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Count Her In: reflecting on #IWD2024

REMONDIS Australia // 8 March 2024


8 March is International Women’s Day, a global day of focus on gender equity, sponsored by the United Nations


We gathered colleagues from REMONDIS branches across the country for a live – and lively – panel discussion


A common theme was the challenge of balancing caring responsibilities with professional life – work/life balance is still a daily negotiation


8 March is International Women’s Day, a global day of focus on gender equity, sponsored by the United Nations.

Here at REMONDIS Australia, we marked #IWD2024 by hosting a live panel discussion, and inviting the panellists to reflect on their career journeys, stories of success and failure, and to share what they’ve learned along the way.  

Our panellists were:

  • Indrani Mitra Lodh, National Infrastructure & Communications Manager. Mother of three adult children, Indrani started out as an accountant and moved into IT to better balance work and life.
  • Snezana Herve, HR Specialist, and mother of two school-aged kids. Snez trained in hospitality, then pivoted to HR in search of a family-friendly career.
  • Conor Flynn, Executive General Manager Technical, father of two little pre-schoolers.
  • Moderating the conversation was Olga Fadeeva, GM People & Safety and mother of a teenager.

Here follows an edited transcript of a lively, authentic and inspiring conversation.

Olga: Today is 8 March, International Women’s Day. I'm very happy today that we've got an incredible panel of people who will be telling us about their career journeys and the tension between their personal commitments and their professional aspirations. The theme of IWD this year is ‘Count Her In’. But it’s also very important that women don't count themselves out, so that that that's really what we would like to talk about today.

On the pressure to balance professional aspirations and personal commitments

Snezana: I think the balance and the struggles are really weekly, if not daily – just going from dropping off in the morning to getting to work on time and then the pick up after and having dinner on the table!

But when I think about one particular moment, it was having a pre-schooler go into kindy and thinking – oh my God, school is going to finish at 3 o'clock, what happens then? So in 2020 my daughter Maria started kindy and I just can still remember having that gut wrenching feeling of guilt when I knew that every day after school she had to go to after school care… For most of Term One, every evening ended up in in episodes of tears and screams and anger, both her and her brother. And so, I mean, I really thought – is it worth me actually being at work? Am I the reason they’re like this? Eventually they settled… Being a working parent is having an effect on them, but I know it's just part of part of any challenging journey.

Indrani: My younger ones, a pair of twins, went to two different high schools and the transition was harder for me than for them – I was feeling guilty not helping them, you know, feel at home. But, you know, time passes. My kids are independent. They make their own minds up. They look at me as someone who is, I would say, a bit of a role model… and nothing will ever, ever stop them from working towards a career. So I think it hasn't come up too bad. Looking back, I'm quite proud actually.

Conor: My wife and I were fortunate to have Sophie in September 2018… and Sebastian came along 15 months later. Julia decided to take an extended career break. That was in the middle of COVID, and we're in a very fortunate position that she took four years off and she was loving being a mum, but we always knew that the point would come that when she wanted to go back to work. And that moment came. And that's certainly the moment when I failed and failed miserably.

Because I made the blind assumption that, you know, getting a job today is easier than it has ever been. You log on to LinkedIn or you go on to Seek. You look up whatever job you want. You apply for it. You go for a couple of interviews and you get it. In my mind it was just so simple.  

There were numerous evenings when I got home and she’s working on her resume, and eventually the moment came. She was like – I can't do this. My resume is not up to date. Why would anyone employ me? I've been off for four years.

I'm foolishly answering – but you haven't been off for four years. You've worked harder than ever. You've done more than ever. I just couldn't comprehend it. I couldn’t understand how she could so easily exclude herself. It really was a moment when I had to realise that I had to adjust because I've been very fortunate in my career. But I've been fortunate because of her patience and support. So I had to change and make sure that I could support her.

On the price of balance

Snezana: Well, the most tangible price that I paid was another HECS debt in my 30s! And accepting the fact that by pivoting my career, I had to accept going from a supervisor or managerial role to an Admin Assistant in HR… I had to start all over again.

On a personal note, I think the price we pay is sometimes missing out on things at school or not being heavily involved with the children as I'd like to be. But you know, that's for them to understand that Mummy can't always be there, but there are other people in the family that can be there. I try to be as present as possible, so I don't feel as guilty as I used to, but it's a constant juggle, right?

Indrani: When we talk about the price, we shouldn’t talk about ‘sacrifice’. I think the mindset is changing… why should I feel guilt if I want to work, if I want to have a career and if I want to progress that career?

Olga: And it's that notion that just because it's difficult or it's unconventional, it doesn't mean that it can't be done. Just because you haven't seen it done… doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

On role models

Snezana: Growing up in the 90s I didn't really have a role model to look up and think – Oh, I want to be that type of woman. My inspiration or desire to want to have a career and be a mother has actually come from my father. My father never really had an opportunity or support to commence his life with formal education. And so through his own struggles, he always encouraged me to become an independent, educated woman that doesn't have to rely on a male figure to support her family or herself.

Now, doing the juggle, I show my kids that you can balance work and family. I’m happy when Maria says when people ask her – what do you want to be? She's like – I wanna be a teacher, I wanna be a mum, I wanna be a soccer player – she says all of these great, great things.

Conor: Sophie’s only five, but I certainly want her to be afforded the exact same opportunities that my son and that I have been afforded. I think we'll definitely tell her that it will be difficult. It will be challenging, but it is possible and you will succeed. She just has to look at her mum.

Indrani: My mother was very strong-headed woman. She never worked professionally, but she was a very strong woman and that led to me feeling like I have to be independent, I have to be a professional. I wanted to show my own children that I could be a role model to them… and now they talk about their mum so proudly. I've never heard them say something nice to me [laughing], but I know that behind me they do!

On inspiring others

Olga: As a society we must work towards doing better at ‘counting her in’ and that's the theme of International Women's Day today. But how can we inspire others to count themselves in, and not count themselves out?

Indrani: Show them that it is possible. I did my MBA with three kids, right? And yes, it was a sacrifice. But I think we need to show people – men and women – that as a generational change, this needs to happen. We have to support one another and recognise that we are not alone in this journey – and some of us are on the other side of it. Just keep that conviction, that resolution, that yes, this can happen.

Snezana: I listen to a lot of podcasts, and there's one life coach in particular who says – success is easy, change is the hard part. Which is true, right? It’s about feeling comfortable about the idea of feeling uncomfortable, you know? So don't be afraid to apply for a role or change your career... Even if you're at 30 or 40 and you’re thinking of pivoting your career, I would say do it. It’s through discomfort of the unknown that we learn and grow, that we become a different version of ourselves.

Conor: I, for one, probably wasn't that open to talking about these things previously. One of my insecurities is just talking about it today. But the more we talk about this openly… and say no, that’s the day I have to go earlier, I’m on pick-up today – the struggles will become easier for everybody.


That’s a great place to end.

But before we sign off, here’s the edited transcript of a video we played to kick off the conversation.

“I'm Jenny George, and I'm the Dean of the Melbourne Business School here to talk about International Women's Day.

When I was first at the Melbourne Business School, one of the things I did was to talk with potential MBA students. Many of them, of course, realised that this was a big commitment, a commitment of time and effort and a commitment of money.

But I noticed something odd when I was talking to candidates. Men would talk about this as an investment that their family was making, for a family pay off. And of course that's right. But when I talk to women, they would tend to talk about it as a sacrifice. And they would be quite reluctant to make their family pay that sacrifice for them.

Now, that's such a shame, because as this year's theme of ‘Count her in’ tells us, investing in women pays off for everyone. But women have somehow internalised a narrative that possibly they're not worth it. So can I ask something of you?

This International Women's Day find a woman you admire, a talented woman, someone with real potential, and tell her she's worth it. Tell her she deserves to be invested in and that investment is not just for herself. It's for her family and more than that, for all of us, because we will have a better world if we have women who've been invested in, if we have women who are capable of stepping up, of taking roles and responsibilities, of being the people we need them to be in our society. This International Women's Day, count her in. Tell someone she's worth it.”

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