To celebrate International Women’s Day for 2023, we sat down with one of our emerging female leaders Laura, our People & Culture Manager.
Starting with Police Credit Union over four years ago as a People & Culture Generalist, Laura moved into the Manager role shortly after returning from six months of maternity leave. She now leads a high performing team, People and Culture, to attract, develop and retain great people to deliver a customer experience that is second to none.
What made you pursue a role in People & Culture?
I didn’t set out to have a career in Human Resources (HR) – I sort of fell into it. I started in retail and hospitality, then moved into a call centre environment where I had an opportunity to move into recruitment. HR was the natural progression from there and now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else! I love the variety and challenges. There is always something new to learn.
What is a career highlight or special memory you have from your time at Police Credit Union?
I have the opportunity to work with exceptional leaders and a high performing team who I learn from every day. I have built on my skills and confidence in my time with a good balance of challenge and support. Stepping into the manager role has really challenged me, but also helped me to grow.
The year I won a High Achiever of the Year award and the People & Culture team won Department of the Year at our annual Staff Celebration Night was really special. Another huge highlight was getting to be a clown in the Christmas Pageant!
What are some of your favourite things about working at Police Credit Union?
The people – I work with the most amazing team of smart, capable, funny women who are passionate about achieving our team’s goals and helping others succeed. It’s not just my team- there are amazing people working across PCU. I love the way PCU genuinely cares about its people and the flexibility and support I have received in my time here.
What are your tips for leading a high performing team?
Most importantly, you have to be approachable and available, to collaborate with your people and to provide any support. You need to know what is important to individuals’ happiness and engagement. It’s critical to give people autonomy and trust so they feel empowered. Every morning, our team has a quick meeting to chat about what we want to achieve for the day. This keeps us accountable. We also regularly meet to discuss our progress on our strategic priorities and celebrate our successes and learn from our mistakes.
What are your tips for young women who are wanting to pursue a leadership role in the banking industry?
If you’re thinking about it – do it! The banking industry is an essential service. The industry has a strong learning and development focus. If you want a long-term career and opportunities to grow, there are heaps of different pathways, depending on what you enjoy and are interested in. Speak up about your career goals and grab the opportunities as they arise.
The banking industry has a strong compliance focus being heavily regulated. As human beings, we’re bound to make mistakes, but reframing these as opportunities to be accountable, learn and grow will reflect positively on you and help you progress. Making decisions that are driven by your values (i.e. honesty and integrity) and conducting yourself in a positive way, reflects a positive personal brand and the brand of your employer and therefore you’re bound to have success.
How do you balance a busy work life and home life?
I’m not going to lie – It can be tough! I am very lucky to have a wonderful husband who has taken on the role of stay-at-home Dad, so I can focus on my career. He is an amazing father and a great cook (the way to my heart is through my stomach!) and if we have a bad night, he will get up with our son so I can get enough sleep. When I’m at home, I properly switch off from work to be fully present with my family. I prioritise looking after myself and make sure I get enough sleep, drink lots of water and go for walks at lunch time (as it can be hard to fit exercise in otherwise!)
The theme for this International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. Why do you believe it’s important for organisations like Police Credit Union to embrace Equity?
It’s important to acknowledge that in a workplace, you have people from all walks of life, and this diversity is a great thing. Different perspectives, ideas and skills make better outcomes for our Members. By being proactive and supporting each employee as an individual, with individual needs, we can help them to succeed and in turn this will only serve to benefit our business too. In my team, we have a few part timers and a lot of working mums. We offer hybrid work arrangements and flexibility in their hours, so they can manage their family responsibilities and be there for the important moments that shouldn’t be missed. In turn, those employees feel valued and engaged and go over and above to do incredible things in their roles.
I feel proud to work for an organisation that gave me the opportunity to progress when I returned from maternity leave. Many women worry about how taking time off to have children might impact their careers. Stepping into a leadership role was one of the most challenging things I have ever done! However, I was able to work from home 3 days a week initially to help with the transition.
Some of the other great things we do at Police Credit Union include offering traineeships and work experience through companies like Barkuma, helping people with a disability to find work and purpose, as well as take a community or environment focused volunteer day.