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Story / Corporate 08 Mar 2017

Meet the women of Sydney Water

Meet Sally Armstrong
Head of Customer, Direction and Experience

When Sally started with Sydney Water in 2006 as the Every Drop Counts Program Manager, she knew this was a role where she could make a difference.

“If I look back at my career, the years I spent leading the Every Drop Counts business program were absolutely fulfilling. We were a team of 24 people, all with a personal and intrinsic connection to our roles. We knew the value we were giving back to the community, so we were motivated to push the boundaries and see what we could achieve next.”

In Sally’s ten years at Sydney Water, what’s kept her going was the opportunity to learn and grow in diverse, varied and challenging roles. From drought to flood, business customer services to liveable cities solutions, one thing remained constant - she was motivated by the value created for customers, the community and the business.

“In Liveable City Solutions, I was able to explore and grow our contribution to the liveability of Sydney. In my role now as the Head of Customer Direction and Experience (CDE), I feel like all my experience is coming together in a way that will help us learn more and more about what our customers need, value and expect from us.”

“I’m loving the work I do in CDE and I can’t wait to use the insights we learn from customers to transform the way we work. I believe this will deliver great outcomes for both our customers and staff.”

This year Sally is taking on a new challenge – starting an MBA through Sydney Water’s Women in MBA program.

“I’ve taken on this challenge because I want to push myself to be the best leader I can be, inspire and enable others to be their best every day, and prove that diversity and equality are fundamental to the success of every business.

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Meet Jo-Ann Pass
Head of Digital Operations

Before Jo-Ann Pass joined Sydney Water in 2013, she had been around the blocks in the IT sector, from oil and gas, finance, police and government both here and internationally. 

"I started out as an IT trainer because I enjoyed helping people and to making things more efficient for them. Looking back these roles gave me the skills for life and now I have a choice in where I want to be and what I want to do.”

When asked why she chose Sydney Water, her answer was simple and echoed that of many others within the organisation.

"I wanted to work for organisation that made a difference to people’s lives, that wasn’t just about the commercial outcomes. Sydney Water has a great balance of both.”

"Out of all the companies I've worked for, Sydney Water is the first that's enabled me to put all the skills I’ve developed throughout my career into practice. I’m able to be a leader who inspires change for my people. I’m able to offer my team development opportunities and enable them to acquire capabilities for success."

There’s another side to Jo-Ann you’d be surprised by – Jo-Ann as an actor. For Jo-Ann, acting is not only a stress relief and a total change from her day job, but also enables her as a leader who empowers others.

“I’ve been doing acting for about five years and the techniques I’ve learnt, such as storytelling and communications, translate to great leadership skills.”

"I'm big on using storytelling as a tool in my team meetings to encourage people to focus on the 'how' in a situation. I want people to feel safe to make mistakes and as one of Sydney Water’s signature behaviour says - ‘own the outcome’."

As to what gender diversity means to Jo-Ann, she had a lot to say on this topic. Last year at the City Disrupt Conference, Jo-Ann was part of a panel discussion about gender and diversity in the digital sector.

“Diversity means much more than just gender. In our team we’ve got diversity of age, cultural backgrounds and religions and different levels of education. We all have a part to play to build a more inclusive workforce, and for me it’s about leading by example - encouraging diversity of thought and reflecting on what society expects from world class organisations.”

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Meet Alison Stanley
Culturand Insights Manager 

Alison started at Sydney Water 13 years ago as an environmental scientist. Since then, she’s taken on a number of varied, unique and challenging roles, from working at a treatment plant to program managing Sydney Water's culture program.

After having two children, Alison decided to take her career to a different direction – project management. She worked on projects improving culture and developing a balanced scorecard. During that time, Alison realised her passion in culture change.

‘Not many organisations offer flexibility to the level we have at Sydney Water. As a first time mum, I was able to work part-time and job-share with another colleague. When I changed careers, I was given the opportunity to learn and grow in those new roles. Looking back, I never I thought I would go from being an environmental scientist to a HR professional.’

When asked what the best thing about working at Sydney Water was, Alison was clear that it was all about the people.

‘I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with so many different people and am constantly in awe of the unique skills and experience that people bring. Throughout my time here I have also had managers that saw my potential and encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone.’

Alison has some advice for women pursuing leadership roles.

“Don’t let your inner critic talk you out of taking on new challenges. The times when I have learnt the most in my career have been when I’ve felt out of my depth. I don’t think I ever got to the point when I felt ‘ready’ to be a leader--I just had to jump in. Leadership is a journey rather than a destination, and each day I learn more about how to be a better leader.”

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Meet Carolyn Haupt
Treatment Manager West

When Carolyn finished school, she wanted a job which allowed her to apply her skills and interest in maths, science and engineering.

17 years on, Carolyn has immersed herself in the Treatment area at Sydney Water, from operating water filtration plants, chemical dosing units, managing quality systems to managing wastewater plants and now wastewater for western Sydney.

“I like knowing how things work, which led me to study maths, science and engineering. It’s also a reason why I applied to the Sydney Water Graduate Program. Since then, I’ve been offered a lot of opportunities in many areas for me to explore and determine the path I wanted to pursue in my career.

When asked why Carolyn chose to work in Treatment, Carolyn said, “there is a good balance of work inside and outside. I particularly like being able to make a change and see improvement, it is a great source of job satisfaction seeing the results of your efforts.”

As the Treatment Manager, Carolyn’s focus has moved from doing to being more strategic and forward thinking. Her biggest goal now is to build out the vision for Treatment for the next 20 years and start working toward it.

Carolyn offers some advice for people wanting to step up to be leaders, especially for women working in predominantly male areas.

“First, be a leader if you value people and their contribution. Some of my best moments have come by investing a little time and effort in someone and seeing them grow and develop. For women in particular, it is important you believe in yourself and that you can do anything that you put your mind to. Often the only thing holding you back is yourself.”

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