Meet Licia Heath the CEO of Women for Election Australia In an exclusive interview with The Tycoon Magazine Licia shed light on her career journey, challenges for women in politics and in the corporate world, and her perspective & advice to tackle them.
Below are the highlights of an interview between Licia Heath and The Tycoon Magazine
Team TM Kindly brief us about your current role and your journey since the beginning of your career.
Licia: I’ve had wonderful diversity across my career. From studying a Bachelor of Science (Hydrologic engineering major) at University; travelling overseas and discovering the financial services sector, which over a 20 year career saw me start as a runner on a trading floor to being part of a team that established and grew an asset management firm into a multi-billion dollar organization; to now being the CEO of a not-for-profit. That variety in roles and breadth of experience has exposed me to many sectors and helped form my views on what’s important in a career.
Team TM – How do you describe yourself in one-word or one-sentence?
Licia: Determined, with a good mix of humor and tenacity.
Team TM – What is your source of motivation?
Licia: The knowledge that engagement in politics, particularly by those less represented in our governments, improves the health of our democracies.
Team TM – Kindly tell us about the challenges you faced to withstand the complexities of the industry?
Licia: I’ve been working in the not-for-profit space now for two years. Somewhat naively, I thought a lot of my corporate experience would translate perfectly into my new sector. Whilst some skills have been helpful, I’ve had to learn more on the job than I’d anticipated. At times this has challenged my patience and self-belief but it’s also strengthened my resilience and resolve.
Team TM – What are the frequent challenges faced by women in the corporate world and what are the ways to tackle them?
Licia: In Australia, there are a number of challenges faced by women, not just in the corporate world but across the full working spectrum – and nearly all of those challenges have policy solutions. Australia has one of the most expensive childcare schemes in the OECD costing parents on average 25% of net income (vs 11% OECD average) and the least generous, most gendered parental leave (18 weeks vs 55 weeks). This has resulted in Australia having one of the highest part-time workforce participation rates; women retiring with, on average, 40% less superannuation, and women over 55 comprising the fastest growing segment of our homelessness population. It’s also led to Australia falling from 15th to 45th on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index.
Something that’s often forgotten, is that our gendered policies (upholding and perpetuating a male breadwinner/female carer culture) aren’t serving men either. In Australia, the highest cause of death amongst men 18-45 is suicide, over 80% of which is linked to financial issues, or recent or pending unemployment.
These challenges all have policy solutions. Appropriate policies are only implemented if those at the decision-making table have lived-experience in these situations; otherwise they’re blind to the problems in the first place.
Team TM – Kindly describe in detail about your company and its unique services/products.
Licia: Women for Election Australia is a non-partisan, not-for-profit which aims to strengthen our democracy by increasing the number, influence and diversity of women in politics in Australia and engaging more women in the political process. It does this by providing the very best training and support for women to enable them to enter political life, run for office, support electoral campaigns and move up the ladder to higher elective and appointed office.
Team TM – Brief us about the current industry scenario from your perspective.
Licia: In Australia, 37% of our state/territory MPs, 37% of our Federal MPs and 35% of our local Councilors are women. Without equal representation of women and diverse voices in our Parliamentary chambers, perspectives of the majority of our population are not reflected in policy and legislation. With a balance of women and men in Parliament, sharing their lived experience and perspectives, we could move swiftly to solve some of these entrenched policy barriers that are preventing progress for many in our communities.
Team TM – What are your past experiences, achievements or lessons that have shaped your journey?
Licia: In 2018 I ran for election myself. It was in the federal seat of Wentworth after our local member, who was also the Prime Minister, resigned after an extraordinary political upheaval. Running in that election was one of the most positive experiences of my life (exactly the opposite of what most people told me it would be). It was during that campaign that I had scores of women approach me and urge me to keep going and also ask me if they could buy me a coffee in the future to ask how they could run one day. It was at that point that I realized what an opportunity we had at Women for Election Australia to expand our offering and empower women across the country.
Team TM – What are your strategies to contribute effectively in hyper competitive market?
Licia: Forge strong relationships with your clients. Build rapport and trust. Demonstrate through your actions that not only is your ‘product’ worthy of their consideration, the service they’ll receive from you along the sales process is second-to-none.
Team TM –How do you see yourself in the near future? Tell us about your future goals.
Licia: Our focus at WFEA currently is to help 2000 women to run for public office by 2022. It’s an ambitious goal but all our energy is being put into building the capacity of women, from all backgrounds and lived-experience, to consider running whilst also giving them the tangible skills to succeed in their campaign.
Team TM – What would you advise young women to succeed in the workplace or as an entrepreneur? How do you perceive the role of mentorship to aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Licia: Understand your market and what drives your competitors and your clients. Then set up your objectives based on those needs and your ability to differentiate yourself. Then work like hell! Success isn’t about throwing out lofty goals and hoping you get there; it’s about incremental improvement every day, following your strategy and executing. Whilst mentoring is important (be it formal or informal) also listen to your instinct. I spent too many years ignoring my internal voice about what I could be capable of if I just gave it a try.
My main advice to young women would be: listen to that voice.