When Tanya and her husband suffered a devastating loss, it would take time before she could rise to the surface and continue life with a new perspective. Tanya found that she was just as ambitious to be a great mother as she was to succeed as a professional. Now working three days and with her children the rest of the time, Tanya is empowered to make a real impact as both a mum and as BOQ’s Customer Advocate.
When we sit down with Tanya, we meet an open book; someone who has experienced the dizzying highs and catastrophic lows of life, and has come to value integrity above all else.
For almost twenty years, Tanya has carved a career in finance, broken up by a short stint in business development just as the global financial crisis hit. Then, she then tried her hand as a Customer Service Leader, before meandering back to the finance sector and joining BOQ in 2010. Moving on from her initial role as Commercial Collections Team Leader, Tanya has moved around BOQ and served in a number of roles within Group Risk from Operations Manager and Head of Collections, before becoming Senior Manager of Retail Operations.
Over her ten years at BOQ, Tanya has taken parental leave three times. However, while on her second parental leave course, her world shifted beneath her feet. She had lost her second child at two days old. “…I had to reevaluate what I wanted to do. My plan hadn’t gone to plan. I took eight months of parental leave to prioritise my wellbeing and care for my two-year-old, whom I had assumed would be in my care during my leave. I was very blessed that I always felt supported at BOQ. I was offered to enroll in an employee assistance program and my colleagues were provided counselling in recognition of the broad reach loss and trauma can have. I decided not to pursue the employee assistance program as I am very fortunate to have a wonderful support network in my family and friends.”
Tanya pauses for a moment. “I didn’t know when would be the right time to return to work. Yet, BOQ has always made coming back from parental leave easy. A leader reached out to inform me of a great part-time role, which presented an opportunity for professional development that would enable me to deliver as an individual contributor until I identified my next leadership opportunity. Which was absolutely true, as it led me to my current role as Customer Advocate.”
Tanya says her priorities adjusted when she returned to work. “There was a significant change in me and my perspective. My approach to work entirely shifted after my loss. I thought carefully about what was really important for me to influence and spend time on, and what to let go. I realised that by staying focused on what matters I can have a big impact in my career and in being a great mum. Working part time in a leadership position means I’m empowered to be successful at work and at home.”
Tanya says it’s not a responsibility she takes lightly.“I feel very fortunate. Whilst it is slowly becoming more common, great part-time roles for senior leaders are yet to be the norm. I feel a great responsibility to prove this arrangement can work so that others can follow this path.”
Now as BOQ’s Customer Advocate, Tanya champions the voice of the customer; to influence fair and transparent customer outcomes to meet community expectations and to make banking easier and more accessible for customers experiencing vulnerability. It’s a diverse and exciting role. “Working for a regional bank, my role is really diverse. The breadth of exposure provides meaningful and fulfilling challenges. In one day, I could be presenting to the Board, engaging with community and industry groups to help shape BOQ services. It’s incredibly purposeful and rewarding to positively impact the lives of our customers and community.”
Read on as Tanya offers her advice to parents striving to make an impact at work in a part time role, as well as at home in being the best parent they can be.
1) Embrace work-life integration
“There’s no need to place work and life in different boxes. Sometimes they overflow – and that’s fine. When I am not in the office, I might be on work call with kids in the background – and that’s okay! It’s tiring to feel guilty at work and guilty at home. It’s about accepting the cross-over, setting boundaries on the important things (like making it home for story time).”
2) Prioritise your people
“Being part-time and having less contact hours, I think it would be easy to make the mistake of prioritising the ‘To Do List’ which ultimately leaves less time to engage with your people. But I’ve found that the most important thing that has enabled me to be successful is surrounding myself with great people and then prioritising engagement with them. They keep me informed so that I can make better decisions. I wouldn’t be able to have the impact I do without my exceptional team.”
3) Be your authentic self
“People respond and connect with authenticity. For me, this means sharing as much as I can about me, hoping others will do the same, and not simply accepting people for their differences, but embracing them because of the diversity of thought they bring.
I was taught early in my career that I should have a ‘business version’ of myself at work. That’s rubbish. I’ve had far greater success as a leader and found my work more rewarding once I stopped fearing that being myself would tarnish my professional brand. BOQ is big on bringing your whole self to work and that certainly aligns with my personal values."
A decade at BOQ
When we ask Tanya why she has stayed at BOQ for almost a decade, she gets straight to the point.
“It comes down to two things. I love a challenge, and BOQ has always provided me the opportunity for challenge and continuous learning. Secondly, BOQ cares for its people, customers and community. This is what makes BOQ an exceptional place to work. This is why I keep coming back.”
Before she says goodbye, Tanya pauses before offering some parting words, “What helps me keep going when things feel overwhelming, as ultimately they do sometimes, is reminding myself why I do what I do…. I strive to be fearless in pursuit of a life lived to the fullest with passion, integrity, gratitude and humour.”
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