INTERVIEW: DAVE SINYI
Emma Harvie is a Customer Success Manager at Achievers, based in Melbourne, Australia. She was interviewed as part of Tell Her Story’s ongoing partnership with Achievers Women’s Network (AWN). The series highlights women leaders at different stages of their career throughout the organization.
Everything Emma speaks about is tinted with optimism, and the ability to look at the best possible positive outcome from a situation. Speaking with Emma is an exercise in intense exposure to positivity, passion, and self-motivation. Emma does not make excuses, but refuses to accept things as they are. Challenges are where learning happens; setbacks are a great opportunity to reassess; and, it’ is always a good time to focus on self-improvement.Where change needs to be made, Emma is the first to roll up her sleeves, and lead the ‘we-can-do-it!’ way.
Emma’s approach : Get clear on your vision of what you want, and then get clear on what you need to do to get there and start ticking off those things one by one.
EH: “After secondary school, I wanted to do either graphic design or photography. I couldn’t decide – so I did both, because I am an overachiever. I got an apprenticeship at a local newspaper doing design for ads and editorials and studied photography part time, but it was just a diploma. I’ve done courses since, in design, web design – all sorts of different things – but no actual undergrad degree; so, at 36, I went to university. I couldn’t get any credit for my work experiences – I had to start at the beginning.
On starting university at 36:
EH: I felt like I’d reached a point in my career where I couldn’t even get an interview for a job without ticking a box. But I was also a conscious of studying something I was passionate about, and wanted to learn about. I’d gone from graphic design to studio management to account management, to retail for a while (which is where I got into the people development), and more of the HR stuff I do now, and was like, ‘I don’t know what to do with my life – what’s next?’ I’m always looking for the next thing. I always want to be working towards something. I decided I wanted to study, part time, because I couldn’t afford to not work full time. So, I did a business degree, with a major in marketing.
On career motivations:
EH: I’m mostly motivated by recognition. I was very clear I wanted to use my skills for good and not for evil. I didn’t want to work on marketing for a product I didn’t believe in. Or for a company whose values weren’t aligned to mine. I needed some experience and was prepared to put in the hard yards to get where I needed to go, but I was really lucky I found Solterbeck (Achievers affiliate) early on in my degree and was able to use my skills for good.
I enjoy working in such a positive side of HR. For me it’s about creating that employee experience and brightening someone’s day. And we just happen to have a tool that facilitates that.
On learning and working as a woman:
EH: I’ve been pretty lucky, in that I’ve worked with great people, and had opportunities regardless of my gender. I worked in the print industry for a long time, it felt very much like a boys’ club. There were client nights, for example, I didn’t go to, because it wasn’t appropriate for a woman to go. Yeah – very much a boy’s club, at times. More recently, I see it still exists – you look at Australian politics as an example, where it’s massive. Part of me choosing who I work with, and the culture of an organisation, and doing a lot of that research before I actually accept a job, is to ensure I work for an organisation that shares the same values I do. I think there’s changes – I don’t think there’s enough change. We need to create more awareness. Hire more women. Hire women into leadership roles. Develop women into leadership roles. Create flexible work environments, so that everyone can be a part of it.
On valuable life lessons:
EH: It’s probably to trust my gut: and I don’t always – as we don’t. But to know when something doesn’t feel right. Or to know that the butterflies excited kind of feeling can be good. That, if you’re taking a risk and things are a bit scary, that’s the opportunity for growth. The other thing is being really clear on your values, and what’s important to you. I did some work to know what mine are, and it made decisions after that so much easier.
In a previous role, there was lots of feedback I received around having a voice: like going to a meeting and not saying a single thing, not voicing my opinion because I didn’t feel my opinion was valued, or that I had anything important to say, and now I probably take over meetings with my opinion. I feel much more confident and realise that I know my stuff and can voice an opinion. And it doesn’t have to be an opinion that everyone agrees with or that sits well with others and I’m OK with that, too.
On being confident:
EH: I am absolutely confident now. I believe very much in the power of language, and it comes from thinking about the impact your language has on other people. When you think about bullying, and the effect it has on people, and how that stays with some people for life, or has tragic consequences: you should always be thinking about the power of language. Then there’s the power of your language when you’re talking to yourself, or about your goals. Self-doubt is absolutely there.
EH: The self-doubt? Absolutely! The conversation inside my head is sometimes very different to the conversation outside my head, and I wouldn’t want to hear anyone else speaking about themselves the way I sometimes speak about myself in my head. My goals are not ‘I want to…’, or ‘I’ll try…’ . They are ‘I will…’. I’m not going to ‘try’, or it’s not ‘kind of right’ – it’s either right or it’s not right, and ‘I will’ not ‘I’ll try’.
Part of overcoming self-doubt and accomplishing your goals is surrounding yourself with the right people. You make choices about who you hang out with, and who you spend time with, and in a sense who you surround yourself with at work, as well. You surround yourself with people who will lift you up. But also, I think having some coping mechanisms – so whether that’s going for a walk, or going to the gym, or buying yourself something nice – whatever that treat for yourself, or coping mechanism might be – be aware of that and use those when you need to.
On introvert versus extrovert:
EH: I’ve done personality tests throughout my career, and I always get the same results: INFJ. And if you Google that…that is me. I am social in small groups; I like time by myself; I can present to a client and look absolutely professional and nail it and say super intelligent things; and then I’ll go and spill my drink down my front. It just is 100 percent who I am.
I absolutely have been in jobs where that ‘being social’ thing, and the massive amounts of client entertainment, and all of that was expected. I thought I needed to get over myself, or to change who I was, in order to fulfill that role, and then I realised that just wasn’t the culture I wanted to work in. I didn’t like being in that boozy, ad agency, kind of culture, because that wasn’t who I was. At the time, I was like, ‘I need to learn to like this, to be more like to be successful in my career’, and then as you get older you start to realise that life’s too short to work in a job that doesn’t fulfill you; doesn’t fill your cup. We spend a lot of time at work, and we spend a lot of hours doing what we do. I think it’s important you enjoy it, and it energises you, motivates you, and inspires you
On challenges facing women in the workplace today:
EH: Working for a global company there are definitely challenges in working with people from different countries and different cultures, and that their view of women in the workforce might be different to ours. There are challenges even down to the way you dress in the office. I don’t have kids, but there are a lot of challenges for women with kids in the workplace, and finding balance, and working flexibly, and all of that as well.
We’ve come such a long way – women weren’t allowed to vote and weren’t allowed to work once they got married. We have absolutely come a long way, but…
On how men can help:
EH: By being an advocate for women, and being a voice for women. Standing alongside women in the tech industry and helping to set them up. Being an advocate, being able to call out when things aren’t right, or when there’s a case of discrimination, or inequality – being that voice alongside women’s voices, to stand beside them. Stand up, speak up. Everyone needs to.
On best advice to others:
EH: Get clear on your vision of what you want, and then get clear on what you need to do to get there and start ticking off those things one by one. Make them small and achievable and make them measurable. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. The people who’ve made the biggest impact on my career, and life in general, are the people who’ve acted as a coach and just asked me questions.