Womenwise Q&A Series: Spotlight on Allisa O’Connell

Allisa OConnell

Allisa O’Connell has been with Flight Centre Travel Group for over 30 years, starting as a travel consultant and spanning many positions since then. She is currently one of the most senior members of the Australian leadership team, and Executive General Manager of Flight Centre Australia.

We spoke to Allisa about what it’s like being a female leader, and how Womenwise is helping support and inspire women in the workplace.

Hi Allisa, give us a rundown of what Womenwise is all about.

Womenwise is a program to help more women move into senior roles within Flight Centre Travel Group. It also serves to showcase other women who have done it before and “made it”. We want to make sure women know that they can do it too, and that there are female role models out there who can support them on their journey. Above all, it’s a development platform for our women to grow in skill and knowledge and be ready to take on senior roles.

What initiatives does Flight Centre have in place to support women in advancing their careers?

Womenwise isn’t just an event, but an ongoing initiative. For example, when interviewing for roles, we like to use balanced panel interviews to create an unbiased environment for interviewing. We also work on mentoring women to help them develop the skills they need to be better leaders in the workplace.

What does being a great leader in the workplace mean to you?

I don’t believe being a leader in the workplace is about having a fancy title given to you. It’s about taking the right actions to lead by example, striving to motivate and engage your team, and acting in the best interests of your company.

Many women in the workplace suffer from “imposter syndrome”, or fear being viewed as "bossy". What tips do you have for getting over these frames of mind?

It might be more common for women, but I think everyone suffers confidence issues from time to time. A general trick to avoid those behaviours is remembering our intentions and what we want to achieve.

Focusing on your goals and what you need to do to achieve them removes the idea of “yourself” from the picture. Trust yourself and your team! People know what they’re doing and you’re in your role for a reason.

It’s also important to prioritise learning. Successfully learning something new is a great confidence booster.

What would you attribute your current leadership success to?

For me, the failures have mattered more than the successes! Learning from my failures has helped me to refine who I am as a person. Knowing what works for me means I don’t have to follow the footsteps of other people – which helps me to be truly authentic in my approach to leadership.

Curious to find out more about Flight Centre Travel Group's Womenwise movement? Find out more about how Flight Centre Travel Group is building a new generation of female leaders here.