We are delighted to feature Alexis Dodwell, non Executive Director at Total Risk Management Pty Ltd & Compliance Committee Member, in our Women in Leadership series in London.
Tell us about yourself and your career path to date
I did Economics/ Law at University and enjoyed both disciplines. I started off working in law and then moved across to Corporate Finance, working at both Ord Minnett and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. I very much enjoyed the fast paced, transactional environment of Corporate Finance. However, I was often surrounded by excel spreadsheets and financial models, which wasn’t for me. After working in project management (at SOCOG/ Sydney 2000 Olympics) and marketing (at KPMG) I discovered Risk and Compliance. Here I was able to combine and leverage both my legal and operational skills. I worked at Perpetual Limited for over a decade and for several of those years I was General Manager, Risk and Compliance. I have also consulted to other companies including Commonwealth Bank. I now have a portfolio of directorships (as a non-executive director) and compliance committees. I feel quite fortunate that I found a discipline I feel passionate about (Risk and Compliance) and that I also have a diverse skill base, as this has definitely helped in my senior executive roles and now as a non-executive director. I also mentor a few young and talented women in finance, which is very rewarding.
I have always played a lot of sport, particularly team-based sports, which teach you about yourself and others. I rowed for a number of years and competed at three national championships. I also went to the fencing national championships.
My husband Ben and I, also have a property design and development business. We have done several projects and most recently I was the project manager and interior designer for our home in Sydney. I have always been surrounded by architecture and design, so I guess you would say it’s in my blood and it’s something I very much enjoy.
What is your definition of success?
My definition of success is happiness and making a positive contribution. To me happiness is waking up content with yourself and your surroundings and having a purpose – something where you can feel as though you are making a contribution and adding value.
Which three words describe you?
Practical, collaborative and focused.
As a leader, who is your role model and why?
There are a lot of people who I admire – not one particular person. So my role model is a montage of many different people!
What is your biggest accomplishment of your career so far?
There is not one specific accomplishment that stands out. I feel as though I have had a number of successes and milestones. Two milestones that come to mind include transitioning back to work after maternity leave at Perpetual Limited as General Manager, Risk and Compliance and then more recently transitioning from being a senior executive to being a non-executive director and building up a portfolio of boards and committees.
In your opinion, what are the key challenges for a female leader and how could these be overcome?
I think one of the key challenges for female leaders is going back to work after children. I think women can sometimes lose their momentum and confidence.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
Give everything a go, but also start to identify what you really enjoy doing, which often correlates to your strengths and therefore what you are naturally good at. If you enjoy doing something, it’s so much easier, already you have an advantage and I think you are more likely to excel. Once you have worked this out, then it’s ok to say no to things, as this gives you time to focus on the things you are good at and to do them well.
Does your current organisation have initiatives to support women in leadership roles?
Absolutely! At the moment I have my own company and work for myself. I find my work as a non-executive director and compliance committee member very rewarding. I also have more flexibility and time to be a wife and mum.
What has been you biggest personal achievement outside of work?
Getting married and having a family. Watching two gorgeous girls grow up into kind and brave little people, who realise how fortunate they are and who will also hopefully find happiness and make a positive contribution.
What else would you like to achieve in your career?
In the short term, my aim is to to secure one more non-executive director role. In the medium to longer term, my aim to be on a non-executive director for an ASX 200 listed company.
What else would you like to achieve in your career?
I have just started working (pro bono) with a group of people focused on helping not for profit and charity boards by developing tools, templates etc. I would like to feel as though I have done more to support this sector.
Do you have any final pieces of advice for women looking to progress in their career?
Be proud of every piece of work you complete and make everything count, as it all helps you progress and achieve your goals. Don’t get caught up chasing salary and never accept a job just because for the money. If you are good at what you do and enjoy it, the money will follow. Do not be afraid to write down your career and personal goals, as this helps you to focus and to also hold yourself to account when necessary.
Connect with Alexis Dodwell on LinkedIn