Carolyn Pedic recently joined Viva Energy as its Chief Financial Officer. It’s a complex role that involves looking after the company’s finance, treasury, tax, insurance and procurement at a leadership level.
The value of advice
Early in her career, while considering pivotal role changes in her journey, Carolyn had some hesitations about whether she was truly ready to step into those roles. Through discussions with people whose opinions she respected, she gained assurance. In one instance, a mentor told her ‘of course you can do it!’ “He helped me get my head around taking that next step and embracing the unknown,” she explains.
Carolyn highly values the mentor relationships she has developed over her career. “Having someone to talk through any questions with is important. For me, that support started at high school, when my Year 12 accounting teacher encouraged me to apply for a traineeship opportunity at one of the big accounting firms. I did, and I was successful. Ever since then, I’ve made sure to surround myself with people I can bounce ideas off and turn to for help and advice.”
Gaining experience and confidence
While many of the women in leadership positions at Viva Energy have worked in a range of different roles, being an accountant doesn’t always readily enable experiences outside traditional finance roles.
That changed for Carolyn while working in London, and she was presented with an opportunity to move into energy trading risk management, which included working for a European trading company. “The experience was very rewarding, and led to other roles when we returned to Australia.”
With each new opportunity, Carolyn has developed skills expanding her immediate skill set. With organisations like Viva Energy committed to workplace flexibility and providing mentorship, she’s hopeful that the current generation of women starting their careers will find it easier to embrace opportunities to expand their experience.
Help for families
With two daughters and having experienced the difficulties of working through those early years in particular, Carolyn appreciates the obstacles faced by working parents. “Finding accessible and affordable childcare. Finding part time work. Returning to your career after an extended absence. These are all stresses that a more flexible and equitable workplace can help relieve.
“When I started, working from home was not even a thing. Today, organisations understand they need to be flexible. There’s a lot more effort to try and help people, not just women, build their careers around the needs of their families.”
From the top
In the short time Carolyn has been at Viva Energy, she’s already noticed a passion for equity. It’s driven by the company’s leaders and all levels of the organisation.
She was recently involved in the company’s remuneration reviews and was impressed by the strong focus of the leadership team to bridge the gender pay gap. “There were some exciting suggestions, born from a commitment to try and address that problem. It’s talked about passionately and by everybody, men and women.”
The fact that Viva Energy’s leadership team is gender balanced helps to deliver equity to all areas of the business. Gender balance leads to balanced views and conversations, as Carolyn has personally experienced. “Years ago, I walked into a meeting as the only woman. There was an immediate atmosphere change, and the discussion became more focused. The same thing would happen if a man walked into a room full of women. That’s the benefit of balance.”
Work to be done
Carolyn is very positive about the future. Each generation is getting a little better. Many kids today don’t differentiate their behaviour towards other people on the basis of attributes such as gender or race, among others .. But there is no room for complacency.
“It’s easier for some industries to have a balanced workforce than others. Even within our business, traditionally male-dominated areas require more thought and effort than those that attract women naturally. Viva Energy is making that effort and we’ve come a long way, but you can never rest. There’s always work to be done.”