My parents instilled a work ethic in me from a very young age. They invested a lot in my education and they supported me getting my first job, which was in the early ‘90s when jobs were scarce. My husband has been a huge sounding board over the years, and he also helps in rearing our three young kids, which is very important—that means I can do the job that I do.
In work I’ve been very fortunate to have lots of mentors, lots of role models. With all that support, I didn’t really see gender equality as a challenge or an issue. When I started working, it didn’t seem important to me. My career progressed very quickly. When I got to senior manager, I was probably the only female. Every meeting I’d go into would be me and lots of men. Even then, I didn’t see gender equality as an issue.
It was only when more females started to join the team that I realized the dynamic was starting to change. Men and women think very differently. They approach problems in very different ways. With more women, the dynamics and interactions in meetings changed. As a result, I grew in confidence. I knew my voice would be listened to. That’s when I really started to step up as a leader.
I know from experience that when you’re a minority group, it is more difficult to advance. But if you put the right support structures in place, if you give them a mentor and access to role models, then anybody and everybody can reach their full potential.