Exciting start of the year 2019 for Women in Super member Natalie Lister: the 40 year old Finance Manager and mum as well as step-mum of six children has won the first Women in Super VIC and Monash Business School "Your Leadership Voice" Scholarship worth almost $10,000.
“I was absolutely thrilled, shocked and nervous at the same time. I couldn’t wait to tell my husband, so I rang him immediately, closely followed by my parents.” Listening to Natalie Lister, Finance Manager with Industry Funds Services (IFS), even days after she received the good news from Women in Super VIC committee member and Deputy Chair Katie Frazer, that she was the recipient of a new scholarship launched by Women in Super VIC last year, you could still hear excitement in her voice
And who wouldn’t be excited about the opportunity to win a scholarship that enables you to take part in the “Your Leadership Voice: Women in Focus” program – a standout seven-day course for female leaders spread over five months – offered by Monash University’s well regarded Monash Business School?
Last year, after a highly successful and booked out WIS Melbourne event with the two main facilitators of the program, Professor Anne Lytle and Sharon Longridge, Director of Purusa Consulting, Women in Super VIC in conjunction with Monash Business School, for the first time launched the “Your Leadership Voice” scholarship. The intense program is valued at nearly $10,000 and will provide attendees with the tools, techniques, support and self-confidence to stand out and step up to a leadership level. One of the main focuses is the training to become an exceptional communicator – driving conversations with impact, and an outstanding negotiator whose voice will be heard in any situation and under any circumstance. Both skills are essential for leaders and are often skills that women in particular are unsure of and uncomfortable with utilising.
When she heard about the Women in Super and Monash Business School “Your Leadership Voice” scholarship, Natalie immediately felt it was exactly right for her at the current stage in her career, and her life in general. “I have always wanted to become a role model for women in the superannuation and finance industry,” she says and explains that she applied because she thought that the course would enable her to grow into a confident leader to do exactly that.
After working for a large accounting firm straight from university, continuously furthering her studies, and gaining diverse work experience in her roles with Industry Fund Services over the past 15 years, her dedication and commitment are sure to prepare the 40-year-old Melbournian for taking on a leadership role. However, as Natalie admits, there had always been one thing holding her back to do so in the past. Something many women can relate to: a lack of self-confidence.
Natalie: “I am generally a confident person however my internal dialogue will sometimes prevent me from, for example, contributing to discussions. I have always dreaded public speaking and want to overcome my fear of it. I often wonder how I could ever become a future CFO or CEO if I don’t have the confidence to make a killer presentation,” she adds.
Loving her job in superannuation, the work environment and in particular the passion that staff have for superannuation, Natalie also says: “Working in the finance sector and superannuation industry means working in a particularly male dominated industry. As a woman and a working mum, I feel like I have to work much harder to prove myself to male peers and gain their respect. I’m hoping that this course is going to equip me with the tools I need to increase my self-confidence and allow me to take the lead and be heard as a leader.”
While adding more value to her organisation and aspiring to become a mentor to young women in the industry were strong drivers to apply for the Women in Super scholarship, there was also an additional, very personal, motivation for Natalie: “I am doing it for my children as well as myself. It’s really important to me that my children - especially my daughters - are financially independent. After divorcing my children’s father, I realised more than ever how important it was that I had my financial independence and career. By continually trying to improve myself, I can develop, progress my career and provide the best opportunity for my family. It also shows my children how my hard work and dedication has paid off and been recognised.”
Natalie – who has recently re-married – is a busy full time working mum and step-mum to six children – four girls and two boys. “With support, I am working hard to set a great example to all my children and to provide them with the best opportunities I can. Winning the scholarship makes me so proud and proves how far I have come.”
Choosing Natalie, who is by the way, also a qualified dancing teacher and sometimes manages to attend classes at an adult ballet school when she has a spare moment, as the scholarship recipient from 20 Victorian Women in Super members, was a very hard decision for the selection committee as all applications proved to be of a high standard. However, Natalie’s was the most outstanding one. Natalie will be formally presented with the scholarship at the After Work Networking event on Tuesday 19 February.
By the way, Natalie joined Women in Super because she thought that WIS is a crucial organisation and undertakes fantastic work improving women’s retirement outcomes. “It is imperative that we have an organisation like this to lobby on behalf of women from all walks of life, as well as providing fabulous networking and training opportunities for members. The scholarships allow women who may not otherwise have the opportunity, to grow, develop and improve. I hope WIS continues to offer them in the future, as it has such a positive impact to the recipients.”