16 July 2019
Are you ready to Thrive? Our She Leads Conference delivers a fresh and innovative approach to women’s leadership development. It gives aspiring, developing and established women, female-identifying and non-binary leaders, the opportunity to develop skills, knowledge and networks to amplify their leadership journey alongside their career.
In this interview we talk to Zakia Patel, one of our speakers at the upcoming 2019 She Leads Conference.
Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.
Over the last ten years, I have had various leadership roles, such as Team Leader and Deputy Unit Commander. Recently I was appointed as the Unit Commander for the Queanbeyan (NSW) SES Unit.
What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?
My biggest leadership challenge is feeling comfortable and confident in my role. I still find myself doubting the decisions I have made and double guessing myself. Another challenge I face is working with difficult people who question you. I have had an SES member tell me to not work on a roof as they want one of the strong male team members instead. I have also had a team leader tell me it is my responsibility to clean out the rubbish in his office.
Why do we need more women leaders, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?
As a youth worker, I regularly hear comments about how women can’t do certain things because they aren’t strong enough or because it’s a ‘man’s job’. It’s disheartening and it saddens me to hear this, particularly when it is being said by young women. I think it is vital for more women leaders to dispel these stereotypes and show there is no such thing as a ‘man’s job’. Rather, there are just jobs, and anyone can do them, regardless of their gender.
What book should every aspiring woman leader read?
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given.
I was fortunate enough to work with a strong woman local controller in my SES units a few years ago who was a mentor (and still is). She told me that I should always follow my instincts and be confident in my decisions. She also told me to lean on my support systems and never forget that I have people in my corner to support me and cheer me on!