When Ann Sherry gives career advice, you listen. After all, one-time chief executive at Westpac New Zealand is now the CEO of major cruise ship line Carnival Australia. She was even named the country’s most influential woman in the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards last year. Not bad for a former prison social worker from a small town in Queensland.
Sherry, who is appearing at Sydney’s All About Women event at the Opera House this month, sat down with Mamamia to share some words of wisdom. And one of her key pieces of advice is to “stay the course” as you eye that top job.
“Women say, ‘you can choose, you can come in and out, it doesn’t matter’. Actually, it does matter; you’ve got to stay the course and be tenacious,” she says.
The 62-year-old executive adds that men are more likely to advise each other to run a business or get on the board of directors, but that women need to equally recognise “it’s worth it” to aim high.
“Running companies gives you a lot of power, it gives you ability to do things that you may never have dreamed of,” she advises viewers.
Ms Sherry– whose career has included a stint as First Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Status of Women — also advises women to not only foster a life outside of work, but to get comfortable with presenting their real selves at work.
“You’ve got to have a life as well as a job…being a whole person is part of the secret of success,” she says. “And that whole person has got to be the same person.
“I think often in work places people think they have to be different at work than they really are. I think that’s really important for women, that you’re not pretending that you haven’t got kids or you don’t pretend that you’re not occasionally uncertain or whatever it is.”
More honesty about what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace? We always say: Bring it on.
Ann Sherry will be talking at about All About Women 2016 on 6 March Sydney. You can buy tickets here.