Celebrating International Women’s Day: Leonie Wise

Today we chat to our Director of Product Leonie, to hear about her journey so far and her take on this year's theme for International Women's Day.

Monday marked International Women’s Day – a day which celebrates the many triumphs of women and our ongoing journey towards gender parity. However, it is also a day to acknowledge the gaps we still have in equality, and encourages us to take action in whichever ways we can. This year’s theme, #ChooseToChallenge, is all about challenging ourselves to do better and aim higher.

Diversity and equality are integral to our culture at First AML – we love celebrating all walks of life and showcasing the amazing talent we have here that’s helping drive our company forward. We speak to some of the incredible women in our business about what IWD means to them.

Today we chat to our Director of Product Leonie, to hear about her journey so far and her take on this year’s theme.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing?
Somewhat accidentally. I’ve had a pretty squiggly career up to now. I’ve been an Office Manager, the Assistant Manager of a retail store, the Operations Manager of a recruitment company, a Technical Writer, a Property Investor, a Project Manager and more! I tend to search for opportunities that stretch me in some way; either by working in a new industry or taking on roles that I’m not 100% sure I can do. My journey into Product Management began with my husband loving his job and coming home to tell me about it. I happened to be looking for work at the time and it turned out that the company he worked for was looking for a Product Analyst (Associate Product Manager). I applied and was accepted for the role because someone was willing to take a chance on me. I discovered that I’m pretty good at Product Management and that all of the roles in all of the industries I’d had leading up to this one have in some ways helped me grow into the position that I have now.

What motivates you to go to work everyday?
Being able to discover and solve real customer problems, and also being able to experience the impact that has in their life. Another key motivator for me is a supportive and encouraging work environment, and access to opportunities for learning and growth.

What importance do you place on gender diversity in workplaces?
There is so much research supporting the fact that gender diverse organisations out-perform organisations that aren’t, that I would encourage everyone to consider this subject to be incredibly important.

My questions for every person and every organisation to consider are:

  • How can anyone expect to achieve and sustain a thriving and supportive workplace culture without placing an importance on gender (and cultural) diversity and psychological safety?
  • How can we expect to attract gender diverse candidates if we’re not already exhibiting behaviour that suggests a welcoming and inclusive environment for all?

I think this type of diversity is especially important in leadership roles – specifically at board and executive levels. I believe this provides better overall governance and leadership. I also believe (maybe somewhat naively) that it signals to women that there are pathways and opportunities that will support them to achieve these roles, if that’s what they’re interested in.

The theme for IWD this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What does this mean to you?

  • It means calling out inequity and exclusive behaviours wherever I witness them.
  • It means challenging my own values and belief systems, spending time in radical self enquiry.
  • It means being an ally, an advocate and a voice for people who aren’t in the room.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you and why it is you think they’re awesome.
Jackie Clarke of The Aunties is someone I deeply respect and admire. Jackie is a fierce advocate, voice and ally for the underprivileged in our community and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

What’s your favourite book, movie or song?
I read a LOT of books and would find it difficult to pick a favourite. I tend to be drawn to travel tales written by adventurous women, books that introduce me to new ways of thinking, cookery books (I have a lot of these), science fiction and books about creative pursuits (such as writing and photography).

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