Feel the fear and do it anyway

To recognise International Women’s Day 2022, we spoke to Corporate Traveller Key Customer Success Manager, Karla West about the fears and hopes of women in business.

Karla started with FCTG in a retail role in 2008, before spending the past 10 years with Corporate Traveller in Operations and then Account Management. After maternity leave, which coincided with COVID, Karla returned in 2021 to her current role with the flexibility of working from home one day a week. Inspired by one of her non-profit corporate clients, Karla was keen to give back to the community – leading her to take a hands-on role that she cherishes, as part of the Flight Centre Foundation’s working group.

What benefits do women bring to the workplace?

I think we have different skills and we naturally have a more empathetic and consultative manner. Plus working mothers are super organised, because we have to be! Productivity, the ability to prioritise and time management skills soar when you have limited hours in the workday.

What’s the most important business lesson you have learnt?

Failures do happen, but it’s how you respond to them that matters. Take ownership of it and move on.

What is the biggest barrier for women wanting to progress their career?

Our confidence and trust in our own ability. I think we tend to doubt ourselves a lot more than men and fear that we don’t have the skills needed – when we often do. Also ‘mum guilt’ is a real thing for women in the workforce! We fear that we can’t do it all properly – both career and parenting.

What deters many women from aspiring to top leadership roles?

A fear of failing and of not being good enough, or a fear of being overwhelmed by the time commitment involved. A mentor can help you overcome this lack of confidence and I think that Flight Centre Travel Group’s reward and recognition programs help, because sometimes we all need external recognition that you’re doing a good job.

What advice would you give to women considering their next career move?

Find a role you can make your own and one that you truly enjoy. I didn’t find my true niche until I discovered account management, which I just love. So don’t be afraid to try different roles if you have the opportunity.

How do you achieve a good work/life balance?

I try to leave work on time and not check emails after hours. Going to the gym is also an essential stress release for me.

‘Break the Bias’ is the IWD theme for 2022, what does it mean to you?  

There is still a lot of gender bias in business, evidenced by the low numbers of women in CEO roles in Australia. I remember organising an International Women’s Day lunch for the business a few years ago and I really struggled to find women in senior roles to attend. I think part of the issue is that gender stereotypes are instilled in us from birth. You also see stereotypes in a clearer light once you become a mother yourself, especially gender roles around parenthood. I don’t know that it will ever happen, but it would be great to see men taking parenting leave in the same numbers as women!