Super Informed Radio episode #4: Being bold for International Women’s Day
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Rob: Welcome to another edition of Super Informed Radio. My name is Rob.
Lyndon: I'm Lyndon.
Marta: And I'm Marta. And this week is International Women's Day. So all around the world, people are celebrating the achievements and advancement of women, and so are we at UniSuper. In fact, we've got a bit of a corker of an episode lined up, so I hope you enjoy.
We interview with Nicolette Rubinsztein, who is one of our board members here at UniSuper, about her career and what she's learned and some tips and tricks that we hope you guys find useful. And what did you guys get up to?
Rob: Well, Marta, as this is themed for International Women's Day is Be Bold for Change, we decided to speak to a variety of women to ask them if they have been bold in their career. What bold things did they do, what significant changes they made, any risks they took, and how it felt. So it's a pretty insightful chat and you'll be hearing about that soon.
Marta: I'm intrigued.
Lyndon: Shall we jump straight into it then?
Marta: Let's do it. So this year's International Women's Day theme is Be Bold for Change and we're celebrating that this year by sharing our members and our people's inspirational stories to hopefully inspire you, our listeners. I personally love hearing about other women's achievements as it gives me a sounding board or a bit of a benchmark for what I can do to achieve my personal goals.
So with us today, we've got Nicolette Rubinsztein who sits on the board and is a qualified actuary who's also previously held senior positions at Colonial First State, BT Funds Management, and Towers Perrin. So thanks for joining us for this episode of Super Informed Radio. The theme for this year's International Women's Day is Be Bold for Change. So has there been a time in your career so far where you've had to be bold or make a significant change? And how did it feel?
Nicolette: Yes, there is and it was actually quite recently. So just over a year ago, I made the transition out of an executive career and into a non-executive director career. So I left a job that I loved in a company that I loved and I took on a career where I would have to build a portfolio of directorships and I wasn't sure whether I would be offered those positions. And I also took a very big cut in salary as well. So in terms of how that made me feel, incredibly anxious, I would say. But anyway, it's about a year ago now and I'm happy to say that it's gone really well.
Marta: Oh, that's good. So thinking about your career, what's been the most unexpected or interesting thing that you've learned so far?
Nicolette: I think the most unexpected thing is that you have to expect the unexpected. I'll give an example really in terms of your job. One of my jobs evaporated because of an acquisition. Another job that I had disappeared because of a piece of legislative change. And I've also had lots of friends who have been made redundant at some stage along the way. So, you know, there's a lot of uncertainty and you really have to expect the unexpected and I think that resilience is really important in getting through that.
Marta: I agree. It's one of those things as someone who's sort of ...sort of...a couple of years into my career there's one thing that I've realised that I have to sort of be a bit more aware of and I think a lot of our members and people would sort of feel the same. So that's very interesting. So now that you've moved from...into non-executive roles, so as a board member, what do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Nicolette: I read a lot of board papers and do a lot of reading. I still appear to have a lot of meetings, which has really surprised me actually. You know, how busy you can be. I'm very involved, you know, not only with my board positions, but with the Actuaries Institute and also with ASFA, the main superannuation lobby group. So I still sort of...I'm very passionate about the subject of superannuation policy and there's a lot of work going on in the retirement area at the moment. And apart from that also I wrote a book last year that was published in September around...about career mums. It's called Guilty. So I've been doing a lot of sort of presentations to women's group and groups and that sort of thing.
Marta: That knowledge sharing I think is really important not just for women but for everyone. So, yeah, I've had a look at it. It's a great book.
Nicolette: Thank you.
Marta: You're welcome. So what does success mean for you?
Nicolette: I think success is to me inner piece, and it's that feeling of contentment and happiness and it's really as simple as that.
Marta: And so are there any particular women in either your private life or in the public domain that inspire you?
Nicolette: Yes. For me, the women that inspire me are the women that have sort of embraced their femininity and also been successful in their chosen fields. So in my private life, both my mum and my mother-in-law have actually been very successful and, you know, have got families. Both of them they've got three or four children. And in the public arena, it's women like Carolyn Hewson and Quentin Bryce that I think really reflect those attributes.
Marta: I agree. So thinking about your career to date and what you've seen and experienced, is there some sort of significant change that you'd like to see in today's world that might require a bit of dare I say boldness?
Nicolette: Yes, I think there is. In my mind, if both men and women want to enjoy, you know, the benefits of having great careers and also the joys of being parents, I think that huge cultural change is needed in Australian households more so than anywhere else. And in particular, more equal sharing of child-rearing responsibilities and also equal sharing of domestic duties. I think that's a big bold change that is needed.
Marta: I think we're getting there. I hope so anyway. And finally, if you've learned one thing, what would be that one thing you would tell your 15-year-old self?
Nicolette: I think I would have liked some advice that there are sort of sociopaths, narcissists, and sort of people with other sort of psychological disorders that are littered throughout corporate Australia and some of them are in very senior positions. And I think when you first enter their workforce, I mean I, in particular, I think, I was very naïve. And it's difficult to make sense of situations when you, you know, you expect people to act rationally and reasonably. So my advice to myself would be if you end up with someone like that as a boss, get out of there quickly. But, you know, don't try and change the situation or, you know, keep on trying to please a person that is really never going to be happy with what you deliver.
Marta: Some wise words there. So, Nicolette, thank you very much for joining us for this episode of Super Informed Radio. It's been an absolute pleasure having you here.
Nicolette: Thank you, Marta.
Lyndon: Some really interesting insights there from your interview with Nicolette, Marta.
Marta: Yeah. She's an incredibly fascinating woman. I really enjoyed speaking to her, especially that bit where she was talking about, you know, being prepared for the unexpected in your career and having that resilience and during times of change, say, if your company gets made redundant or gets bought out or your job gets made redundant or whatever. That was quite an interesting take out from that because I don't think they teach you that in school. How to prepare if you suddenly are without a job.
Lyndon: And on that theme of unexpected change, as we said earlier, we've done a few interviews with women who have been through change in their career and might have required a bit of boldness. So should we take a listen to that?
Marta: Let's do it.
Female 1: So I guess for me, being bold kind of equated to a big decision that I had to make which involved my career and that was after living in London for around 10 years. I had to make the decision on whether to leave London and leave at quite a successful career over there, and change everything in my life and come home, or whether to stay and really focus on what I was doing in London. And I decided to make the change and come home. And it was a risk. It was a risky decision, but it has certainly worked out because it's meant that I've...I'm now in a position where I'm happy with my home life and family, which was a major consideration in that decision. But also, things have really worked out in my work life as well. So I've got a really good balance between the two.
Female 2: After spending many years in a corporate environment, I decided to make a big change and get into the world of retail fashion. So I set up my own business with partners and I held that for a couple of years before then coming back into superannuation industry. It was very exciting because it was something that I had always had in the back of my mind that I'd like to do one day and experience. And it was quite rewarding. It was also a very hard work and I'm glad that I did it.
Female 3: I came to a path in my career where I would have the opportunity to take a redundancy package and I really felt like it was an opportunity rather than a detrimental situation. And I took that package. I used money wisely, travelled to Europe. When I came back, I thought to myself, "Do I really want to move back into the same industry or do I want to try something new?" So I went to an interview for a completely different industry. I had been in banking and finance and I moved into group insurance. Went for the interview and thought, "I'll give it a shot. It's interview experience if nothing else." Got the job, and it's become a 16-year career for me from that point on. So it was a really huge decision to change careers completely, but I had a fantastic outcome and I really love my role now.
Female 4: There have been two times in my career that I have had to leave a job without another job to go to. I didn't make the decision lightly and it was warranted and it was absolutely for the best. To do it, you need to really be very clear as to why you're doing it and to be clear as to where you want to go. Both times, I was able to find work soon after. I had a mortgage both times. It was a bit of a white-knuckle ride, but the reasons for leaving were so strong that they provided the necessary motivation to find a better outcome and that did happen.
I think if you are clear on what you want to achieve, on how you deserve to be treated, and where you want to go, following those gut instincts, checking in with yourself regularly is so important. And in being bold, it doesn't always make a lot of logical sense, but it's made a lot of emotional sense. It's led me to really fantastic outcomes, even though the path may have been quite windy.
Female 5: I think the biggest one that stands out for me is definitely when I decided to make a career change, well, a career plan. I had come out of four years of studying events and business, and I decided that I was going to try and work in the industry and potentially then start my own business in wedding planning. That kind of didn't really eventuate and I sort of couldn't break into the market. So I had to make a decision of changing careers. I actually just stumbled across a role within the superannuation industry and thought, "Okay, I need to now make this decision and make it for me." So it was a huge change. It's definitely a massive different industry. I didn't see myself doing it, but at the same time now nine years on, I couldn't think of doing anything else. At the time, I mean, in terms of how it made me feel, I was scared. Was I making the right decision? My passion was lying within events and weddings and whatnot. And I thought, "Is this a change that I want to make?" But I did. I mean I could have sat there and thought, "No, I'll just go with what's comfortable and go back into retail," or, you know, just wait to see what happens, but I thought, no, I need to make this change. I need to do it. I need to trust the skills that I do have and what I could offer. And I went with it and I've never looked back.
Rob: So there you have it. Some very interesting insights from ordinary working women sharing their stories about being bold in their careers. And that brings us to the end of another installment of Super Informed Radio. If you have any questions or you'd like more information about anything you've heard today, you can email us at email@example.com.
Marta: And if you want to listen to any of our past episodes, go to unisuper.com.au/podcasts and join the conversation for International Women's Day following the hashtag #beboldforchange.
Lyndon: And we'll see you next time.
Marta: See you later.