I was inspired by the candid, relatable stories in Risky Business: Bold moves from five Australian execs for International Women’s Day this year. All wonderfully different stories but all fundamentally united by the theme of backing yourself to move forward. What a great message for IWD. If #BeBoldForChange was this year’s theme, perhaps we should float #BackYourself for next year?

It’s such a great message that it inspired me to share part of my story about backing myself.

Nearly a decade ago now, I was striving towards a promotion which would see me as the only female in the senior leadership team in Australia; I was also thinking about starting a family.

I thought, do I get that promotion under my belt first then try for a family or do I start my family now and believe that I can do well at work, get that promotion, and be a good mum?

One of my main fears was that once I was out of the business no one would remember my track record and everything I’d worked hard for. I had been told that if I left I would need to come back into the business and re-prove myself all over again, with no regard for balancing this with being a first time mum.

I wanted to prove I could be a mother and still get promoted. To be one of the first women in the company to successfully return from maternity leave in a leadership and front office role.

I knew it wasn’t the easier path, but I decided to start a family rather than wait.

The most challenging part in returning was having no work-life integration. I felt I couldn’t talk about my child, that I literally had to pick up being a suit where I left off being a mum. I was living in a parallel universe and I didn’t recognise who I was.

I got to the point where I wanted to scream, enough is enough!

It was unrealistic, not to mention unfair, that I had to be either a mother, a wife, and a friend, or a boss and a career person. I knew I would be a much better person if I could be all that in one, which is when the confidence in being able to find a better way started to build.

I got the promotion. I got the badge, we had a celebration but my mind was already made up. I had to back myself. I had to move forward.

My ideas around a better way of doing things were about having more purpose, about being open, about working smarter, being more forward thinking about managing on outcomes, at challenging the status-quo, at rethinking how a business could be run. It was not just improving on where I was, but who I was.

Being in the position I am now, I am grateful to be part of a startup where I can use these experiences to contribute to a culture in which others can thrive. Where backing yourself is the first, mandatory step to a happy, successful life fulfilled.

Where has backing yourself got you?

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