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Women across the country continue to succeed in high corporate positions, breaking the glass ceiling and helping to close the gender equality gap.
Women across the country continue to succeed in high corporate positions, breaking the glass ceiling and helping to close the gender equality gap. Tom Merton

Force to be reckoned with: women leading Australian business

POWERHOUSE women across the nation are climbing the corporate ladder and leaving shattered glass ceilings in their wake.

Right now, women represent 29.7 per cent of the nation's key management personnel, with 50 per cent of new appointments to the ASX 200 boards in 2018 so far, women.

Inspired by those who have come before and leading the charge for those who are already climbing the leadership rungs, women are now, more than ever, a force to be reckoned with.

We caught up with three impressive business women from regional Queensland who have battled adversity in the workplace, soared to the top and are encouraging others to do the same. 

 

Helping mums realise their true value - Tanya Rutherford

Getting back into the workforce can be challenging for mothers, but not when Rockhampton-based Tanya Rutherford is coaching them.

The mother-of-two runs TM Rutherford, her own coach and consulting business, and also works part time at CQ University where she looks after student leadership and mentoring.

With an impressive career locally and overseas, in accounting and other corporate sectors, Ms Rutherford used a redundancy in 2010 to pivot into a coaching and development career after a former boss told her 'it would be a shame to waste your business and management experience'.

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Tanya Rutherford. Contributed

Years later she now spends her days teaching women how to discover their own unique and valuable skill sets.

"I mostly help women returning to work or establishing their own business to recognise what they have to offer and what they can bring to the picture," she says.

"It's about helping them to realise their potential and encourage them to know they have the skills to get more than an admin job if they so desire.

"Sadly, many women just don't think they're worth what they are, they think they have to trade their value for flexibility.

"Others worry that customers can't afford much so they won't charge for what they do - but they have so much more to offer."

Ms Rutherford says she is determined to challenge mothers' mindsets and help them realise and value their leadership, management and business skills as well as give them the confidence to realise their worth so they can pursue careers of their choosing.

"Last year in my job there was a restructure, so I had to take a step back; I struggled with my self-esteem," she says.

"I decided to undertake the Chartered Manager accreditation. I looked at it as a way to prove to myself and other people that I did have those skills as a manager, even if I wasn't a manager at that time.

"The rigorous process made me reflect on what I brought to the table and it made me realise that just because I hadn't had a manager's job for a couple of years it didn't mean I wasn't manager or leadership material.

"And now I have so much more than that. As well as giving me external validation, accreditation gave me the confidence boost I needed at that time."

 

Striving to be her best self - Amanda Luther

With an immeasurable zest for personal growth, Amanda Luther believes always being her best self and stepping out of her comfort zone has given her the confidence needed to pursue and excel in leadership roles.

Since 2004 she has worked for Suncorp, first in insurance claims in Toowoomba, now as a manager in the company's customer strategy and digital team based in Brisbane.

"Being your best self is about having balance, being genuine and staying true to your core values, which is really important in building trust and being a strong role model," she says.

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Amanda Luther. Contributed

"I do this by spending time on the right things. In a professional sense, it's about knowing what adds value and what doesn't, and having the courage to say no to requests that don't align. In a personal sense, it's about continuing to grow and improve my own wellbeing."

For nearly 15 years Ms Luther has worked her way through various leadership roles at Suncorp, always making a point of reflecting on her small wins along the way to achieving her bigger goals.

Crucially, she's always proactively sought feedback from those around her, despite it sometimes being challenging to hear, because she believes it can make the 'biggest difference in your success'.

Ms Luther says she's also actively taken side-steps in her career and those have helped her build a breadth of knowledge, experience and connections that have helped guide her in choosing her next step.

It's also allowed her to practise her leadership skills in different scenarios with different people.

"It's so important to strive to be your best self and I constantly look for ways to grow, whether that be through post-graduate study, learning Spanish or getting my Chartered Manager accreditation," she says.

The accreditation process required her to reflect deeply on her leadership experiences and consider how she could apply these learnings in different roles.

"For example, in my current role I lead and influence peers and stakeholders rather than direct reports. This brings different challenges but the fundamentals of managing and implementing change are the same."

 

Passion-driven leadership a valuable asset - Jayne Thorpe

Specialising in bringing stakeholders together to build and support resilient regional communities, Jayne Thorpe says she's a passion-driven person, like most who work in the non-profit sector.

Born in Chinchilla, raised in Charleville and now living in Toowoomba, Ms Thorpe is the business innovation and development co-ordinator for Catholic Care Social Services.

Such is her influence in the region, her current role was actually created with her in mind, on the back of her many successes as the growth manager for the non-profit Condamine Alliance.

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Jayne Thorpe. Contributed

With a science background, she worked for 12 years in various roles within the natural resource management organisation to help communities repair and conserve the environment in the Condamine catchment.

In her final years at the alliance she was the organisation's general manager for growth, a role that was also created for her and her unique skill set.

As well as working on broader-scale environmental projects where she had to apply technical expertise in consultation with stakeholders, she helped run a revegetation consultancy business.

Ms Thorpe says after a few years she realised that a lot of conservation issues were people issues and her people skills needed development.

With help from her supportive manager, a strong female role model to Thorpe, she attended leadership and professional management courses, yet despite her many years as a program leader, manager and a general manager, she didn't have anything 'coherent' to describe her management and leadership skills.

"I had a half page of short courses that showcased my managerial skills, but from a confidence perspective it was great to go through the Chartered Manager accreditation process," she says.

"What I love about the process is that I was independently assessed by people who did not know my history.

"When you work in regional areas for a long time you get to know a lot of people and getting an independent opinion can be hard.

"I knew I had the right people and leadership experience, but now I have the confidence to use my abilities to have a positive impact on the lives on others."

Now is the time to stand out in a competitive global market by becoming a Chartered Manager - start your accreditation journey today HERE