2018 Honoree

Erica Mann

Independent Board Director

In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?

Given so many I think there are so many angles that one can come from. I have never written down what I think is resilant and the reason I’m saying so because if you work through a career or any choices that you have in life. You got to walk into obstacles and anything can be well in what you are doing it could be justice. But, I think the ability to bounce back and to ensure that your self say on the course it is really critical. The more I thought about it the more I think, if you demonstrate yourself if you work harder than those around you, if you maintain empathy and you have to believe in yourself then I think it’s really envivateble and therefore it takes what it takes.

With all the different issues one could focus on, how do you balance your efforts in pursuit of gender equality? Is it a global approach or a specific issue that you are passionate about?

Mine approach has been more of being an activist, I think personally what it has to do or your form of advocacy has to be authentic, people smell a mile away if your not being genuine about it and so I’ve worked very hard in companies that I’ve been assuring that work practices, culture is conducive to make it into a good place and making sure like pay equality. But, I think most of all if you’re a leader in the company people watch what you do very closely, so your actions really matter and I think that’s how you change your attitude in a work place overall and eventually sustainable, positive impact than you get cultural change it becomes institutionalized everything that dies in many years. I really think that being a role model personally is far more important

If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?

I want to be a Formula one driver the reason is I’m an absolute adrenaline junkie I guess having raised two boys you learn to grab towards things that you didn’t engage, so I’m an adrenaline junkie I love fast cars I’m a fan of really nice engine and I think besides the speed, I think you
need a hell of a lot of skills to be a really good Formula one driver, you have to be fit, you need to have a fast reaction, you have to a lot of patience, which I don’t have and discipline.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

A lot of people don’t remember that I’ve started my career in a lab so I love science and so the one person that I really admire and absolutely respect is Marie Karoue, you know she was so dedicated to science and humanity and she broke through all equality, if you think about it. She was the first woman to be awared an Nobel Prize for Physics alongside her husband one was at 1933, I think it was and then a couple of years later, she got another Nobel Prize for Chemistry and so she was not only the first woman but the first person ever to win a second Nobel Prize award in two distinctive field one in Physics and one in science. So, I think she’s a huge inspiration for me and I particular like one quote of hers One never notices what has been done, one can only see what remains to be done.

In what way do you work for women’s power and equality? What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take (e.g. affirmative action)?

I am not directly involved in politics, I’ve been steeped in my career, I guess not politics in the company I guess, right on the joking side. But, no I think there are many ways influenced I think direct political activist is an intimate challenge that has been changed but I think pervasive change will be through leadership, in such things as policy and society broadly and I think we may believe that we can demand equality it can not be directed and therefore it has to be part of the fabric of everything that we do and every institute that we operate, so if I look back at my career, I think business leadership needs the supportive ability to drive persistenat and culture over equality within my own speech, one that I was controlling and influencing by modeling behaviors, mentoring and helping thought processes. But, I think the number one action is attitude and education, the reason I say so is really need to instill in girls at a very young age, that anything is possible, that they can break down any barriers, they should not believe in cannot. For me these are like issues almost as the bowl and roll, if you look at gender inequality, it’s a structure that shouldn’t exist and the Berlin Wall should have not existed it started before as an idea, and then an idea that became a movement and not everyone contributed with a sledgehammer, so you know some stared at the wall watched and smiled and others you know helped in political activism. I think as we inhancely away this wall of gender inequality, we will make progress, but I think the most important thing is building self confidence, you know to support woman overall.

Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block in the work place and what you did about it?

Many, many years ago in Australia as a women leader who had a 60-40 men in the organization, the gender equality commission come indoors just to make sure you know in order and one year the lady said to me have you done a, I’m talking now about the early 90s have you done a Tiger Assesment and I said no Why would I do that, I treat people fairly, you know we have standard pay ranges, I assumed
the salary would be you know, done in a systematic civil and far way and you know just for your own sake just do an assessment which she did. Then, horror on horror we found woman company where I was the lead were being paid systemacially less than the men, it could have not been, immediately went back and directed everything still aware of it. Every position that I held, the first thing I do is give me the pay rate, just show me the male and female to make sure the equality is there. You know here I was as a woman aware of this, I think there is a lot more work that need s to be done around and you know just think about it and to ensure that people are aware, you know look for things and fix it. The company was Wise they have done existence longer, they have done advisior in Australia. It’s a good example because as a woman you know, you would not let that happen, I was completely freaked out when I saw the steps, you have to look for it I think.

Have you seen any changes in the political landscape for women over the past few years? If so, what are they?

I think it’s a shame, real shame and I think obviously not just in politics but in business as well, more works needs to be done and if you look across different countries as you pointed out , if you look at Great Britain or New Zealand
and Germany there not just accomplished and substantial they are masterful these woman. You know they are not being reported on what they style is or what they wish which so often happens, you know they are not just woman they are national leaders. We need more of those examples, and I still think we have a hell of a long way to go, I mean if you go back to the elections with Hillary I mean very often the reports are on what she was wearing just like it insense me and then if you look at the, there was a Prime Minister with an Austrailian name Julia Gillard she was compelled to make a formal speech in the House of Representatives highlighting the rampant misogyny and the fundaginy in the country and it’s unbelieavle that we still have to talk about this in this day an age. You still see this and the shock and horror is comes from very well advanced spiritual countries. There’s more work not just in the political but the business landscape as well.

Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?

It goes back to very early on in my career, first of all I should start with my dad, always said to me don’t make excuses, if you don’t want to do something, say you don’t want to do it don’t say you can’t do it and he use to get quite mad at me I would say I can’t do this and he would go no do you want to or don’t to and so I guess that stayed with me through life and so this attitude of can is I think something that is really important. But, I think what helped me a lot was having and I need to point this out I’ve only had men bosses throughout my career, never worked for another woman and it was those men that have helped me and one of them very early on my career said to me Erica if you ever gonna get on to international career path know that your life will be very complex, know that you can never go back to your home country and do a job there because jobs will be increasing scales and size when you move out and I suggest you think about that very closely, you do go there. You choose a country or a city or a place that you call home and so this has been some of the best advice I’d ever been given, I know realize that I am retiring and I’ve kept my home in Sydney, so I’ve kept my relationship nurtured you know friendships, family, etc. over there so that was incredibly good advice and I reflect on that now going home. I don’t think. I lived on 4 continents, you know in Africa, Australia, the U.S. and now in Europe so you almost become a road warrior in a way. It’s been incredibly fulfilling you get to learn so much about the world and you some solid judgemental years opened to experience you learn a lot of new things and you learn to appreciate and share all the goods that other countries have to offer.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I think I’ve already answered that in the previous question at the very start of the career a boss of mine said to me that you have to have a place to be called home, you’re going to be an international expert, you can’t move country to country and not belong because eventually your going to feel you don’t belong and nurturing those relationships, starting roots you know having a place you can return to that because you have a home no matter where you live whichever country but it’s not home.

Who do you most admire? Why?

I’m an absolute Nelson Mandela fan, you know I was living in South Africa doing the time of him being scarcity and I was lucky enough to meet him and to join hm on the trip to the carry on expedition, investment into South Africa and I’ll tell you what If somebody locks me away for 26 years I will not be the most pleasant person and he was the most amazing person. He had an enormous ability to give, his compassion for all people was all inspiring and then he was had this extraordinary ability which to this day brings shiver down my spine, you know society to unify and not divide people he use to start to forgive, when the sufferings has been satisfied, he used his determination now for me that’s statesmanship not leadership he’s the most amazing people.

What is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?

The Hobbit, I remember it like yesterday I read it when I was a young girl and fasaniated by youth tales of various characters and the fantasies land and the themes created. But, I think above all if you
reflect on the book the other seems about really personal growth and heroes and that’s quite inspiring so I really like that book.

What do you most value in your friends?

Kindness, if you have two friends there are not judgmental they accept you for who you are and they’re there for you 24/7 whether you, just like you and I just said, I’ve seen them yesterday or 6 months ago it makes no difference.

Which trait do you most deplore in yourself? In others?

Being judgemental, I think its such a natural reaction we look at things judging without thinking about what is that person’s experience. So I constantly remind myself you haven’t walked in anybody shoes 40 days and 40 nights its not easy

What do you consider to be the most over rated virtue?

Dignity, it may seem little weird answer because in a spirt form it’s probably a virtue. But, if I take it back into the corporate world. Dignity can be seen arrogance, egotistical and I’ve seen that and so in that context I think dignity is often the enemy of openness and apporachbility and accountability.

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