Women and Leadership at Versent: Andrea Milner
This blog post forms part of our series, ‘Women and Leadership at Versent’. Stay tuned for more interviews from our female leaders over the next few weeks where we enquire about their careers and current role, how they balance their work and life, and the values that they see to be most important in leadership and future workplaces.
Andrea Milner began her career at 18 as a trainee at PWC, where she worked full-time concurrently to her Bachelor of Accounting degree. Today, Andrea is the General Manager of Finance at Versent and enjoys the dynamic pace of working in the tech industry. We sat down with her to chat about what it means to be a compassionate leader, advocating for social change, and a moment that she’s felt most proud throughout her career:
How would you describe your leadership style and philosophy?
“To be a good leader is to be courageous and compassionate. I am fortunate to be in a position where my husband is the stay-at-home parent, enabling me to focus on my work, take different opportunities and most importantly, network. However, I understand for most women, this is not the case. Not all women are able to take an opportunity whether it’s to learn more or network outside of work hours because their priority is to be at home or with their children, and that’s fine. As a leader, it’s my job to overemphasise this societal difference and to get creative to ensure the people I lead are still getting that exposure despite the constraints of having to balance their home life with their career.
“On top of that, we are so quick to assume that working parents, women, in particular, will not accept an opportunity because they are busy with their kids and don’t have the time, so they aren’t afforded the opportunity, to begin with. Just ask! Offer it to them, make the space and time available. The whole concept of “If you can’t network, you can’t get ahead” is flawed because not everyone can devote time outside of work hours. As a leader, you have the power to enable working parents to be afforded the same career-defining opportunities as everybody else, during working hours. It’s one of the reasons I love working in the tech industry – it’s such a progressive and dynamic industry that likes to challenge the status quo to constantly evolve and improve the world”.
What does a typical day for you look like?
“I’m a morning person, so first thing at 7am, I will go for a walk or run and actively try to keep my steps up throughout the day. Then I’ll come back and help my husband get the kids ready for school with breakfast and packing their lunches. If I’m working from home, I’ll log on at 9am. 80% of my day consists of meetings; regular, committee, advisory-type meetings. In finance we have a routine schedule, with month end and forecasts, and each week there is a new deliverable or focus. I’ll sit in the sun over my lunch break to clear my mind before I dive back into an afternoon of meetings. I like to connect with people and take on a coaching role with my team, meaning that I’ll always be available to help them address an issue or support another senior leader of the business.
“I finish work at around 6 pm, where I’ll take our Kelpie, Rosie, for a 45 minute walk where I reflect on the day and what I am grateful for. It’s a chance to park any stress or work issues so I can be present for home life. Once home I help get dinner sorted, kids into bed and then logon and do another hour or two of work to prepare for the next day. I find in the evening I can think best as I am relaxed and not distracted by Slack! Some nights I enjoy just switching off and watch Netflix with my husband.”
What has been your most proud and career-defining moment?
“I’m proud to be part of the leadership team at Versent throughout 2020 during the pandemic. Despite the uncertainty, I led a team that delivered, was productive, and has maintained that momentum throughout our time together. We lent a helping hand to other teams, and though the last 12 months have been tough, I’m so proud of them and the way they took on the challenges with mental and physical vigour and delivered value to the whole business.”
What’s a piece of advice you would give to leave for women beginning their careers in the tech/corporate industry?
“Don’t be afraid to take risks. There are great life-changing opportunities that will come your way. Take them because the only way you’ll truly grow is when you’re put outside your comfort zone. If it doesn’t quite work out, it’s okay, at least you gave it a go and no doubt learnt a thing or two. You find your strength and confidence by doing a variety of different things. At BHP Billiton, I had seven different roles in seven years. I worked in a new space with different people. Back yourself up and be confident in your skillset; I don’t think I would be where I am today if I played it safe.
“When I was younger, I didn’t care too much about mental and physical health and the importance of picking your battles. Now, I’m calmer and reassess the whole situation before I put the energy into reacting. I have chronic pain, so prioritising my mindfulness and wellbeing is incredibly important. Put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help others. If you’re not at your peak and doing your best, then how can you be helpful without hurting yourself? Eat well, exercise regularly, and take moments to breathe.”
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