The year that was: Celebrating 2018 for Women & Leadership Australia and New Zealand.

This year was a really big one for Women & Leadership Australia and New Zealand. We had events in Auckland and Christchurch, and over in Aus we ran the #100daysforchange campaign. It has been a big year for Women & Leadership!

Some of the key takeaways from the latest report on how women interact with the workplace.

A new report by McKinsey & Company and Lean In has uncovered that there has been little improvement for women in the workplace. However, they also make some great recommendations about what workplaces can do to fix the status quo

The Leadership Interviews: Kathryn Crofts, Founding Board Member of Road Sense Australia

We interview Kathryn Crofts, one of our ALP Alumni, about her experiences as a leader, what she learnt and her advice for aspiring leaders.

Can the words caregiver and ambitious be in the same sentence?

Professor Jan Thomas takes a look at how society can move away from tacit assumptions about caring and ambition to champion diversity for all.

Laura Maxwell

Laura Maxwell's career journey​

Laura Maxwell is Chief Commercial Officer at NZME. She has over 20 years of experience in media and is also currently serving as a Chair of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a Director of the Newspapers Publishers Association and a board member of the Radio Bureau. Laura will be speaking at the upcoming NZME New Zealand Women’s Leadership Symposium so we sat down with her to discuss her career journey.Tell us about your career to date?After completing a BA at Otago University I began a fantastic OE that ended up lasting….much longer than planned! I did get to experience working in a range of industries, improved my skiing and to my father’s relief, started my first ‘real job’ in sales and marketing at the University of Canberra, at 26 years of age. Given the commute was sensational, I also completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing while I was there.I have worked in small businesses where I have rolled my sleeves up and been involved both along and across the business. This taught me so much and gave me experience in manufacturing, importing, exporting, retailing, packaging, pricing, negotiation, marketing, advertising, sales and finance. Once I joined larger organisations (where your role is more defined), I then had the confidence to challenge and add value to areas ‘outside my remit’. I have been within the media business since 2001 and still love the pace, the brands and how we connect with Kiwis. For me, being in an informal, creative and fast-paced environment suits my ethos of taking the role seriously but having a good time too.What have been some highlights (and low lights!) in your career?Highlights for me have been working with slick, global brands where I got to experience planning, strategy and execution at a level that was simply top notch and at a scale larger than we have in New Zealand. These include working alongside big brands and organisations like Team New Zealand, Louis Vuitton, the America’s Cup, the All Blacks, and the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. Working for a business and creating commercial success in a short window, such as for an event, was a steep learning curve for me. For the America’s Cup programme we developed, branded, packaged, retailed, marketed and sold over 90 new products specific to the event with every step of the chain needing approval from the event brand owners. And we hit our targets!  One of the biggest career challenges for me was when I was leading Yahoo!NZ and the Xtra email issue arose. I would not call it a lowlight (although being on conference calls to the States every hour throughout the night seemed like a lowlight at the time!) as it was a great learning experience.  I have used the skills learned during that episode again and again.You are recognised as a leader in your field. What advice would you give other women who aspire to this?Plan where you want to go and create a pathway to get there. Be honest with what your gaps are and improve them. Find businesses where you can make a difference, that excite you and where you ‘fit‘. If you rate a particular leader, then either get a job with them or see if they will mentor you.Choose your battles and understand the impact of your decisions on the business, the brand and other people within the business.Outside your business, give your time to contribute to the betterment of your industry – this will also raise your profile. What groups are there you can join? What initiatives can you develop and lead that will improve the business ecosystem for the industry?What do you think are the most important strengths/skills women need in the workforce now and in the future?The same skills any person needs to be successful. I do not see the key strengths/skills as being different for women. Own your ideas, speak up and add value. However, if you want to position yourself for an executive role, do not volunteer to take notes in meetings or organise the coffee or bring in the baking.When negotiating your remuneration, show how you add value to the business and know what the market rates are for your role. Make sure you have a list of the achievements in the previous year and what your plans are to move the business forward. Take the emotion out of it. The business is not hiring you. They are hiring what you bring to the company.We all know how important networking is. What is your networking strategy?I like talking to interesting people who can see new ways of solving challenges. I seek out people who may have similar challenges to me and share ideas with them. I do not believe it is a numbers game. I would rather have fewer good people that I can call than have the largest list of people.What do you think the biggest challenge facing females in the corporate world, and females in business more generally, at the moment?Confidence. This is the biggest difference I see between men and women in a work environment. I thought it was a Kiwi thing, but I think it is more of women underestimating what they bring to the table. Find the forums to accelerate your worth to the business. If you are delivering value and your employer is not valuing it, then ask for feedback and do not be afraid of what you hear. Then you can decide if there are changes you need to make at work or if the current business is not one that will fulfil your goals and instead find a new one.Would you like to hear Laura Maxwell and other inspirational speakers share their journeys and leadership advice? Join us at the NZME New Zealand Women’s Leadership Symposium from 21-22 June at the Langham Hotel in Auckland. To secure your seat at this phenomenal event, register now.  

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The leadership interviews: Kathryn Crofts​, founding board member of road sense Australia.

Kathryn Crofts

Here at Women & Leadership New Zealand, we are all about supporting female leadership. We have so many incredible women come and take leadership courses with us, to develop themselves as leaders in the workplace and their communities.

In this series of blog posts, we go behind the scenes with some of these women about the courses they completed, their insights and what they think we should all be doing to step up and be better leaders.

Today, we chatted with Kathryn Crofts, Board Secretary and Non-Executive Director of Road Sense Australia, who has completed the Advanced Leadership Program (ALP).

Can you tell me a little bit about why you wanted to do a leadership course?

“I had actually been looking for a leadership course for quite some time. I did a course with University of Queensland and absolutely loved it. It was a bit of a taster and I thought ‘I’m ready to do something else.’

“I wanted to do my MBA but it wasn’t the right time. When this one came up at WLNZ it ticked all the right boxes and I thought ‘why not?’ I enjoy learning new things and the peer network and coaching was something that piqued my interest."

What did you learn about yourself as a leader and as a person while you were doing this course?

“To be honest, some of the work we did as we progressed through the course was quite confronting. I thought it would be quite theory based, like what you would expect at university, so I thought ‘this will be fine’.

“However, when it came to some of the face-to-face sessions it was quite personal. We deep dived into who we really are as a person and what our values are. A surprising topic, but so incredibly relevant. There were times I thought ‘oh my gosh, this is really, really hard’ and I wasn’t alone in the room thinking that.  

“I think everyone thought ‘wow, this is quite confronting,’ but it was actually really good because everyone in the group was honest and really open to getting the most out of the experience and the journey. Even though it was quite tough, we learnt so much about ourselves and who we are, so we can be better individuals and better leaders as well.”

What did you learn and what have you put into practice?

“We covered a lot in the program. In particular, for me, was a lot of reflecting in taking that ‘balcony view’ approach, looking at the bigger picture, and seeing things from other people’s perspectives. I think having the understanding to step back in some situations and look around is really beneficial.

“I was also amongst an incredibly talented, inspiring and remarkable group of women. Some of which I would give my right arm to possess some of their leadership traits. On the first day we all walked into that room uncertain with what to expect or what we could offer, and yet we all walked away empowered and energised.”

What would your advice be to someone who wants to boost their leadership skills in the workplace?

“If you want to build on your leadership skills then I think you should do a course like this. A big part of the course is networking with the group you’re with and that has been beneficial as well. I’m part of lean in circles, networking groups and mentoring programs, but the WLNZ program provided a different platform where everyone could equally grow, develop and support each other.

“Reflecting on my cohort in particular - we all just clicked, and it was just an open, honest space where we could all support each other and grow. Having a career coach and a peer coach was pivotal in my learning journey, too. I haven’t experienced anything like it. It was really unique and I would encourage anyone considering it to just bite the bullet, put your hand up and go for it. Education is the best investment for yourself.”

Anything else you would like to add?

“It is worth mentioning that it doesn’t finish at the end of the course. The relationships that you establish in the twelve-month period will last you for as long as you want them to.

“On the last day of the course, we made commitments to ourselves and to each other to do something different that would help us with our professional and personal development. We agreed to support each other by being accountable to each other as a way of encouragement to follow through with what we promised to do.

“To this day, we are still supporting each other and continuing the journey through connecting regularly via webinars, social media and face-to-face meetings. Once you form your sisterhood it’s not something you want to let go of – we all need our promoter group.”

 

About Kathryn:

Kathryn is a founding Board member of Road Sense Australia and has been Board Secretary since 2015.

A specialist in media and communications, Kathryn currently manages the external and internal communications function for CHEP.  As part of the Strategy and Marketing team, she is responsible for PR and customer communications, media, advertising, sponsorship, events, graphic design and all internal communication for the Asia Pacific business. In addition she is a Justice of the Peace and First Aid Officer in the workplace.

Kathryn also runs a private consultancy that provides communications and design expertise to small and large businesses in the areas of copywriting, graphic design, social media strategy and execution, crisis communications, media relations and public relations. You can find out more about her here

Kathryn Crofts

 

Find out more about the ALP.

 

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