Currently viewing the tag: "career"
My first week back at work with my eldest kidlet...her expression says it all!

My first week back at work with my eldest kidlet…her expression says it all!

It’s half-way through the week, and I am in midst of my weekly routine.  Along with my writing here and creating hand-made pieces for my Etsy store I have a science career that I am just as passionate about.

It’s now been 10 years since I had to learn the fine art of balancing being a Mum with having a career.  The time has flown by and along the way I  have picked up some tricks and tools to help make it an enjoyable ride for everyone.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d share a my top five tips for returning to work and finding balance between home and work (WARNING – some of these are a little harsh, I was tempted to change/modify/water down what I was trying to say, but decided I may dilute the message):

  1. Remember…nobody is as interested in your kids as you are.  You are the Mum (or Dad) so it’s your role to believe that your kids are the coolest/funniest/most special people in the world. Put yourself in your co-workers shoes…  Replace ‘baby’ with ‘cycling’, then imagine if you would regale a non-cycling enthusiast with all the details about your bike, the rides you’ve done, how the Tour is going. Falling asleep yet?  Same applies to kids and babies. I know it’s sounds a bit harsh, but it’s true.
  2. Treat each role with respect. When you are at work, work.  When you are at home or spending time with your kids, then be present.  Simple right? Try and keep a clear line between the two.  There will always be times when your worlds collide, however day-to-day show respect for both sides by focussing on where you are.
  3. Take the time when you are on maternity leave, no matter what the duration, to think about what you want when you return. Do you want to keep your skills current? Progress your career?  Interact and socialise with adults? Earn money for your family/lifestyle/future?  Whatever it is, own it.  Being a little fuzzy about why you are back at work can make the whole situation a lot tougher.  Be honest with yourself.
  4. Don’t apologise for returning to work, or staying at home.  Be proud of your decision either way.  Women, men, society in general can be tough on women and men and the choices they make in having kids and raising them.  There will be enough critical analysis of your actions without adding to it yourself.
  5. Find a way to carve out time to be you.  Whether it’s exercise, reading, getting creative, meditation, whatever takes your fancy! Find a way to be kind to yourself and do it daily. Don’t feel guilty, know that it’s critical to take the time to make sure you have the energy to put your heart into all parts of your life.

I hope there is a little chestnut in here to inspire you to be proud and own your choices and also appreciate and respect your friends choices.

Enjoy xx

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I am basking in the glow of a daydream come true. After years of sewing /creating for my own pleasure and for my little tribe, I decided to take the plunge and start a boutique design label. Featuring fab frocks, sunny sun dresses, cool shorts, super cute totes, brooches…and a whole lot more, This Grand Life, the label became a reality.
This weekend I braved The Finders Keepers market in sunny Sydney, and it was…wonderful, terrifying and inspirational all at the same time. Within minutes of opening, my nerves disappeared, and I didn’t stop smiling all day.

Hello from Finders Keepers!

Have you got a daydream? A dream trip? A great idea?

Enjoy xx

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I have been contemplating my future, career aspirations and life in general over the past week.

Kicked off my a 360° session (where you seek out and invite your leader and co-workers to assess you – sounds like fun right?) in the office, and spurned on by a thought-provoking day at WIMWA 2013(Women in Mining Western Australia).

I have been wondering what is it that keeps me satisfied in life?

The fabulous Jane Caro, gave an inspirational and hilarious speech at WIMWA, and spoke of finding the balance between boredom and fear.

This struck a chord with me.

Feeling satisfied, and happy isn’t the result of one silver bullet, one thing that makes everything right.

It’s more in a constant state of flux.

When life is becoming a little stale and uninspiring, it’s time to dial up the risk factor a little and try something new. Learn a new language. Apply for that job that may be a bit of a stretch. Eat somewhere new. Try cooking something different. Take a risk and cut your hair. A small change can make a big difference and be enough to get the fire burning again.

Likewise if your head is spinning, and life seems to be weighing you down, and it’s all getting a little hard, then it’s time to take your foot off the pedal and slow down.  Get back to routine. Cut out a couple of essential activities for you and the kids (let’s face it, nobody really needs to be playing three sports before the age of 5!). Go back to eating simple wholesome food. Walk instead of drive.

Which brings me back to where I am right now.  For me, it’s time to change it up, and dial up the risk factor a little. I have started my own blog (thank you for visiting!), started my own retail space and am amping it up a notch in my corporate life by getting more involved, joining the Institute of Company Directors and seeking out and accepting speaking gigs (my big fear is public speaking, I also happen to love doing it, after the event, when my nerves are a little less frazzled).

Where are you right now?  Are you satisfied?

Enjoy xx

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Feeling like a square peg in a round hole?

Feeling like a square peg in a round hole?

Life can be hard-core at the best of times.

The road can get even rougher when you add work, kids, study, and anything  else the universe throws at you.

When I was younger, I thought the way to make it all a little easier was to try to blend in. Whether it be clothes, hair, taste in music, you name it, surely it life would be a little easier if you could just blend in with the crowd?

People can be pretty brutal when you don’t fit the norm.

Too fat, too skinny, too smart, too eccentric, too loud, too quiet, too fit, too lazy, too ambitious, too laid-back…

Argh!!  How on earth do you get it right?

I think the simple truth is you never will, not if you only focus on what others think is right. For you.

The beauty of experience is you (hopefully) start to appreciate who you are and become more comfortable with who you really area. I have been thinking and reflecting on life, work, and well, me, over the past week. Maybe it’s this rainy weather we’ve been having in not so sunny Perth…

I had started to think about why I continue to work in a male-dominated industry (mining), and why I also find the energy to write, create and connect with people here.

It all boils down to what’s right for me. I love working with people, listening to their stories, helping them out, guiding, coaching and leading people.  Would I love to see more women in the industry I work in? Hell yes! It can be more than a little confronting being the only woman in the room, being a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.

Does that stop me from working in this industry I have grown to love? No way.

I also love being creative, so I chose to work out a way to have this too. For me, it’s my blog and my little online retail space.

It’s not a textbook approach to having a career, but it’s one that works for me.

In fact it’s one of the many reasons I feel like I am thriving, not surviving as I navigate my way through life.

What makes you thrive?

Enjoy xx

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Are you running a marathon or a sprint at work?

Are you running a marathon or a sprint at work?

It’s performance review time in my neck of the woods, that kind of awkward, kind of rewarding and for me always nerve-wracking couple of weeks when the corporate world pauses to give you a heads up on how you are going.

Each time it comes up I face it with trepidation… as I am never quite sure how it’s going to turn out.

This time went well (in case you were wondering), despite my nerves. Though in the course of all the conversations we were having, one cryptic comment had me stumped…’your career is a marathon not a sprint’.

Tricky to interpret right? I love feedback, I actually get a lot out of someone letting me know how I am travelling (that’s why comments on here are fab too!).

Contemplating the concept that my career is a marathon, not a sprint has me perplexed, even doing a little soul-searching.

After a lot of thought, and a glass (or two) of wine last night, I have settled somewhat in the middle.

I think my career may be constantly in a state of flux, acceleration/ deceleration, sprint/ marathon.

At the moment I am definitely in sprint phase, I am hitting my straps, MBA finished, fab role in the corporate world, small creative business thriving (thank you!), and my littlest poppet gearing up to start school.  This period of my life, where I am young(ish), my kids are old enough to be gaining some independence, but not quite hitting full throttle at school, Big A is firmly ensconced in a great role at work, is short. Really short. It’s already flying by. So at the moment my career is set to sprint pace. Fast, and furiously busy.

A few years ago it was a little different. I blessed to have four gorgeous kids in the space of five years, we had moved across Australia (yes I don’t do things by halves), so I recognised where I was at and slowed the pace. It was still busy, but I took a step back in the corporate world, cut back on other things I was doing (creative business taking a break), and slowed to marathon speed.  In for the long haul.  Which at the time worked.


That time has passed though, and for the past couple of years I have been stepping up the pace. I know that in a couple of years, life will change again, and I will need to pause, think and maybe consider slowing the pace again.  And I am ok with that.

What do you think? Is your career a sprint or a marathon?

Enjoy xx

Do you need to choose one career? For life?

Do you need to choose one career? For life?

Is there such a thing as a career for life or only having one career any longer?

Or have times have changed?

I think times have changed, and society has started to move on. Despite this, there are still some of us who are still a little attached to the idea that we need to choose the right career right away.

No second chances. 

No changing tact.

Don’t even get me started on exams.

Whenever I read about the pressure of final exams, I think what’s the big deal?

I mean do we really still believe that one lot of exams is the be all and end all?

That how you perform during that one period of your life sets the course for the next six to seven decades?

Think about that for a moment.

Six to seven decades, 60 or 70 years.  Life is no longer a matter of choosing a job, then working hard at that one job for 30-40 years, then retiring.

Society has moved on.

Did you know it’s now more common to have several careers, parallel careers, portfolio careers, there’s now a bespoke or ‘choose-your-own’  tailored approach.

It’s the approach I have adopted, science-based corporate career, freelance writing, and now design (yes, one quirky, This Grand Life online store coming your way). So that would make me a Mother/Partner/Scientist/Writer/Designer/Business Owner.

Everyone has the right to choose or not. Love maths and being creative? No problem, do a commerce/arts degree, then take your pick!

How about you? Have chosen a career and stuck with it?  Or are you more of a ‘choose your own adventure type’?  Or did life step in the way of your grand plans, and take you on a different path?

Enjoy xx

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Vilfredo Pareto, perhaps gazing out at Italy or his patch or peas?

Vilfredo Pareto, perhaps gazing out at Italy or his patch or peas?


Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle?  Sometimes it’s referred to as the 80/20 rule.

In 1906 an Italian economist , Vilfredo Pareto,  noted that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people, then on a horticultural front, noted that 20% of his  peapods contained 80% of the peas ( how’s  that for diversity of application!).  This principle has since been translated into business, 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients, 80% of your complaints come from 20% of your customers…

So how about applying this principle in your life?

At work, what are the top 20% of things you should be focussing your efforts on?  Tacking the big stuff (your top 20%) first will give you big gains, whilst you could think about delegating the smaller stuff (the other 80%) to somebody in your team (helping them to learn the ropes). If you are in the midst of  climbing the corporate ladder, can you find an opportunity to step up and tackle one of the big tricky problems?

At home, can 20% of your cleaning give you 80% of your ‘clean house’ satisfaction?

I tested this theory out this week. Cleaning our castle takes me about 5-6 hours, which means I should get the most bang out my cleaning buck for about 1.5 hours.  Coincidently (or not – according to the Pareto Principle), this is about the time it takes me to clean our ‘high traffic areas’  kitchen/ living room. Though this is totally unscientific, I found that yes I did feel like I had a much cleaner house after that initial 1.5 hours. Now if only I could find someone to clean the ‘less satisfying’ parts… my kids maybe?

What if I applied it to de-cluttering? I decided to target Little L’s wardrobe – an amazingly large collection of clothes, shoes and accessories (fairy wings anyone) all thanks to hand-me-downs and being the youngest (if the bigger kids get a new top, so does Little L- does anyone else apply this ‘equality’ to their tribe?).  So using the Pareto Principle or 80/20 rule, I decided to keep the clothes she wore 80% of the time, the items on high rotation.  I employed a highly complex technique of a dedicated (separate) washing basket for the week, then everything left in her giant wardrobe was sorted and most of it donated. Presto! 

Can you think of other ways to apply this handy little principle?

Enjoy xx

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Each day I look on Facebook or twitter (yep, social media plays a pretty big part in my life!), I see someone mentioning how ‘cold’ it is becoming, or how the temperature is ‘really dropping’.

Which is true, sort of.

Technically, in terms of seasons we are heading into more chilly territory.

However winter in Australia is a bit of an oxymoron.  There aren’t a lot of places where we see snow falling. We don’t tend to see the temperature drop close to zero for very long, and in most places we get that glorious rise in temperature through the middle of the day.

Which leaves fashion lovers in a state of confusion. What do you buy for a winter wardrobe in sunny Oz?

Is it worth investing in a leather jacket/ boots/ thick tights when you may only wear them for a coupe of weeks each year?

With all of this in mind, here are my 7 fab finds for an Australian winter or a not so cold climate…

1. Blanket wrap from Witchery. Monochrome loveliness, scarf/ wrap, and a great way to keep warm when you’re out and about.

Blanket wrap by Witchery (AUD$59.95)

2. Chelsea boots by Witchery. Less fashion cash committment than a knee-high pair, and perfect into the warmer weather with a dress.Chelsea boots by Witchery (AUD$199.95)


3. Fab Country Road faux fur scarf to add a wintry feel to your work gear, or with jeans and silk top on the weekends

Faux fur scarf from Country Road (AUD$199.95)

Faux fur scarf from Country Road (AUD$199.95)

4. Sequin shoulder knit from Country Road.  Add a little bling to a wardrobe staple (black knit) – and lightweight enough to wear through into spring.

Sequin shoulder knit from Country Road (AUD$99)

Sequin shoulder knit from Country Road (AUD$99)

 5. Add a bit of a quirky twist to your wintry black with this gorgeous bowerbird pendant from Polli

Bowerbird pendant from Polli via Birdnest (AUD$44.95)

Bowerbird pendant from Polli via Birdnest (AUD$44.95)


6. Try this drop waist dress from seed (did you know Seed also had a fab ladies range?)


Drop waist dress from Seed (AUD$129.95)

Drop waist dress from Seed (AUD$129.95)


7. Last but not least, a fab new pair of jeans, not just any jeans, floral jeans, which can take you straight through into spring.  I love these from Atmos & Here via the Iconic

Atmos&Here Carolina Jeans via The Iconic (AUD$79.95)

Atmos&Here Carolina Jeans via The Iconic (AUD$79.95)

Enjoy xx

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Embracing feminism...

Embracing feminism…

Feminism and the concept of labeling myself a feminist has been on my mind lately. A lot.

Call me a late bloomer, but the thought of actually stepping up and proudly calling myself a feminist has only recently occurred to me.

Prior to that, I would have preferred to drop the f-bomb in the boardroom than utter the word feminist, let alone label myself one.

I am tired of waiting for change though, and want my kids to enter a workforce where men and women are on a par, and where raising kids as a team effort is the norm (the lovely Big A and I make it work after all!).

So spurned on by some seriously ambitious and intelligent women, thank you Catherine Fox and Sheryl Sandberg, I have started ‘stepping up‘ or ‘leaning in’.

No easy feat as I work in the mining industry, which is, well, more than a little blokey.

Which most of the time doesn’t bother me…too much.

Then I think about the fact that it’s not just mining, it’s nearly all industries, and it’s really obvious as you rise through the ranks.

I am writing this from the Qantas Club, a business lounge in an airport in Brisbane, Australia.

Where, the vast majority of patrons are men.  Last night, before I flew out of sunny Perth (Australia), the situation was even more blokey.  Qantas Club had bascially become a Man Cave (I would say Gentlemen’s Club, however, there were far too many men in thongs, singlets and mullets getting around for that – PS – if you are confused right now and you’re thinking wait a minute…Qantas Club…WTF… it’s because there’s a mining boom in WA peeps – so loads of miners, and therefore men).

Seems kind of wrong doesn’t it? Where were all the women? Qantas Club is (usually) the place you go when traveling for business.  I was tempted to get the hell out of there last night, there were a shiteload of men, a lot of loud drinking and swearing, and well, it wasn’t the most welcoming of places. However, I decided to stick it out, as I had every right to be there.

Which is a pretty neat analogy and a great story to share when I try to explain how tough it can be to be a woman in the workforce.

It is tough, and it is challenging.

Each and every day I face up to situations where I am the only woman, or one of a handful. Over the years while working in other industries, it’s the same story. I’ve missed out on a top job because I had just had a young baby, visited sites where there are no ladies toilets, been asked to take the minutes and get the coffee, been called a ‘girl’ more times that I can count, and been treated like an idiot just for being a woman, and missed out on promotions time and time again despite being more qualified and experienced than the male applicants I am competing against. You know what though, I have never given up and walked away. Just like at the Qantas Club last night, I have no intention of walking away because it’s too hard.  Instead I intend to keep standing my ground, and encourage and inspire women and men to look beyond gender in the workplace and on the home-front.

Whilst enjoying my time in the Man Cave – sorry Qantas Club, I have been reading a wonderful, thought-provoking, funny and poignant set of stories presented by Jane Caro- Destroying the Joint.  Born from the rantings of Alan Jones, (in his usual brash shock-jock way), women have united to share their thoughts on why women have to change the world.  You see, poor old Alan is concerned women will ‘destroy the joint’ if too many women get into power.

So, thank you Alan Jones, thank you to all the Alan Jones in this world who think men and women aren’t equally capable at home and at work. Thanks to all of you for encouraging (ok maybe forcing me) to own the label.  Yes, I am a feminist, and I am proud of it. I do believe women offer as much to the world as men, I believe in equal pay, equal chance of promotion, and above all the ability to choose.  Equality means shared responsibility at home too, raising kids, cleaning the house, whatever it takes.

Do you see yourself as a feminist?

Enjoy xx

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Is it a long way to the top?

Is it a long way to the top?

This morning I got to thinking about the career progression and ambition.

Maybe not the sexiest of topics to all, but on my mind nonetheless.

There’s good reason too…

First the lovely Big A presented me with a copy of 7 Myths about Women and Work by Catherine Fox. Which I loved as it really resonated with me. I devoured it in three days and promptly lent it to a friend, saying ‘you HAVE to read this’.

Then there was the ‘sage’ (tongue planted firmly in cheek) opinion piece from Susan Patton about how to make the most out of your time at University (in this case Princeton) – apparently the main game is to find a rich, smart husband!  Incredibly aggravating, outrageously old-fashioned, but well worth the read as you are highly likely to encounter the same ‘opinion’ in your professional career. Grrrrrr, bloody grrrr.

Next up was Sheryl Sandberg’s tome, Lean In. Enlightening, brilliantly/ brutally honest, and one of the best books I have ever read. Ever. Furiously ambitious, Sheryl Sandberg’s book and opinion pieces have appeared at precisely the right time for me. A time when I am looking around, and wondering where are all the women in leadership?

Which leads me to here, in a coffee shop at lunchtime, pondering the big question of… what next?

You see, I am filled to the brim with ambition. Years ago, it bubbled over as I saw my future as bright and shiny, and I knew that of course I would eventually become a CEO.  Blind, brash ambition? Maybe. In my heart of hearts though, that is what I was aiming for.

So what has changed?

In short, nothing.

If you read this blog a little (or a lot – in which case – thank you!), you’ll know that I have a tribe of kids, and a fab supportive husband (that’d be Big A).

This has not changed/ dampened/ erased my ambition.

Over the years I’ve pursued challenging roles (overseas, interstate, change management, operations), completed two Masters degrees, and taken very little ‘time out’ to give birth to my little tribe. I work full-time and give it my all. I have now reached middle management.

So, my question is now… what is next?

What is it that I need to do to get to the top?

In the mining industry where women are in the minority (like most industries), and the gender pay gap is moving at snails pace this ambition seems even more lofty.

Yet, I am not going to give up. And nor should you if you are reading this and thinking, yes, me too!

My plan of attack so far is to keep speaking up, continuing to seek out and step into challenges, and supporting my colleagues in closing the gap.

What would you do? Have you got any hot tips?

Enjoy xx

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