“Everything beautiful we create in life requires a leap of faith.” – Paul Budnitz
Have you ever considered making a change in your life or work? How can you be sure if it’s the right decision? And what could your career and life look like if you took that leap of faith?
Chances are, there have been moments in your career journey where you’ve experienced anxiety or discomfort. But making a change could be just the spark you need to jumpstart your career, or pivot.
Louise Monger, Vice President, Digital Buildings for global energy management and automation company Schneider Electric, has taken plenty of these “leaps” throughout her career.
A qualified electrician by trade, an avid netball player, single parent, and trivia enthusiast, she has also worked in a range of industries and roles – from facilities management and real estate to technology. For Louise, it’s the leap-of-faith moments that allow you to find a rewarding career pathway outside your original expectations.
“Early in my career, I felt having a trade instead of a university degree might be limiting. But it turns out, it’s had the complete opposite effect! It’s taken some time for me to really ‘own’ my unique career path. But now, I’m proud to oversee such a large business.”
Louise leads Schneider Electric’s Digital Buildings business, delivering energy management and automation solutions for the built environment. The division’s 350-strong team service customers in healthcare, real estate, transport, data centres and education, all around Australia.
After graduating from high school in a mining town, she began an electrical apprenticeship. From there, she worked as an electrician for several years before transitioning to facilities management in the real estate sector.
“When AMP Capital asked me to lead technology for real estate, I thought it would be valuable career experience and so I jumped at the challenge. I worked in senior operations roles in real estate, before being appointed Head of Property Management for AMP Capital’s office and logistics portfolio. I also oversaw the management of a $9B real estate portfolio.”
During her time in real estate, she saw the trend and investment pouring into smart building technology.
“It was my unique combination of trade background, facilities management, real estate, and technology that led to my current role with Schneider Electric.”
Finding the right professional development opportunities
Opportunities for professional development, whether through formal training programs or taking on new job responsibilities, are a powerful way to progress in your career.
Louise had the opportunity to participate in the Property Council of Australia Mentoring Program, allowing her to establish a mentor relationship, which she still maintains today.
“I also completed a Chief Executive Women Leadership Course in 2018. This was really eye-opening. Hearing about the career journeys of other CEW members gave me the confidence to step outside of my areas of expertise and try something new.”
Throughout her 12-month tenure with Schneider Electric, having already experienced professional development programs, much of Louise’s learnings have been on the job.
“We have a vast number of education programs tailored to the individual, job family, and ‘skills of the future development needs. This learning is further enhanced by the company’s investment in a world-class digital platform that utilizes machine learning to match our employees to global mentors, and to digitally search for a variety of short-term projects, that employees are empowered to undertake to increase their experience and exposure.
But what has really stood out to me as a true commitment from Schneider is the amazing programs designed to champion and accelerate the development of women. One local example is the WiSE (Women in Schneider Electric) community. WiSE is a network of over 300 women from across the Pacific Zone designed to address female-centric development challenges and opportunities and help raise the visibility of the women in our workforce across the business.”
Want to know what other inclusion and diversity initiatives Schneider Electric AU & NZ have?
Check out their benefits & policies page.
Gender pay equity
Louise says that for women, working in an underrepresented area isn’t an opportunity in itself.
“But there are many progressive organizations with high growth potential in construction, real estate and tech. They all can offer interesting work, with amazing people, and can lead to career paths like mine. By giving things a go, you don’t know where you might end up and that’s the beauty of it.”
Choosing the right roles, opportunities and companies to work with is an important choice we all must make. And moving companies and industries forward on diversity requires many actions, decisions, behaviors and policies to change. Louise sees Schneider Electric’s partnership with WORK180 as a proactive step in supporting women to make informed decisions about the companies they join.
“By giving things a go, you don’t know where you might end up and that’s the beauty of it.”
“When we did our annual pay review cycle at Schneider Electric, I learned there was a separate pool of compensation to address any gender pay equity issues. In other companies, managers can be asked to monitor and address gender pay equity issues, but the expectation is to manage it within overall remuneration budgets. Having the separated funding demonstrates to me that the company has a real commitment to addressing gender pay equity. And, as manager, this makes things easy to fix.”
A desire to change the world with her skills for seeing patterns, gathering knowledge and collaboration is a driving force for Louise – particularly having garnered a wealth of experience and being part of a business that supports change, with support and endorsement from the leadership team.
“I’ve been given many opportunities to drive change here. I executed a significant restructure of the business section I run. Being from an adjacent industry, in real estate, I’m able to bring a different perspective, which means people respect and listen to what I have to share.
“Also, I’ve realized the real estate industry is somewhat more progressive than some other sectors in Australia. I’ve been able to bring some of these best practice ideas and initiatives into Schneider Electric. The company sees these ideas as opportunities and welcomes the chance to do something different.”
It may be Louise’s self-described competitive nature that makes her driven to inspire change. She opts to use this in harmony with collaboration, as she finds helping others to be another strong motivating factor in work and life.
“You can still be competitive while being a highly collaborative and open person. It’s about striving to do your best and helping others do the same. I don’t see mentorship and competition as two things in conflict. And I don’t see myself in competition with my peers, or people at work. My competitive nature in the workplace applies to teams, instead of individuals. In helping teams with their progression and development, I see how it helps the business succeed and allows us to be the best.”
As a leader, Louise maintains a strong desire to help others realize their potential. This means being genuine, motivated by continuous improvement and having an open communication style.
“One of the biggest challenges has been getting comfortable giving constructive feedback. But even if you feel reluctant to do it, it’s a gift. Your team members and colleagues will be grateful and respect you for it. My goal is to create an environment for people to thrive and feel like they are contributing in a meaningful way towards our purpose as an organisation.”
Stepping outside your comfort zone
Overall, Louise recommends staying open-minded to new opportunities when they present themselves and focusing on what you can learn.
“In my career, I’ve felt like each step of the way didn’t necessarily make sense. But now it does, and my role connects all the dots from my experience. I’m in a job that uses everything I’ve learned. But I wouldn’t have these experiences if I hadn’t taken some leaps of faith from different opportunities. Take chances. There’s always something new to learn and people to work with to help you grow.”
Her final thoughts: “Stress less along the way. You’ll often find you can reach your full potential, regardless of the steps you take in your journey.”