Tuesday, March 19, 2013

“Where to Now?” 4th Women on Boards conference: CareerMums Q&A profile

Today, we are profiling Nicki Bowman who is an experienced non-executive director. Nicki is currently chairman of the audit committee for an ASX300 listed mining company Blackthorn Resources Limited, and deputy chairman of a sporting not-for-profit organisation, Football South Coast Limited.

Holding degrees in Economics and Law (with honours) from the University of Sydney, she began her career as a corporate lawyer in a top 10 legal firm. A desire for close involvement in the commercial decision-making process saw her move to in-house roles at BHP and BlueScope Steel, and she then successfully transitioned to executive roles, first in BlueScope and then in the financial services industry. Since 2008 she has pursued a career as a non-executive director, with particular focus on strategy and governance.

Nicki is committed to encouraging and mentoring other women, and to examining and unraveling the cultural and behavioural biases that can often conspire to impede job satisfaction and advancement.

Nicki is also a valued mentor for Women on Boards. 

What do you do? 
I am a professional non-executive director

How old are your children? 
One child, 4 years old.

What do you love about your job? 
The ability to create and drive the strategy of an entire company.

Did you always have the intention of progressing your career after having your children? 
Yes, it never occurred to me that I would not.

It takes a village to raise a family. Who helps you to manage work and family? 
Definitely a village! A great child care centre, supportive husband, several baby-sitters, my parents.

When you come home each day, are you good at switching off from work? 
Yes and no. I tend to always have ideas rushing through my head, whether work or home related,  so it’s hard for me to “switch off”.

Every parent should have a selfish pursuit or ‘not-negotiable’ that provides them with an opportunity to relax and re-charge their batteries every week. What is your ‘not-negotiable’? 
Monthly remedial massage is crucial! On a smaller level, now that my daughter is a little older I can usually manage a morning cup of tea and quick scan of the paper while she watches cartoons!

Have there been some difficult moments in your career with young children? What were they? 
Yes! Apart from general dramas arising from kiddie illness or last-minute cancellation by child minders, there is a constant juggling process – teleconferences making prodigious use of mute button to mask toddler sounds, late pick-ups at child care due to long meetings and bad traffic, “Murphy’s Law” of critical meetings and commitments taking place on days which are not ordinarily days when my child is in pre-school…it goes on!

 What advice would you give to parents who are about to return to work and resume their careers? 
Flexibility of both partners is the key. It is NOT always the woman’s job to “solve” the childcare “problem” (even those terms are perjogative). If there is a genuine commitment to share parenting load, and a solid network of child care alternatives, then this will relieve many of the stresses and dramas which can be a huge disincentive to continue working. Think hard about your work and financial arrangements – lengthy commutes make flexibility in childcare much more complex. Having massive financial commitments adds to stress – really think about whether there are alternatives to your location/size of house/lifestyle. It is not always possible, but often we are sucked into a certain pattern of living without really interrogating what it means to us in terms of overall lifestyle.

What support measures should employers be offering to working parents? 
Employers should, where possible, focus on output and value, not “bums on seats”. Time, and flexibility of time, are huge issues for parents, and the “punch-clock” mentality of many employers is inappropriate in the modern age. There are many jobs that can be done remotely, job-shared, completed in less than the traditional 40 hrs/week, done in staggered shifts etc.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just want to mention that there is a typo in the interview text: perjogative should be pejorative