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Women in leadership

Rebecca Brennan is Engineering & Maintenance Manager for Crown Melbourne. She is currently completing an Advanced Leadership Program through Women & Leadership Australia (WLA), for which she received a partial scholarship. The FMA is proud to support this WLA initiative, which provides developmental opportunities for women working in the property and facilities sector.

We spoke to Rebecca about the leadership course, as well as the challenges facing women in FM and how to progress in a male-dominated profession.

Do you think there are particular leadership challenges for women in the FM sector? If so, what are they?
I think there are leadership challenges for women in most sectors, but probably more so in FM due to the male-dominated nature of the industry. Traditionally, FM was a man in the basement of a building who attended to minor maintenance tasks. The industry has evolved over the past couple of decades, especially in the risk and compliance, tenancy engagement, and technology spaces, and I believe this has led to more females entering the industry. I have been fortunate enough to work within companies that really value diversity and invest in developing female talent, but I have also worked in extremely masculine environments and have seen the destruction this can bring in terms of retaining and developing women.

Why are you participating in the course?
Over the years, I have worked in companies and within teams that have had great leaders who I have admired immensely. These experiences inspired me to really look at what makes a great leader, so I applied for the Advanced Leadership Program with WLA so that I could explore this more. I knew learning about my own leadership style would ultimately result in me becoming a more effective leader.

What has been the most helpful thing that you have learned?
One module that stuck in my mind was about how to develop resilience. Prior to studying this, I believed resilience came from hardship, so I found this module to be very interesting. I think it’s quite an invaluable lesson that resilient companies are made from resilient people.

Would you recommend this program to other women?
Absolutely. The program content is so relevant to those in leadership roles. I have found that the structure of having webinars, workshops and coaching (peer and professional) means that I have not only been supported on many levels, but have also been provided the opportunity to share experiences and challenges with the other program participants.

What career or leadership tips would you give to women looking to progress in the FM sector?
Make it known that you want to progress into a leadership role and actively work towards it. If you don’t feel supported by your manager, seek out someone else in the company to talk to or join a mentor program. Having networks in place and guidance along the way is invaluable, no matter what sector you are in.

For more information about Women & Leadership, visit www.wla.edu.au.

This article was originally published in Facility Perspectives, Vol 13 No 3.