International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate and acknowledge the work and successes of women around the world. There are glass ceilings being broken through every day, and those who are doing so have a great opportunity to motivate and inspire others.
Kylie Bishop, Executive General Manager of People & Culture at Medibank, knows the significance of being a female senior leader in the workplace.
Kylie began her journey studying a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Psychophysiology, before taking on a Masters in Organisational Psychology. Her first role as a graduate was a psychologist in consulting. She later found herself in a human resources consultancy and recruitment business, where she worked for eight years before having a change of heart.
“I’d lost touch with why I’d originally studied and I felt I needed more meaning in my work. I wanted to see things through end to end; to witness the impacts I was having, or not having, on employees, as well as the organisation.”
This desire saw her take on a new role at NAB, as Head of Group Talent; a role she worked in for six years, before finding her way to Medibank.
Leadership isn’t something that comes easily. Like all roles, there are learning curves and challenges that we all must face. As a leader, Kylie Bishop says that one of the hardest things she has faced is how to balance her time properly.
“I would quietly sneak out the door at 5:30pm. I didn’t tell anyone I had to leave by a certain time, to pick up my kids from school or be home to care for my kids. It took a team member telling me I was a good role model for working parents for me to realise I wasn’t being authentic to myself.”
Kylie celebrating with the team at the Australian LGBTI Awards.
This changed the way Kylie approached her leadership style. She believes that it is extremely important to be open and honest with your team, as well as yourself. When you’re in a senior role, people are watching, so use the voice you have.
With Medibank’s FlexBetter policy, leaving the office at 5:30pm doesn’t have to be a secret, as it allows employees to schedule their time in a way that works best for them. In using FlexBetter options, Kylie is able to dedicate time for the school runs, as well as be there to put the kids to bed.
Kylie enjoying family time in the sun.
“Once you find a rhythm that works for you, fiercely protect it, because if your home life is working well, your work life will be a lot easier. Be open with your team about where you’ll be, at what time and learn to say ‘I’ll get back to you later’.”
As a leader, it is important to always remember why you’re in that position – to lead a team. It is not a selfish role, but instead one that brings people together to work towards a common goal.
“Leadership is a beautiful balance of strength, empathy and vulnerability. In no way should a leadership role be seen as self-serving, but rather one which allows you to elevate and guide others.”
Kylie Bishop with Chief Customer Officer, David Koczkar and Care Navigator, Matthew Jones celebrating Mardi Gras launch at Medibank Place.
For women in the workforce, Kylie says that the best way to succeed is to simply be yourself. There’s no magic formula, there’s no shortcut, there’s just being you.
“Be clear about who you are and what your purpose is, and be confident in sharing that. Don’t try to fit the mould of what you’ve read a senior leader must be, find your own purpose and rhythm, and own it.”