To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Leadership. They will be discussing their success, career defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Yvette Gray, General Manager, People & Culture at APRA, had to say.
Currently General Manager, People & Culture at APRA, Yvette has experience in executive HR roles across professional and financial services. Prior to joining APRA in 2016 Yvette worked at Westpac, Allens and Macquarie where she held global roles working across 22 countries as Global HR Director for both the Asset Management Group and the Risk Management Group. Originally from the UK where her career was in HR Consulting and Executive Search, Yvette is a passionate and versatile HR leader who energises her team and has lots of fun along the way.
What factors do you think have been critical to the success you have achieved in your career?
Courage is definitely one. Some times you need to take a breath, feel the fear and do it anyway! Raise your hand in the air and seize opportunities when they present themselves. Hanging around on the side lines hoping someone notices you doesn't work, you need to be alert and looking and asking for opportunities. Secondly I think resilience and grit have been important, the ability to bounce back, refresh, reframe and keep going. There are always lots of ways to approach a problem, look at things from a different angle, think about other perspectives, how what you are doing is being received, what's the experience of those around you etc. and I'm not someone who is defeated easily! And third, but by no means third important has been having the good fortune to work with some incredible people and teams at all levels across organisations I've been in. They have helped change and shape me to be the best leader I can be today and I have learnt a lot, had lots of fun and been inspired by many along the way while navigating lots of bumps in the road. I'm not sure you ever really reach a place where you stop learning and improving as a leader - I learn things from my current amazing team and all those around me at APRA every day.
What initiatives have you experienced within an organisation that you believe have helped you?
The opportunity to work in global roles as part of the HR leadership team at Macquarie gave me insight into working with people across many cultures and helped me think much more strategically about the impact of change initiatives we were implementing - how they would resonate with different groups of employees across different cultures and how we would get the outcomes the organisation needed with the right balance for our people. It can't be one size fits all for a global audience yet often some form of consistency of approach is required so striking this balance can be tricky. This exposure has been invaluable in helping me think through other challenges that I've grappled with at other points in my career.
Can you highlight any career defining moments?
6 weeks after joining Macquarie as a Senior HR Manager in the Risk Management Group the Global Head of HR left unexpectedly for personal reasons. I psyched myself up and did what I mentioned above, took a deep breath, went to see the CRO and put my hand in the air and asked for the opportunity. I have never looked back!
What advice would you share with females on how to progress their careers within Leadership?
I think I've said it already but don't worry about being 10/10 ready for the next opportunity, back yourself - what's the worst case scenario? You may at worst get some great feedback out of the process. And the other thing is, be self-aware. Think about your impact, your presence, your voice, the message you want to convey - and work on these things - so you can either dial them up or dial them down when needed to ensure you create and leave positive feelings and impressions with people around you as this is how they will remember you.