International Women’s Day - career tips from our 5 female CEOs

In the lead up to International Women’s Day on 8 March our CEOs are raising awareness of the lack of gender equality around the world.

News

6 Mar 2017 | AU

In a stark contrast to gender inequality trends in leadership roles, international development charity WaterAid currently has five female Chief Executives around the world. In the lead up to International Women’s Day on 8 March they are raising awareness of the lack of gender equality around the world, particularly in developing countries. 

There are 3.7 billion women and girls in the world, but how many of the world’s top 50 companies are run by women? Zero. WaterAid believes women are crucial to driving change and is proud to invest in women’s leadership – in the community-based groups where it works and in its offices around the world. 

Globally, women and girls bear the burden of walking long distances every day to collect water for their families, babies die as a result of mothers giving birth in unhygienic health care facilities and girls miss and drop out of school because there are no appropriate menstrual hygiene services. Access to clean water and safe sanitation frees women’s time and improves health, enabling them to pursue a career, take up leadership roles in their community, to get an education, and take steps out of poverty.

WaterAid's female CEOs

L- R: Rosie Wheen, Australia; Nicole Hurtubise, Canada; Cecilia Chatarjee-Martinsen, Sweden; and Barbara Frost, UK

New WaterAid Australia Chief Executive Rosie Wheen was appointed in November 2016. Today, WaterAid’s Chief Executives in America, United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada and Australia are all female. Here, they give their advice for women and girls to reach their goals.

“WaterAid is proud that women are central to WaterAid’s work around the world, and that most of our Chief Executives are women. I encourage young women starting their careers to trust in themselves and be passionate about their vision,” said WaterAid Australia Chief Executive Rosie Wheen.  

“By 2030 I’d like to see a world where all women have access to water and sanitation, equal rights, equal opportunities, and are living healthy lives out of poverty and are free to make choices,” said Ms Wheen.  

Watch a video of WaterAid’s Chief Executives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjsTt_bYl4c

Top ten tips from WaterAid female CEOs

1 – Believe in Yourself

“I think that we teach young girls to doubt themselves. For some reason, the way that we bring up our girls doesn’t inspire confidence in themselves. So I would say just give it a go - you can do it.”
Rosie Wheen, WaterAid Australia Chief Executive 

2 – Take Risks
“Take some big risks, have a big vision and believe in yourself.”
Barbara Frost, WaterAid UK Chief Executive Officer

3 – Find Your Passion
“Go out and try and find your passion, it’s when you have that passion and that commitment that you can actually make a difference.”
Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, WaterAid Sweden Chief Executive

4 – Find a Mentor
“Find a mentor, find someone you believe in, someone you trust who can accompany you on your path.”
Nicole Hurtubise, WaterAid Canada Chief Executive 

5 – Be Resilient
“Have courage and resilience. Keep believing in yourself even when it’s tough, even when others don’t believe in you - and even when you don’t believe yourself - just keep at it.”
Sarina Prabasi, WaterAid America Chief Executive 

6 – Leave your comfort zone
“The sky is not going to fall in if you make a mistake. You will actually learn more from giving it a go and getting yourself out of your comfort zone. What I have really found is 80% of success is just giving it a go.” 
Rosie Wheen, WaterAid Australia Chief Executive 

7 – Say Yes
“Try out new things, it’s ok to fail, but just go out there, say yes, be brave and try out. You will make a change if you really want to.”
Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, WaterAid Sweden Chief Executive

8 – Give It Your All
“Really believe in what you’re doing, do a job that plays to your heart, to your values, so that you’ll give it your all.”
Barbara Frost, WaterAid UK Chief Executive Officer

9 – Be Patient
“Be kind to yourself, you can’t change the world overnight - you can influence bits of it at a time, but it can’t be done overnight.”
Nicole Hurtubise, WaterAid Canada Chief Executive 

10 – Smile 
“You need determination, a really, really good sense of humour, and self-confidence of course… Remember to smile - smile through adversity.” 
Nicole Hurtubise, WaterAid Canada Chief Executive

Working for WaterAid Australia since its inception in 2004, Rosie Wheen was most recently WaterAid Australia’s Director of International Programs, leading programs and a large team of people in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Solomon Islands and Myanmar. Rosie has 20 years’ experience working in the not for profit sector including six years living and working in Indonesia and working for the Australian Council of International Development. 

View film: https://youtu.be/4pbMXTFzVQc