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What #breakthebias means to some of the remarkable women from our corporate businesses

FCTG Careers   |   March 9, 2022

To celebrate International Women’s Day this year we have profiled a number of remarkable women from our corporate businesses FCM, FCM Meetings & Events and Corporate Traveller. Read on to find out what International Women’s Day and #breakthebias means to these amazing women.

3-Mar-08-2022-08-53-19-54-AM Hayley Taylor

Hotel program specialist for FCM Consulting, Hayley Taylor has a lot on her plate, between working, various community roles and raising a family. But that doesn’t seem to bother Hayley. In fact, this mum of two is passionate about getting involved to support her community in any way she can.

What do you think of International Women’s Day and what does it mean to you? 

How blessed I am to work in a company, which has so many amazing women to connect with and learn from. For me, International Women’s Day is a day to reflect on how far women have come, how many new opportunities have been opened up by women who have come before us. 

So many women around me, personally and professionally have been and are strong women with stories to be told. My Mum fought cancer for nine years however lost her fight 10 years ago. She taught me to have a ‘giving heart’. To serve and volunteer, connect with people and listen to their stories, because you will always learn something and you can always help someone. 

What advice do you have for young women or men who are working to ‘Break the Bias’? 

We are all on our own journey. Be flexible with your path but know who you are and strive to be the best version of yourself. Find a balance, work hard but find time to have fun and to keep fit. Have a voice. Live in community with others and treasure the stories that people share with you.  Have a generous heart with both time and money. 

Read more of what Hayley had to say here.

2-Mar-08-2022-08-53-19-53-AM Michelle Leffley 

Head of FCM’s Account Management team in NSW, Michelle Leffley, has played a pivotal role in helping to manage some of FCM’s largest projects during the past few years. Michelle believes asking questions and being courageous are some of the key attributes for a successful career. 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

The recent advancement of women in leadership roles has been amazing to see and I believe you need to appoint the right person for the role, regardless of gender. I remember in my early years at Flight Centre Travel Group, I was lucky enough to attend the Womenwise event in Brisbane and this really was when the rise of women in leadership was taking off. It was such an inspirational day to hear women’s achievements recognised and understand the challenges some women faced in the ‘70s and ‘80s and how far we have come. Events and recognition like this allow women and girls of any age believe they can achieve their dreams. 

What is your message to young women or men growing up in terms of helping them to ‘Break the Bias’? 

I am a strong believer that people should be recognised for their work ethic and performance in their role and that the right person for the role be appointed, as we know the workplace does not always work in this way. Therefore, it is important to hold strong to your values and live through these, know what you are capable of and never be scared to ask questions and be courageous throughout your career. I think you should always follow your passion and goals and, in the process, understand what you have to do, to achieve these. It may be that you need to work on certain areas of your development or take on new projects and in the end, believe in yourself.

Read more of Michelle's story here.

Untitled design (17) Stacey O’Connor 

Business Development Manager for FCM Meetings & Events and new mum-to-be Stacey O’Connor believes in the power of women ‘raising each other up’ and people taking time out for themselves daily, to re-set and focus on what’s important for the day ahead. 

As someone who works in the event space have there been events that you’ve considered to be outstanding in terms of creating equality, opportunity and progress for women? 

I have been lucky enough to run many incredible, pinch-yourself type events all over the world – from hosting a gala dinner in a Siem Reap temple in Cambodia, to coordinating a dinner under the stars in the heart of Kruger National Park, South Africa, surrounded by the ‘big five’. However, if I’m honest about the events where I felt the most inspired about the opportunity it represented for women - it would have to be the first Womenwise event I attended, run by our very own company! 

I remember sitting there in a large room full of 300 other women, all with their own stories of struggle and triumph, cheering each other on to be better versions of themselves. Not only for their families but for the many other women out there who are still disadvantaged, still burdened by the gender gap. That was special and what life is truly about. Raising each other up.

Read Stacey's full story here.

4-3 Julie Pilcher 

"If we don’t have men as part of the discussion and actively promoting women, we won’t get there. It will take ALL of us to champion women for a seat at the table."

You are a busy mum of a blended family as well as a very talented creative, involved in volunteer work including supporting the homeless, aged care and corporate charities … how do you fit everything in as well as having time to yourself? 

The adage of giving a job to a busy person seems to apply and resonate with me. I am energetic and hate standing still. I will find things to do rather than relax as a general rule! The chaos of a blended family of five girls was intense when they were all teenagers and all living at home, but we worked hard to make it work. I think I had a good mix of work, family, social life and also managed to fit community work in as well, which I think is important. 

It’s also been good for our girls to see how important it is to look outside your own lives and help others where you can. It’s been rewarding to see them grow and develop their skill set in helping others. Although in saying ALL of that … I love to shut myself in my bedroom and read or enjoy a good G&T in the afternoon! 

 Read more about Julie's story here.

1-Mar-08-2022-08-53-19-62-AM Karla West 

Karla started with FCTG in a retail role in 2008, before spending the past 10 years with Corporate Traveller in Operations and then Account Management. After maternity leave, which coincided with COVID, Karla returned in 2021 to her current role with the flexibility of working from home one day a week. Inspired by one of her non-profit corporate clients, Karla was keen to give back to the community – leading her to take a hands-on role that she cherishes, as part of the Flight Centre Foundation’s working group. 

‘Break the Bias’ is the IWD theme for 2022, what does it mean to you?   

There is still a lot of gender bias in business, evidenced by the low numbers of women in CEO roles in Australia. I remember organising an International Women’s Day lunch for the business a few years ago and I really struggled to find women in senior roles to attend. I think part of the issue is that gender stereotypes are instilled in us from birth. You also see stereotypes in a clearer light once you become a mother yourself, especially gender roles around parenthood. I don’t know that it will ever happen, but it would be great to see men taking parenting leave in the same numbers as women!

Read Karla's full interview here.

Untitled design (16)-1 Jaclyn Reynolds 

During her 23 years with the FCTG, Jaclyn has held many roles starting as a Travel Manager, before moving into Account Management, then Head of Operations and General Manager for NSW/ACT before her recent promotion. 

What is the biggest barrier for women wanting to progress in their careers?

In my experience, striving for perfectionism causes a barrier for many women. Women tend to be too critical of themselves and rather than jumping into a new role, they may hold back until they feel they have ticked all of the boxes. We often think that we have to prove ourselves more than men. So we tend to judge ourselves more harshly, compare ourselves to others and hold ourselves back if we don’t see ourselves as a ‘stereotypical’ leader.

What advice would you give to women considering their next career move?

Work closely with a mentor within the business to support your growth, to help improve your skillset and to also help raise your personal profile.

Read Jaclyn's full story here

Interested in working alongside these extraordinary women? Check out our open roles in Corporate and Group Travel here.

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