expanding your mind, your work, and your leadership. For Irene Ragel it is her most valuable asset. Irene is a self-described “Filipino-Australian Queer Geek”, who also happens to be the Associate Director of Digital Technology Quality at CSL Australia – a leading global biotechnology company. As part of CSL Career Files series presented by Business Chicks, Irene sat down with Business Chicks’ Rebecca Bodman, to share her valuable insights.
You’ve worked in many different areas and experienced great career progression over the years, what do you think contributed to this growth?
I think being curious and just throwing my hat into the ring made a big difference. I started talking to people and thinking deeply about different things. I think that is the sort of curiosity which I carry through both my personal and professional life. I need to be curious at work because if I am bored, I am not a good Irene. I need to be engaged. I think that is what really drove me to have conversations, make connections, discover other people and areas.
What factors would you say have contributed to your career success?
I think being curious and being daring has contributed greatly to my success. I think a lot of women hold themselves back if they don’t fit an exact role. Be open to new possibilities. Keep your eyes open for opportunities.
What challenges have you experienced throughout your career?
Many years ago, my industry was largely male-dominated, and I had management consistently look over me for higher duties. This was very demotivational, but I recognised that my working wealth was bigger than that management, bigger than that department. I let this challenge propel me and push me out of my nest. Seeing this problem differently, opened up my eyes to new opportunities. Sometimes having faith in oneself is all the support you need.
What barriers do you think women in leadership still face today? How have you navigated this yourself?
I think there are two major components. The first is when women are not in executive leadership roles, other women do not have role models. Having women in leadership is vital so that other women can identify their own potential. The second is when there are more men than women in a workplace, sometimes women don’t have as easy access to the male comradery. Women lack access to the conversation, information, the people making the decisions. I have taught myself to deal with these barriers by pushing myself forward and being comfortable with the unknown. It’s important to talk to the people that intimidate you and get good at building the relationships.
How have you developed as a leader and an influencer throughout your career?
Early in my leadership I was just eager to fix, I believed I knew what my team needed and how to fix it. But sometimes people just need you to listen or provide enough hints so that they can fix it themselves. Now I look at my leadership style as more approachable and collaborative. I really like to share knowledge and experiences, which building rapport with different people throughout different areas of the business. It is about listening and empowering, the relationships are most important.
What is your favourite part of being a leader?
My favourite parts of being a leader are creating a team and empowering people. Seeing people grow gives me the greatest pleasure. When you see that light switch on, when they see their own potential and realise, they are flying on their own. It lights them up, it lights me up, I think it is all awesome.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of career advice what would it be?
I would say stop playing it safe and just go for it. There were many times when I help myself back through my own stories and limitations. Just go for it. You are the greatest limit to your own potential.
CSL Behring Australia and New Zealand is a leading biotech company responsible for providing life-saving medicines in more than 70 nations. CSL has been doing life-changing work since 1916, and the company’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and empowering women makes them a perfect partner for Business Chicks. Find out more about CSL here.