Top 10 Lessons: Working in Business
Empowering Old Girls
As a newcomer to the corporate world, tapping into our Old Girl network has proven invaluable. I have been able to gain insights and wisdom from their unique experiences as I navigate the dynamic landscape of business.
Through conversations with these successful women, I have gathered 10 lessons about their experiences in the business world. These lessons shed light on their triumphs, struggles, and the transformative power of determination and self-advocacy.
|1) Be Your Own Advocate|
To thrive in the business world, it is crucial to advocate for yourself. Recognise your worth and confidently communicate your value to the organisation. Ensure that decision-makers are aware of your unique contributions and the impact you bring to the table. Additionally, aligning yourself to people within your organisation that would advocate for you is important. As it adds weight and gravitas to your own advocacy when going solo might fall short.
|2) Celebrate Small Wins|
Celebrating small victories along the way creates a positive atmosphere of support, encouragement, and camaraderie. It fosters a sense of unity among team members and cultivates a shared belief in each other’s capabilities and success. By acknowledging and celebrating the small wins, create an environment where everyone feels valued and motivated to continue their pursuit of excellence.
|3) Navigating Maternity Leave|
The transition to maternity leave can be challenging, however, as organisations evolve, there are more positive experiences of increased support from businesses and colleagues.
Initially, many of the Old Girls expressed a sense of anxiousness around the career impact of maternity leave. As maternity leave became closer and closer, the anxiousness shifted towards how they would effectively transition back to work life. Consequently, the Old Girls noted that finding support systems from their employer eased their concerns; utilising parent support groups and dedicated return-to-work programs created a sense of belonging, reduced feelings of isolation, and provided reassurance around shared experience. Although not everyone had access to these initiatives, these examples raised consistent themes around seeking out common experiences and networks that alleviated challenges faced during the transition back to work.
|4) Building Networks and Gaining Diverse Experiences|
One common theme among successful women is the importance of building networks and gaining diverse experiences. Actively seek opportunities to meet new people, both personally and professionally, as these connections can broaden your horizons and open doors to exciting possibilities. In particular, travel for work and secondments were valuable avenues all Old Girls mentioned that enabled them to gain diverse experiences and expand their professional network. By actively seeking out these experiences, they noted how they were better able to demonstrate their adaptability, willingness to learn and ability to navigate new environments – all of which greatly enhanced their professional development and contributed to future opportunities.
|5) Gender Equality: A Work in Progress|
While gender equality remains an ongoing battle, women in business have experienced a shift towards a more inclusive and supportive environment. Although certain industries remain male-dominated, women now have access to support networks and allies who can help them navigate challenges and overcome barriers.
“By lifting each other up, we create a supportive network that encourages growth, fosters collaboration, and drives positive change.”
|6) Support other women|
By lifting each other up, we create a supportive network that encourages growth, fosters collaboration, and drives positive change. Whether it’s through mentorship, advocating for equal opportunities, or simply offering a listening ear, supporting other women is crucial in breaking down barriers. When we come together to celebrate each other’s successes, share knowledge and resources, and provide a safe space for open dialogue, we create a stronger and more inclusive environment where all women can thrive.
|7) Challenge Yourself|
High-achieving women often seek diversity and variety in their work. They actively pursue new challenges and opportunities or explore alternative avenues for growth. Embracing change and continuous learning is key to staying engaged and fulfilled.
|8) The Role of Education in Confidence and Voice|
These accomplished women attribute their confidence and ability to voice opinions to their educational experiences. Schools provide a platform for developing a strong sense of self and cultivating the belief that their opinions matter. School plays a vital role in preparing individuals to navigate their careers with confidence.
|9) Tackling Imposter Syndrome|
Imposter syndrome is a common challenge that many women face. However, it is essential to embrace the unknown and be comfortable with discomfort. Recognise that it is okay to not have all the answers and focus on personal and professional growth by stepping outside your comfort zone.
|10) Seizing Opportunities and Setting Boundaries|
Approach each opportunity with an open mind and a willingness to take on new challenges. However, it’s equally important to set clear boundaries and prioritise a healthy work-life balance. Establishing these boundaries fosters productivity and ensures overall wellbeing.
In the journeys of these extraordinary women in business, we find valuable insights that highlight the importance of celebrating the small wins, seizing opportunities, and setting boundaries.
I extend my gratitude to these Old Girls for graciously sparing their time to meet with me. It was an amazing opportunity to gain insights from their firsthand experiences, and it fills me with immense pride to be able to identify myself as a St Catherine’s Old Girl.
Their willingness to share their stories has deepened my appreciation for the strong bonds and sense of community that exist among us.
|MEET OUR EXPERTS|
Christa Ray (Block ’03): Since graduating St Catherine’s in 1990, Christa has worked at PwC for 15 years and is currently a Partner in the Corporate Consulting Team. Her primary role involves assisting clients in implementing intricate transformations and programs, emphasising the delivery of outcomes and value.
Throughout Christa’s career, she has gained experience in various locations, including Melbourne, Perth, and London. Christa has also recently returned to Melbourne, where she resides with their husband and two young boys, aged 4 and 18 months.
Katrina Blair (Middleton ’90): After completing School in 1990, Katrina studied a Bachelor of Commerce at Monash University, majoring in Accounting. Further studies include a Graduate Diploma in Arts (Tourism Marketing), in addition, Katrina is a Certified Practising Accountant with CPA Australia, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Katrina has worked in finance roles in a number of industries across Australia, Canada, and the UK. She is currently Chief Financial Officer at Tennis Australia. Katrina is married with two children, often splitting their time between Melbourne and their cattle farm in southwest Victoria.
Anna Bathrick (Collicoat ’92): After graduating from St Catherine’s School in 1992 Anna transitioned from St Catherine’s to an almost all boys’ university segment where she completed a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) / Bachelor of Business at RMIT University. Following this, Anna completed an internship at BP Australia Ltd which led to a 10-year career journey of multiple cross functional assignments including bringing her to Chicago, where she has lived for the past 20 years. Anna joined PepsiCo in 2008 and has had a variety of commercial roles, with her current role working as VPGM of Operations. Anna sits on the board of Junior Achievement, helping support the education of those in need across Chicago and is a huge advocate of supporting women in business. Anna is married and has two children with their two dogs and a cat.