International Women’s Day 2018 – Women in consulting

Working at a busy consulting firm is full of complex intellectual challenges, so it was great that some of our team took time out to reflect on working at SPP, the best career advice they have received, and what keeps them centred in life.

To mark International Women's Day, some of  SPP's female team members got together for a frank and fun conversation about a career in consulting. Here we share some of their candid and inspiring responses:

  • Noel Leung, Principal and Education Lead
  • Chantelle Taylor, Executive Assistant
  • Annabelle Zhang, Associate
  • Gill Cashion, Engagement Manager
  • Liz Graham, Consultant
  • Katherine Milic, Marketing & BD Manager
Best piece of career advice you’ve received:

AZ: Be persistent in making a difference.
GC: You’ll always struggle to fit in everything you want do in - work, family, friends, holidays – so buy in whatever help you need at home.
KM: That's such good advice, Gill. I live by Quentin Bryce’s ‘you can have it all, just not all at once’!
LG: Don’t worry about what other people think of you. I wish I had taken this advice sooner…
CT: Think before you speak! Not mastered yet, but it’s definitely the best piece of advice I’ve had.
NL: Take ownership. Very early on in my career I was encouraged to own my work and be accountable for delivery, and that is something that has stayed with me throughout my career.

Career highlight to date:

LG: When I worked in the airline industry, one of the best responsibilities I had was taking clients on ‘educationals’ and ‘familiarisation trips’ so they could learn about airline products and discover new destinations! But more seriously, being part of a team that launched an airline in Australia, and to watch it continue to grow, is still an absolute highlight.
GC: Setting the foundations for one of our Not For Profit (NFP) clients to grow. Now, five years later, this same NFP client is almost twice the size.

What most inspires you about consulting at SPP:

NL: The people. Consulting is ultimately a people business and it’s the people that have kept me in the game for so long – whether that is my team or my clients.  I take great joy in learning from every individual I meet and work with – and hopefully they learn something from me too!
KM: I agree it’s the people, both clients and our team. We have a great group of highly talented team members unified in our focus to produce great work for our clients. We also meet interesting contacts through our corporate partnerships, programs and events.
AZ: Definitely a theme here. High quality services, aspiring brains and interesting personalities.
CT: Working with all the different people we have at SPP is inspiring. I really like the team that we have - they are smart and I learn so much from them, even  though at times I want to kill them!
GC: I love that I get the opportunity to work on such a broad range of projects and make a real difference to our clients.
LG: Gill – she is positive, knowledgeable, capable and always laughing that distinctive laugh! (Gill laughs.)

What are the advantages or challenges that are unique to working in consulting?

NL: I love the varied opportunities and exposure that you get through consulting – its such a thrill to get to know a new client or a new sector.  On the flip side there can be a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with being a consultant, and so you have to be comfortable with that – you also have to have a pretty flexible home life that can accommodate!
AZ: You learn to become more adaptable and well-rounded.
GC: It’s project based so its easy to take time out, and there is always a new project /challenge just around the corner.
CT: Bringing everyone together is the biggest challenge for me in my role as one of the key convenors of team and client messaging and project management because we are all so busy, both at work and outside of work.

What are your ‘success’ habits?

CT: Exercise at lunchtime. It gives me clarity and focus. I get two days of work done in one when I go to the gym.
GC: I know what you mean. For me, it's my cycle commuting – it gives me time to think through and plan my day on the way in, and relax and leave work behind on the way home.
AZ: Constant learning by finding new challenges.
KM: My success habit is being open to being inspired by anything - nature, design, architecture, places, people, friends, work, experiences. ‘The eye has to travel’, as feminist and fashion icon Diana Vreeland famously said.

What do you do for yourself to keep yourself centred?

LG: Remind myself that work is just work – not life.
GC: Get some time for me everyday – exercise, meditation, friends.
KM: Enjoy a hot cup of tea by myself before most of my world wakes up.
CT: I crochet!

If I wasn’t a consultant or in professional services, I’d be…

AZ: ...bored…(laughs). I’d be founding a cool and sexy start-up.
KM: I can see you doing that one day! I'd like to be paid for reading!
LG: …teaching English in Berlin.
GC: Doing development work in central America.
CT: …a make-up artist for Walt Disney Studios.

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