Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
Name and role:
Jillian Broadbent and Chair of Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Chair of Swiss Re Life & Health Australia Limited, director of Woolworths Ltd and Chancellor of Wollongong University.
Tell us about your role? What is it? What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
After 25 years working in banking and finance I moved from an executive role to take up a number of non-executive directorships. I have served in this capacity on publically listed company boards, government corporations and in the not for profit sector. As a non-executive director I participate on the boards of organisations overseeing the strategy, governance and management of them.
Your professional career has been quite diverse, how has it developed and evolved over the years?
I have been lucky to have opportunities to work in a wide range of fields. After graduating my first professional job was as an economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia. Most of my banking career was with Bankers Trust/BT Australia, which grew from 60 to 4000 employees over my 22 years there. At BT, I built a number of different departments, which was both satisfying and rewarding. Through the wide-ranging contacts I had with industry clients in building this banking business, many opportunities arose. These involved requests to apply my financial skills in the not for profit sector in particular, at the Art Gallery of NSW, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Through my participation in these diverse activities my career developed and evolved to span positions in the public and the private sector.
When did you know this is what you wanted to do as a career?
I never really knew what I wanted to do as a career, I just responded to the opportunities with diligence, enthusiasm and capacity.
What where the stumbling blocks when you first started on your career path and how did you overcome these?
There were always stumbling blocks starting with self-doubt, exacerbated by a male dominated sector and culture. The first step to overcoming stumbling blocks is to deal with the internally generated ones, building your confidence, observing success and the learnings it carries and not wasting any of your precious energy on blame and ill will.
Did/do you have a mentor?
I did not have a mentor but I did observe successful people whom I liked and admired their approach and effectiveness. This helped me develop my own sense of self and confidence.
You have been honoured for your hard work with many accolades to your name – what to you feel has been your biggest achievement?
I feel satisfied by a number of achievements:
– Building a successful business at BT and a positive culture, where people were enthusiastic to come to work each day, the business was profitable and the clients we serviced were appreciative and supportive;
– Serving on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia for three terms which was beyond the term of most RBA Board members and acting to improve the wellbeing of all Australians, was a great honour; and
– Chairing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation through a change of government and keeping the corporation on track and enthusiastic despite the current government’s policy to abolish the CEFC.
Your success has paved the way for many women in business. How have things changed for women since you began?
Many things have changed over the nearly 50 years of my career. There are more women in business, though still not enough. Childcare choices have expanded, and the attitude from partners and fellow workers is more supportive or at least benign.
What are you goals for the future?
After 50 years in a working career, I am not focused on goals for the future but I would like to continue to use my private sector skills to facilitate public policy outcomes as I have done at the CEFC and the RBA.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?
Advice: Work on your inner stability, develop a bit of teflon coating, not being super sensitive to criticism or insensitive comments from male colleagues. Do your homework and be prepared as it will improve your effectiveness and help your confidence and sense of belonging.