“The Balancing Act” WoW Event – 28 October 2019

WoW (Women of Wisdom) events, focused on a particular topic, are a regular feature on our events calendar. The setting is usually dinner in one of our member’s boardrooms with a limited number of attendees to enable conversation and engagement in the chosen topic by all. The event on 28th October focused on maintaining balance in our lives, health and hearts as we navigate the challenges of demanding professional, family and personal lives. The challenge of maintaining balance is the norm for Women Chiefs members and we can all benefit from sharing experiences and reminding each other of the importance of developing practices and attitudes to keep a healthy balance in our professional and personal lives.

A group of 24 amazing women attended this WOW event held in Rhonda White’s boardroom at White Retail Group. The night began with networking over quality wines and canapes, before we were served with an Italian style main meal and salads and a tantalizing dessert tasting plate.

This WOW event, entitled “The Balancing Act” featured three panellists and was facilitated by Christine Flynn:

  • Louise Bezzina, newly appointed and first-ever female Creative Director of the Brisbane Festival
  • Janine Walker AO, Chair and Board Director and an Adjunct Professor in the Griffith Business School. She is a consultant in human resources, employee relations, people and performance and search and recruitment and has had careers in politics and radio.
  • Bridget Totterman, General Manager - Pharmacy of the White Retail Group leading and managing ten pharmacies. She is the sole business owner of an additional three pharmacies
  • Christine Flynn, accredited AICD course facilitator and is the Chairman Elect of Queensland Country Credit Union. She is also an organisational development expert working with national and international clients.

All of our panellists were women with children, working their way through the mine field that is corporate business and striving to balance work, family life and holistic healthy living. A lively discussion was had, with Christine Flynn facilitating an authentic conversation about the different challenges we all face and how together we can achieve anything.

A few anecdotes from panellists and attendees are captured below.

Louise spoke of the use of transparency when negotiating terms of employment and how it is important to address the “elephant in the room” regarding the priority of children and what your prospective employer needs to expect when it comes to family commitments. There is no doubt that we are prepared to pull out all stops to get the job done and to work extraordinary hours and apply intense effort when required, but parenting requires our prioritisation and we need the support of our executive teams and Chairmen to attend school events and be able to tend to their arrangements.

By raising these issues Louise ensured there was no misunderstanding as to what the  Festival  was getting if she was employed to do the job  as she would be their first female in the role – as Janine called it  “the challenge of balance in a world that made no allowances”. There was a comment from Catherine MacMillan that she saw this becoming more the norm written into  work contracts going forward for both males and females.

On the topic of mentors and people who have helped in her career Janine spoke of the difference between mentors (caring supportive) and sponsors (who have skin in the game of your performance and success because they have put you forward).

Rhonda White commented that Advocates fall close to this but she  sees an advocate as  possibly more senior and influential with standing in the community or a particular sphere .

Bridget talked of positivity and gaining confidence from employers who enabled and empowered her and also from ongoing personal study and participation in courses such as the AICD Directors course. She spoke of gaining the confidence through learning and said she was always prepared to ask the silly question (to which most people really want the answer).

Louise was  taken aback when her six-year old son confronted her on the Beyoncé song “Run the World (Girls)”. Bridget agreed and said with three sons she would like to think they would win a job because they were the best candidate rather than  selection being made on the basis of female preference.

There was a discussion on the other hand as to how women can be excluded  by   male board members with, for example, a simple “Let’s go to the pub” and assuming that female board members would not be interested in that activity and thereby were excluded.

Techniques for maintaining  energy and balancing our  health were talked about and a  lively discussion on the merits of Yoga was included  with Robyn Taylor quoting  the Hindu philosophy  “There are many rivers to the sea of God”. This quote speaks to the idea that we all have our own philosophies, attitudes and practices that combine to guide us in the best ways to find the mindfulness, focus and rejuvenation that help us as individuals to keep our balance.

The night was filled with great conversation, excellent facilitation by Christine, a relaxed atmosphere and the lingering feeling that WCEI genuinely is a group of women who are looking out for each other, sharing our successes and struggles.

A great quote of the evening was made by Janine Walker – “I have no regrets… disappointments sure… but it is often those disappointments that have led me to the best opportunities.” – a great motivator for us all to “give it a go anyway!”

Thank you to all the ladies that attended and to Bridget Totterman for organising the catering and logistics – it was an honour to be part of this event.