Faye van Wyk has always had a dream to fly. Literally. When she is not working as a Senior Manager at EY, she is clocking up hours at the nearest regional flying center. Her love of planes and travelling has seen her career soar into global roles at EY — but everything took a big turn mid-last year during a fly-in-fly-out project.
“When I came back to Australia from South Africa, I was admitted to hospital and spent two weeks there. I got diagnosed with a rare autoinflammatory disease called Adult Onset Stills Disease. It can flare up anytime without warning and cause a lot of issues.”
How EY supports and cares for people
It was certainly a terrifying ordeal for Faye who was right in the middle of a global project, but she is grateful EY has taken a lot of weight off her shoulders. She says, “EY has always been very helpful and supportive from the start. My team are very understanding and allow me to work around my illness”.
Faye says even top partners are interested in her wellbeing.
“I’ve been lucky that the leadership here is open and approachable. It feels very comfortable to tell them things. With the international project I was on when I was admitted to hospital, I was working with one of the executive partners across the globe, and she regularly checked in on me (even across time zones) to see how I was doing.”
Faye’s clients are also very supportive, “If I’ve been experiencing a flare up, I’m quite open with clients, especially on when I’m available and not available. Everyone is very understanding”.
Walking the talk
There is a lot of focus on mental health and wellbeing at EY. Faye lives in Melbourne, and the lockdown has been challenging. She takes some comfort in knowing she isn’t the only one.
“This lockdown is really getting to me. If you need a mental health day, it’s encouraged. Even the leadership team have been transparent if they are struggling. It makes people more comfortable to share how they are going during this time and to take time off when needed.”
EY sent special health care packs to everyone based in Melbourne. Faye says, “The thought behind the packs was great. It was a nice touch”.
EY has also just created a new portal on health and wellbeing to help us navigate through the pandemic. “You can opt into what you feel comfortable with. For example, accessing exercise sessions via Zoom or mentoring sessions”.
Flexibility is key to a thriving career
Faye had a non-traditional start in consulting and technology. She started out studying electrical engineering and maths but secured a role on a SAP project 10 years ago and has been working in tech ever since.
Faye has been with EY for almost seven years, starting as a Consultant and working her way up. She now leads the EY Global SAP Centre of Excellence which provides the method, tooling and support for SAP transformation programs.
She enjoys the collaborative nature, where everyone is grounded and down to earth — no matter what title you have. She says, “It’s flat in how we operate. We have quite junior and senior people all working well together. You can learn a lot more this way and be comfortable making suggestions”.
“No matter where you go, EY is consistent and has the same vibe. I’ve been lucky to work with very senior leaders who are high performers and they are all very open and collaborative. During COVID-19 we have moved to virtual meetings, but everyone has been really personable, which is nice to see.”
Faye believes, “Being flexible and understanding with people’s health and personal commitments is important and key to a successful and thriving career. EY has a focus on getting the job done rather than being rigid around set working hours etc”.
The flexibility she has also allows her to pursue her passion for flying. “Before COVID, I was learning to fly to get a pilot licence. I love planes. Flying is always something I’ve wanted to do and I’ve been learning to fly on and off for the past couple of years.”
Not all women are the same
Faye feels EY has a lot of initiatives around diversity and inclusion.
“In technology, there’s a lot of focus on gender equality through STEM programs. EY makes it a priority to achieve gender balance at the different ranks across the organization.”
She is also loving the increased spotlight on neurodiversity at EY. She says, “Sometimes it’s left out in D&I conversations. The EY approach is that it is something to be proud of and celebrated. You have a special skill set because you can see things differently”.
Faye’s reflection on gender diversity is to be careful of making assumptions on women’s careers. She says, in society “Some people assume that all women want to get married and have kids. Whereas the focus for me has been more on my career and I haven’t had the same burning desire to settle down. Not all women are the same”.
“I’ve always wanted to travel more and work overseas, so EY has been very supportive in making that happen.”
When we asked Faye what her top career tips were, she said, “Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help when you need it. Sometimes people don’t realize you need that support. Also, be open to what comes your way because opportunities can present in unexpected ways. You never know where it could take you”.
The sky is truly the limit for Faye.
The views reflected in this article are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organization or its member firms.