Dr Mollie Marti Quote | On Balance, On Target, Onwards | Professionelle

By Pamela Bell
On BalanceLike you, I am a professionally-driven woman with a few balls on the juggle – home, kids, career, carer (not a typo), community volunteer etc. – you get the picture. Invariably there is a ball or two lying on the ground waiting to be picked up again…

Like you, I look in awe at the fabulous women around me and wonder how they do it, and invariably look back towards myself for a spot of self-evaluation. It takes a good deal of introspection to measure from the inside, as well as the outside.

I’m interested in how we each track our own journeys, how we benchmark our achievements and importantly how they contribute to our own self-image that we carry around with ourselves – ultimately, our own satisfaction with our lot and our contribution to the wider good of society.

So how do you figure that out? Where do you chart your own spot on the continuum of calm versus chaos, focus versus spread, quality versus quantity, and hitting targets or falling far from the mark.

While you think about that, here are three key moments I’d like to share that look at setting targets or benchmarks to aim for.

1. A couple of years ago I heard Germaine Greer speak during Writers Week. She was asked ‘how much progress have women made in infiltrating the glass ceiling’ to which she replied that women are mistakenly focused on emulating men in the board room. She suggested the real focus should be ‘what is it that women can bring to the boardroom that is unique to being women / female / feminine’. She raises the bar to think past the accepted norm and to re-think a new future for women to aim for. Let’s redraw the image of where we are headed – what is it that you can add?

2. A colleague and I, both professionals around 40 with two young daughters, recently questioned the Institute of Director’s (IoD) new membership structure which still puts ‘Fellow’ at the top of the pyramid. To put it in context, the IoD says it is currently looking at reshaping itself for the future, and to their credit they have reduced their membership fee for under-40s, however the membership is still predominantly older white gentlemen.

Together, we proposed that the ‘Fellow’ term was outdated and would not be aspirational either for our generation or more importantly for our daughters’ generation, the future IoD members and leaders. Two interesting things happened – firstly, we received a lot of verbal support from those older men (many who likely had daughters our age) and secondly, the IoD CEO never responded to our follow-up emails after challenging us to come up with an alternative term. We came up with a list including Distinguished, Accomplished, Eminent, and Honorary. We reiterated that now is an important time to be inclusive towards women, rather than just accommodating. What would your suggested aspirational title be?

3. The last point I wanted to share was an observation on ‘quiet’ leadership. Recently I went to the Semi-Permanent event, a design conference held annually covering a wide range of creative genres. The first two speakers blew my mind and those of the audience if the Twitter responses were anything to go by. Director Niki Caro and architect Nat Cheshire both used soft gentle voices and a considered poetic delivery, yet they managed to convey a sense of urgency for the audience to be part of a greater movement for positive change.

See Nat Cheshire’s Do Not Rest presentation here and check out Niki Caro’s Whale Rider and North Country if you haven’t already. I’ve been trying to use the ‘quiet’ leadership approach with my kids, whispering instead of shouting (when I really want to shout)… I wonder what else we could achieve today by using a quiet yet insistent leadership approach.

It is hopeful, refreshing and invigorating to be actively creating new futures for ourselves and our daughters, building on the great foundation that our mothers created for us. It is both inspiring and exhausting at the same time. We are in great company.



Pamela Bell is Chief Executive of PrefabNZ – the front-door for prebuilt design and construction in New Zealand. An infatuation with goal-setting led her to several creative business start-ups and to be New Zealand’s first snowboard Olympian.

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