I’m rushing around as usual this morning in a manner which I guess is familiar to other working parents (“have you got your homework, packed lunch, violin, library book”, “where’s my phone, keys, handbag”, “we’re going to be late, get a move on darlings, find your school shoes, hat” etc). After depositing my gorgeous, dawdling young daughters at school and having one of those “who’s picking up the children, have you paid the utility bills, love you, see you later!” 30 second conversations with my lovely husband,
My darling daughters loving life in Sydney
I breathe a sigh of relief (hurrah, another morning successfully navigated!), sink into my train seat for my commute over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House then immediately turn to check my work emails.
And then I pause.
I realise it is almost International Women’s Day. I take a couple of minutes to look at the official International Womens Day website and I see that #IWD2017 is not only asking us to “call on the masses” but also to “call on yourself” to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world.
While Capgemini Australia is on the ball holding a Women in Data Science event in celebration of #IWD2017, I feel a bit guilty for not doing more. How can I show my support? So, here’s my experience on how #BeBoldForChange works in Capgemini world (boldness is one of our core 7 values after all) and my pledge to make a difference.
I am the Vice President, Head of Legal and Ethics & Compliance Officer for Capgemini Australia and New Zealand. Snappy title, I know. Previously, I was Deputy General Counsel for Capgemini UK and when Isabelle Roux-Chenu, the then Group General Counsel, suggested to me the possibility of a move “Down Under” four years ago even I (being naturally cautious by trade) couldn’t resist the challenge.
In my current role, I manage a team of lawyers and the primary ways in which we support the business are in contractual negotiations, corporate governance and legal trainings. My aim is to embed the legal function at the heart of the business to achieve the right balance between our clients’ needs and Capgemini’s interests. As part of the global network of Ethics & Compliance officers, I also need to be aware of issues involving ethics and business and be available to deal with queries.
I’ve been lucky enough to work under the leadership of some amazing women – thank you Isabelle Roux-Chenu, Christine Hodgson and Jane Bevan. That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of wonderful male leaders around too but it is inspiring to work so closely with dynamic female leaders as it can be easier to relate to their experiences. Between them they’ve demonstrated passion and empathy, shown me how to “cut to the chase”, juggle family and work commitments, be pragmatic and have a lot of fun along the way.
Outside work, I am inspired by women like Baroness Helena Kennedy (she signed my copy of Eve was Framed saying “the law needs good women like you”, not that she knew me but I like to think it is an example of her excellent judgment), the writer Caitlin Moran and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Plus I couldn't go without my daily helpings of the A Mighty Girl blog.
I think that all of us need to lead by example – so I strongly believe in treating everyone the way in which I like to be treated, namely, with respect, integrity, clarity and a smile (even if sometimes it’s through gritted teeth).
I started out in private practice in law in London. With hindsight, I should have switched from my private practice City solicitor job at least two years before I actually made the move to Capgemini. I loved the team I worked with but the hours were unrelenting and I didn’t really like being “one step removed” from the business world as an external lawyer. It was misplaced loyalty and a sense of “better the devil you know” that kept me where I was. The most important lesson it’s taught me is to be bold!
Someone asked me the other day what are my secrets for managing work life balance. Hmm, when I figure it out, I’ll be sure to let you know.
But what I’ve found so far is that it’s really important to be part of a great team – both at home and at work. I think my team here at Capgemini is fantastic and I take pride in shouting out their achievements to anyone who will listen (go Camila, Elinor, Julie, Martina, Shweta and Yogesh!). Also, it’s important to keep a sense of perspective. This is pretty easy for me because when my husband and I compare our respective “bad days at work”, a bad day for him usually involves someone dying (he’s a paramedic)…
Me (dressed as Princess Leia) with Camila (as Marvel’s Jessica Jones) for Capgemini's Christmas "Superhero and Superstars" party
With Julie, Martina and Elinor in our Melbourne office
I recently read "If I Could Tell You Just One Thing" a compilation of advice Richard Reed collected from a host of folks. Bill Clinton’s advice was “one of the most important things is to see people. The person who opens the door for you, the person who pours your coffee. Acknowledge them. Show them respect”.
This struck a chord with me. From respect flows kindness and encouragement, crucial building blocks towards a more gender inclusive world. And I thought, you know what, if we all did this, what a great way to #BeBoldForChange.
I pledge to do my bit. Do you?