Career Woman

Five career mantras from a top executive

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As General Manager for ActewAGL, Canberra’s leading electricity, gas and solar retailer, there is much to reflect on when looking back on my 20-year career which has seen me rise through the ranks from Energy Market Analyst to the Executive.

My most recent career highlights include receiving the 2017 Telstra ACT Corporate and Private Business Women’s Award, and graduating from an Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. I have since found myself to be steering a dynamic team through some of the most ground-breaking changes ever undertaken by energy retailers.

The industry is going through the biggest transformation on record, with solar and batteries having a huge impact on the grid, and new technologies and digital capabilities turning the customer experience upside down. We are needing to be bold and embrace disruptive technologies and business models.

To achieve this, I have surrounded myself with strong, smart people from diverse backgrounds. I believe this has not only contributed to the success of my business, but also to my personal success as a leader.

I’m a strong believer that to maintain resilience, leaders need to stay fit; emotionally, mentally and physically. To keep my head in the game, I stick to a disciplined fitness regimen, while also following a set of mantras that I developed over the years. From the age of 15 I had to support myself, and although it was a trying time, these experiences have set me up well to handle the unprecedented challenges that lie ahead as a business leader within energy industry.

Below are my five mantras, I hope they guide your growth as they have mine.

Know yourself, so you can do what you love:

Find your moral compass, know who you are, what you stand for and what you don’t. Think really hard about what your success story is going to look like, what you want to accomplish and what you care about. Align your priorities with your purpose, add a bit of passion, and magic will happen.

Lead with courage and conviction:

Regardless of industry, all organisations are navigating through complexity in an uncertain environment. Leaders who will be successful through this ambiguity are those that have sound judgement and are good at making decisions (even if it’s wrong and a plan B is needed). One of my favourite sayings is, “Mistakes can usually be corrected later; the time that is lost in not making a decision can never be retrieved”. You need to have the courage to be different, push yourself and be open to continuous learning.

Strong women: may we know them, be them and raise them:

While I’ve been fortunate to work for an employer which embraces diversity, there’s always more to be done.  I’m personally committed to ensuring our talent pipeline is balanced and that progression opportunities within the organisation are fair. As a senior female leader, it’s important for me to role model what’s possible for the next generation.

“A turtle only moves forward by sticking its neck out”:

To be the best you can, you need to be bold, take risks and do things you’ve not done before. Part of my role is to create an environment in which my team feels confident in sticking their necks out too. You need to empower your people, encourage curiosity and give them the freedom to experiment – that’s when real innovation will happen.

Be clear on purpose – not just what you do but why it matters:

People have a desire to be part of something that is bigger than they are, and to make a genuine difference. Every employee needs to know the business’s purpose and mission, why it matters and why they matter in that context. I believe that if you can unite an entire organisation behind a common sense of purpose, you can achieve just about anything.

About Ayesha Razzaq

During her 20-year service with energy supplier ActewAGL, Ayesha Razzaq has climbed the ranks to General Manager Retail. With a background in engineering, Ayesha is committed to a customer-centric focus that runs through every level of the business. This has seen her overhaul ActewAGL Retail’s operations to help customers view the company as a solutions-based energy supplier. Website: https://www.actewagl.com.au/

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