Your Brilliant Career Podcast

The go-to resource for getting the most out of your career

This podcast provides an injection of energy and practical insights to women who are committed to their career. I share tactics, tools and stories that inspire capable women to think bigger and unapologetically achieve the success they deserve.

One of my early realisations was that there are many unwritten rules about career success that no one tells you. Smart women are tired of generic career tips. They want accessible, relevant and practical tips. Each episode includes content that inspires women to step up in their career and experience the energy and reward of being more.

Your Brilliant Career is a podcast that aims to help more women rise and reach new heights in their career.



For this podcast episode, I have invited three RISE participants. 

These women all work for the NSW Government and I’ve invited them because they are fantastic! But I also want you to hear their perspective on things.

We're going to be talking about their careers and this idea of career confidence. I will also be asking them about their RISE experience to give you some insights into what it looks like from a participant’s perspective.

This is a genuine chat with three women who value their careers. They have opinions and enrolled in the RISE program for very specific reasons. You might be surprised by how much they gained from their program experience and the new perspectives that they actually have about themselves and their careers.

Links we talked about on the podcast include:

RISE Accelerate program:

 My free guide - How to make your value more visible at work:

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Your transcript

Well, hello, and welcome back to another episode of Your Brilliant Career. It's so great to have you here.  

Now let me tell you what’s happening today. Today I have invited three RISE participants. For those that don’t know, RISE is our public women’s career advancement program. These women are all 2022 RISE alumni. Their names are Coralie, Janice, and Marianne. So four on the podcast. Look out today!

Now these women all work in NSW Government in the Department of Customer Service and I’ve invited them because they are fantastic, that part is pretty important. But I want you to hear their perspective on things. So we're going to be talking about their careers and this idea of career confidence and that alone is a subject that is close to the heart of many women.

I will also be asking them about their RISE experience, and this is not to oversell the program to you by any means. It is to give you some insights into what it looks like from a participant’s perspective. This is a genuine chat with three women who value their careers. They have opinions and have come to the RISE program for very specific reasons and you might be surprised by how much they gained from their program experience and the new perspectives that they actually have about themselves and their careers.

So, let’s dive in for this lovely conversation.

Gillian Fox:  Well Janice, Coralie, and Marianne, welcome to the podcast. It is a pleasure to have the three of you here today.

Coralie: Thank you.

Janice: Thank you

Marianne: Thank you.

Coralie: It's lovely to be here.

Gillian Fox: It's the biggest group I've ever had on the podcast. And of course, our challenge will be not chatting and laughing over each other, but let's get into things. I think a great place for us to start today is to do a brief introduction from each of you so our listeners know who is in the conversation today. And Marianne, you might kick-off for us.

Marianne: Sure. Hi, Gillian. It's lovely to be here. I'm Marianne Shields. I'm a communications professional for NSW Government. I'm an avid reader and a keen writer in my spare time. But prior to joining the public sector, I was a freelance content writer, and I've previously held roles in commercial strategy and project management, predominantly in the media industry.

Gillian Fox: Yeah, brilliant. I know you've got such an interesting background, Marianne. Love that. Janice.

Janice: Hi, Gillian. Hi, Coralie and Marianne. I'm Janice. I'm a communications and engagement leader working for NSW Government. I belong to the culturally and linguistically diverse background with English is my second language. So, I worked in Australia, in New Zealand and the Philippines

Gillian Fox: Yeah, wonderful. Wonderful. Thank you, Janice. And Coralie.

Coralie: I'm the social impact manager at Service New South Wales, and I'm joining you today from the beautiful Guringai land of Sydney's northern beaches. My pronouns are she/her. I've had a very diverse career to date. I've worked as a consultant, as a contractor, and in permanent roles in a variety of spaces from change management to communications, program management, and most recently privacy, information governance, and procurement, which was very different, I can tell you, to what I've done before. I learned a lot in that role. I've been very privileged to work in several places, including South Africa, London and Sydney. And what motivates me every day is to drive change. I love making change happen, and I'm very passionate about doing that.

Gillian Fox: Fantastic. Fantastic. What beautiful intros. Thank you. Now Janice, we're talking a little bit about confidence today. What is career confidence for you? What does it look like?

Janice: For me, the way I see it's simply feeling sure about yourself in the workplace, having that sense of belief that yes, you've got what it takes. You're here because you're here for a reason. You're here because someone said this is the job that you're meant to do. You're here because you have the abilities, and you have the skills and experience to be in this workplace. So, I think it's really about that sense of trust in yourself and sense of security. And it's more internal than external. Of course there's an element of what people say about you, and external validation, but I think career confidence really comes from within, and it's really something that you have and we all have to work every single day because you'll always have messaging that may give you that sense of doubt.

You might second guess yourself in terms of making decisions or second guess yourself in terms of taking action, but it has to come from within and having that belief.  

Gillian Fox: So Coralie, we all know that there are moments when we are tested. What are some of the strategies that you take to your career when you know need that confidence, you want to access that confidence because you know it's really important to your performance at that moment? What are some of the things you do?

Coralie: Yes. I think my main strategy is to remind myself that I've done it before, even if I've never done it before. And I know that sounds like it doesn't make sense. I'll explain it. There've been so many times through my career when I've been in a new industry or a new organization, new job, new project, and I've been asked to lead and deliver something that I've never done before and may not have that technical expertise or experience to do it. And you have that moment of panic where you're like, can I do this? And that's why I just remind myself, I've been in these situations before, I've done it before, so, therefore, I can do it again. We've all got this really great set of core capabilities that we can draw on and apply to anything that we do. So, it's really just tapping into those, making a start and I find that once I've started, I can then keep going and make it happen and deliver it.  

So yeah, reminding myself of that is really helpful. I think it's also feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable, so knowing that it's okay to not have all the answers, it's okay to test and learn, it's okay to work things out as you go along. And getting feedback from people. That's not always going to be glowing obviously, but every piece of feedback is something that you can take on board to grow and develop and improve yourself going forward. So yeah, definitely reaching out to people and asking for feedback as well.

Gillian Fox: Yeah. Yeah. Feedback can be very powerful at those sort of moments, or just some advice. Perspective can be helpful too.

Gillian Fox: Marianne, over to you. What do you think hinders women's ability to be confident in the workplace? What do you think stops it for them?

Marianne: This is such an interesting topic. And you've only got to Google confidence, women and confidence. There's so much research on what has been coined, the confidence gap between men and women and how underlying behavioural and social factors play out in the workplace. And according to this research, women are less self-assured than men, and succession or being successful in the workplace has a lot to do with being confident, just as it has to do with our skills and competence. And I find that really interesting. But the most interesting part I find when I read about this research is that men and women both suffer from self-doubt. It's not just a female thing, but how it's different for women is that we tend to allow that self-doubt to get in the way of us trying things.

And I think that what hinders us can be self-doubt, failure, fear of failure, and underestimating our abilities. All those things, I think if I reflect on my earlier career particularly, have reared their ugly head when I've had to make decisions, and I think that I have feared failure or appearing less than in the eyes of my bosses or my peers. And I feared that over just giving it a go. And I think for me being a mum, I think we all might be mums here, when I became a mum, I think I started to practice more what I was preaching, and that was to give it a go, to try because there is really no failing. It's either you succeed when you give it a go, or you learn, and you take those lessons, and you try and apply them next time. And I think that what Coralie and Janice have spoken about is recalling the things that we have done.

We wouldn't be in this position unless we have had successes. But I think often, we don't really gauge our skills and our competencies as being things that we should take a moment to sort of reflect on. And I think that confidence does come in many ways. And I think to draw on confidences outside of the workplace, the things that we do that aren't related to work, I think we should really take stock of those. And when we're in the workplace, we might be surrounded by those that we don't feel we're equal to. I think we need to take stock of the things, ourself as a whole being, as opposed to just someone in the workplace. I think we bring a lot to the table. Yeah, so I think it's looking at ourselves as a whole being and what we can accomplish.

Gillian Fox: How does that play out for you, Marianne, when you're talking about being a mum, and then thinking about your career and who you are as a multidimensional human being?

Marianne: Most definitely. I look at my experience holistically what I have achieved in a workplace, but what I've achieved in moving out of the city, moving overseas, moving to a regional location, finding a profession up here on the coast is something that I... That's actually an achievement for me. I've found work in my line of interest and to be able to build a network here. All those things add up to who you are as a person, and I think they can give you that confidence, whether it be explicit or implicit. And speaking to what Janice was saying, a lot of the confidence that we draw from ourselves does come from internal. And I think ultimately, a lot of people don't really spend much time thinking about other people. We're pretty ego-centric. We think about ourselves. So, if we spend too much time thinking about what others consider about us, it's actually quite futile, because ultimately, I think we're the ones that are spending the most time thinking about ourselves.

So for me, look, one of the things that I read in the research, because I think it's really key to a lot of women, I do, I suffer greatly from imposter syndrome every now and then, when you're given a task and you think, I just don't know if I can do this. So, I think we can all relate to that at different points in our life, in our career. But the good news is that research shows that with experience, women's confidence actually increases. And what I think is great about that is that the older we get, the more confidence we have. And this apparently happens more so with women than men. So, I think that's a great thing to kind of consider, that actually, the more experience that we are able to open ourselves up to trying, whether irrespective of how that might pan out, giving it a go means that we're only going to add more to our toolbox, and inadvertently, we're going to gain more confidence.

Gillian Fox: I love it. I think it's so true as well. It’s just that ability to go, what is the worst case scenario here? You know what I mean? That I won't nail it?

Marianne: Definitely.

Gillian Fox: Will it be okay? It'll be okay. And just drawing on your point around really using those successful experiences in your personal life to validate that you're capable of doing tough things, for many years, I used marathon running as that exact analogy, and I would use it for breaking down things. And I actually found it incredibly helpful. It's like if I can run a marathon and mentally break down that... And I never really saw myself as a runner, so I saw it as a great accomplishment. And that mental analogy, and people use sports analogies all the time, but that mental analogy was really great for me. It's like, no, no, no, I can step up here. This will be fine. And it was terrific for me in my early thirties using that. So, I think that's absolutely spot on. Let's keep talking about imposter syndrome.

Did you know that it is my number one most listened-to episode on this podcast? Because I think imposter syndrome is something that we were all curious about. I think it's something that everyone experiences, to be quite honest. But to your point, Marianne, in the research that you highlighted, it is that lingering self-doubt and the impact of that on us. So Janice, over to you. How have you navigated imposter syndrome?

Janice: We all experience it at every stage of our lives, I think. And I think it's more prominent when you're making such a big decision, whether it's a change of career or moving countries or embarking on a new chapter in your life, whether it's becoming a mum, or like with me, moving countries. So, one of the profound experiences I've had over the course of my career, and in my life really, is that I've moved quite a few countries already. And coming from the Philippines where... So, I moved to New Zealand, coming from the Philippines. I was the head of corporate communications already in the Philippines and have a comms background, comms qualifications, a comms master degree. Moving to New Zealand and having to carry that, oh my god, can I do this? Can I actually work in a country where English is the primary language and English is my secondary language?

And that really gave doubt in my ability, but then I had no choice. I have to find a job. So, you're put in a position where you just have to do it. I just had to do it. I just have to find a job. And I wanted to have a comms job. So, I just get applying for jobs. And for some reason, the universe gave me a comms job. It was a starting position, doesn't matter. But how I navigated that... Because I had that focus. I just wanted a comms job and put it out to the universe, please give me a comms job.

But I did my work.  So for me, knowing that someone believed in me at that point, just gave me a bit of confidence and tried to say, okay, maybe I can do this. So, that imposter syndrome just kept going throughout my career, even up to now, because I still have that in the back of my mind, English is my second language.  

Gillian Fox: I'd love to talk to you about the RISE experience because that's where we all met, and I loved working with each and each of you. And Coralie, let me start with you. Maybe after the first workshop, when you attended the first workshop, what did you decide you wanted to focus on? What did you think was going to be important to you at that point of your career and what you wanted to get out of the program?

Coralie: There were three things I really wanted to get out of the program. The first one was, how do I prepare myself or position myself even so that I can get an advancement opportunity in the space that I love working in and that I’m passionate about. And the second thing would be, how do I hold myself accountable for putting myself and my career first? It was Marianne who mentioned she thinks we're all mums here. I'm a mum. I'm a single mum, and I'm naturally a very loyal and dedicated person.

So, I think we can probably all relate, and lots of women can. I'm notoriously bad at not putting myself first. I come way down on the list. And one of the key takeaways from this program for me was not only, can I prioritize myself and my career, but I should be doing that. And that's okay. So, that was the second thing, making myself accountable for my career. And the third one was sponsors, find those sponsors who have influence, who will support me and I think seeing how that plays out over time because you might have sponsors who are strong supporters, but who move and are no longer able to play that role for you. So, then it's finding new ones, hopefully. So, that's what I really wanted to get away from the program, those three things. How do I position myself? How do I make myself accountable? And how do I find those really great influential sponsors?

Gillian Fox: And do you feel like... I don't know how many months it's been now, Coralie. Maybe it's been what, four, five months since we finished? Would it be that long?

Coralie: I did the first program in 2022, so it's probably-

Gillian Fox: Okay. So, it'll be longer. It would be definitely longer. My question is, how do you feel you’re tracking to date with those things?

Coralie: I did, following that program, have an opportunity to act in a director's role for six months, and that was a really great learning experience, and obviously one that does position me for that kind of role in the future. So, it's just about where do I find that role doing the kind of work that I like, right? So, tracking in that respect. And I think I've become a lot better at not being afraid to talk about what it is that I want and where I want to go.

Gillian Fox: Good. I love that. That's good.

Coralie: And not feel guilty about that, but also make it more visible, because I'm one of these people who just gets on with it in the background, isn't looking for those accolades and recognition. But I think as we all know, people aren't necessarily going to notice what you do. So, I've become a lot better at raising that visibility of what me and my team does to others in the business and beyond that. So, there is that awareness of the great work that's happening in our space. So yeah, I think I've definitely improved in a number of areas, but there's probably still a ways that I can go.

Gillian Fox: Well, we're all a work in progress, just to be clear.

Coralie: Absolutely.

Gillian Fox: They're great reflections for you. And yeah, it sounds like you're doing extremely well. Has it made you feel more confident? Do you feel like you've got more confidence in your career versus the beginning of 2022 when you did the program?  

Coralie: I think it probably has given me that confidence. Going back to what I said before, my main strategy is tapping into... I know I can do it even if I haven't done it before, because I stepped into a new space and was able to lead and deliver there. So, that has given me an enormous amount of confidence in my abilities. And I have noticed that even in my role that I'm in now, I'm working at a different level to what I was before.  

Gillian Fox: They are the moments though, that create those confidence moments. Because then you look back and you go, but I did it. I did pull it off, even though it felt awkward, and I questioned myself throughout that period. So, well done. Well done. Marianne, what about you? Tell us about your RISE experience.

Marianne: I think it was, for me, about being career conscious. While I've always set goals and set out to achieve those goals, and that's personally and professionally, I guess by career conscious, I mean being more aware of my career and what's surrounding me, what can influence me or what can influence my career. What are the things that are around me that can have an impact on my career as well? So, things like, Coralie mentioned sponsors. I think I'm at a point where, for me, it's the first step of building really strong professional relationships within my network, opening myself up to working with different people within my organisation who I really value, to learn from them.

From the workshop, but also through the whole program, particularly speaking with you one-on-one, Gillian, one of the key things that came out of the whole program for me was giving myself permission to define what a successful career looks like for me, as opposed to a successful career for someone else. So we often hear, particularly for women, grab every opportunity you get.

And I think that that can kind of, for me anyway, send mixed messages. So, I might have a really full-on personal life, there might be a lot going on, and the timing may not make sense. But from someone else's point of view, they'd say, "You'd be crazy not to take this," a comment to step up and that kind of thing. And for me, whereby I do want to perform at a certain level... And I know what that level is for myself. I know when I go home, I'm going to give myself a bit of a, you did an eight out of 10 today, or whatever it is. It's not critical, but it's like, where did you sit today?

Maybe not every day, but you check in and you give yourself a bit of a score. But a bit like what Coralie was saying, those opportunities to act up, while they are so positive in so many respects, if you come from a point where you kind of know your space, you've built up confidence, once again, because you've got the skills and the confidence to back you, you’ve got the evidence, as Janice mentioned, you can refer to that and go, "I know I can do this." But when you step into a role, I think without meaning to, I probably put pressure on myself to perform at a certain level. So, for me, defining what success looks like for me was really key, and that I may want to achieve a certain thing, but maybe not now. Maybe it's going to be a bit later. And giving myself permission and time to do that was actually a really nice experience. I remember we did the timeline and we worked out, okay-

Marianne: It was incredibly helpful to sort of set that out and to see how you can integrate your family, the things you want to do outside of work with your career. I think for a long time, I was expecting a lot from my career, that it would give me all these different things. But now I realise... And I've mentioned whole person holistic a little bit in this chat today, but I think it's really key, even speaking to Janice's point of meditation and yoga, I think those things are really key for who we are as a person. It centres you before your day at work, when anything can be thrown at you. So for me, it's defining what success looks like for me at any given point and giving myself permission to make that decision to say, "Not now, but maybe later," and being okay with that. Definitely being responsible for my own professional development. knowing my worth and knowing what value I bring to work every day is super-duper key. And I think when we are conscious of our career journey, it allows us to more likely achieve our ideal professional journey.

Gillian Fox: Yeah. Yeah. There's so many great insights in that. You know what I mean? There are moments in your life where you don't get the promotion, but it doesn't make you an underperformer. It doesn't make you drop your standards. You're still going to be fantastic in your space, still developing yourself and growing in lots of ways. And when you're ready to do whatever, if you decide that's what you want to do, then that's what you want to do. And I think having that clarity, it stops the negative banter in your head going, are you letting yourself down? Are you really working to your full potential here? And you can focus on being good in your space and building your reputation, the relationship and all the things is still is going to enable a great career. Yeah, so it's great.

Gillian Fox: Janice, what did you get from the program?

Janice: Well, I got so many things, but I think at the end of it, clarity of where I am and how I want to navigate this year, year 2023. So last year, the program was amazing. It gave me a lot of space. It really was giving me that space to think and really reflect on who I am, giving me an idea of sponsorship and using the program itself to increase my visibility in the organisation. So, I used that as a leverage. That was the second thing. And the last thing was, as we were speaking, I think it was our last session, Gillian, at the end of the year, it's like, "I don't know what I want. I really want to step up. I want to do this." And we talked about curiosity. Why don't you just start 2023 to be a year of curiosity? And I've added to that after we've discussed. It's a year of curiosity and consolidation, because the last few years, I've done a lot of stuff.

I changed my roles. I'm no longer just in a constant engagement role, I've expanded my role as an executive officer/principal advisor. I've learned NLP, I've had major life-changing career, life-changing moments in the last three years, personal life changings. So, I felt like this year would be just bringing it all together, consolidating and applying a bit of curiosity and see where it leads me because I had that focus. I want to do this. I want to step up. But then maybe it's not what I really want, because we did talk about it. It's like, is that really what you said? I really don't know. But at least it's allowing me the space. No, it's not that I don't know. I know enough. I just need more time to really articulate it in a way that it's very clear for me.

Gillian Fox: So, what would you say to other women considering the RISE program? Marianne, what do you reckon you'd say?

Marianne: I would say that if they are interested in clarifying what it is that they're hoping to get out of their career, whether they would join you in the workshop, in the program, in their role, whether they want to stay in that role or move on. I think it would be an opportunity for people to stop, reflect on where they've come from and where they'd like to go, but to think more about their career holistically, as opposed to them in their current role, to think more broadly. And I think that's what the program does. It allows you to take stock of who you are, what you bring, and what you could achieve ore outside of where they currently are sitting. So, whatever position they're sitting in, to think more broadly.

Gillian Fox: Yeah. Wonderful. That's a nice summary. Coralie, what about you? What would you say?

Coralie: I'd say if you've got the opportunity to go on the RISE program, I'd say definitely take it. It gives you time and head space to focus on yourself and your career, which often, as busy working women, we don't have. The personal brand survey exercise that you go through in the program and the one-on-one coaching sessions are both brilliant and you will absolutely get a lot out of it.

Gillian Fox: Yeah, wonderful. Thank you. Thank you. And Janice?

Janice: Well, for those women who are thinking of joining the RISE program, first, put your hand up and tell your boss, "Yes, I want to do the RISE program." It really gives you a good program, four-month program that gives you different tools that you can access as you navigate your career, whether you are just starting, whether you're considering a leadership role, whether you are in a leadership role. And the focus of the program is really about women. And I think that's really important because we need to understand the context in the world that we are living in, and navigate the issues that we all experience as women in the workplace.  

Gillian Fox: Yeah. Beautiful. Beautiful. Well, thank you so much. It has been a delight having you on the podcast today. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, and also your insights around RISE.

Janice: Thank you.

Marianne: Thank you.

Coralie: Thank you.