In just four short years since graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Commerce/Liberal Studies (Industrial Relations and Human Resources Management and Marketing), Morgan Carroll has become a Senior Consultant within EY’s Workforce Advisory team and has founded her own business, CV Please. Today, she shares her insights on gender diversity and how people have been using their spare time to rethink their career paths and further develop their personal brand during the lockdown.
According to 2018 data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 31.8% of Managers in the management and related consulting services industry were women. Going higher up the ranks, women made up only 24.5% of key management personnel and a measly 9.4% of CEOs. What do you see as the biggest barriers to women entering the C-suite, and what would you say to women who want to be a successful businesswoman in years to come?
For years, women particularly in senior roles have been asked the same question, ‘are you a mother or are you a businesswoman?’ It’s always been an or, never an and. These childbearing years are such a short window of time but have shaped the end to end careers of so many women.
Times are shifting now with the glass ceiling slowly being cracked, and businesses are acknowledging the benefits for both staff and business results of sustaining gender equality in the workplace.
I would encourage women to gravitate to an organisation which not only supports mothers in the workplace but in fact encourages and celebrates these women. Working at EY, I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by these inspirational and powerful women who are both mothers and corporate success. An organisations flexibility, policies, and culture will play an instrumental role in
your senior career and this needs to align with your values and expectations.
Based on your journey, what is one piece of advice you would give to young females who aspire to one day be where you are today/succeed in the big 4?
Say YES to everything with a willingness to learn!
You’ve probably heard those cliché words before, but by far my biggest piece of advice to any aspiring businesswoman is to leave your ego at the door and say yes to any opportunity. If you’re reading this you are probably in your senior years of university, you’ve become accustomed to the challenges of University life. But as you enter the workforce you will be starting from a new place and will require a fresh perspective for your next chapter.
I vividly remember in my first week at EY, a colleague and good friend of mine told me to embrace any and every opportunity I was given, no matter how small or mundane the task. I am forever grateful for that advice. Remember, these colleagues have been in your shoes and have had to perform those not so glamourous roles in the past. You learn through every opportunity you are given, and you will be recognised, respected, and rewarded for this.
With your limited spare time, you founded CV Please, an online career coaching service to help young professionals kick start their careers. How do you manage your time? Did you have any reservations about founding your own start-up?
CV Please had been my secret passion project for a few years now and only in the last 6 months have we brought it to life. I was, and still am incredibly passionate about providing individuals with the best opportunities to land their dream jobs, and share a skill I have developed over time.
From a time-management perspective, I won’t lie there are weeks where juggling a full-time role at the Big 4, plus running a client-facing business is exhausting. However, I believe the challenges are worth it as CV Please is something I am truly passionate about as it rings true to my purpose of supporting the younger generation.
Some basic tips I try to use to keep myself organised are:
Use my calendar to help me organise my time: I colour coordinate my meetings and tasks, and not just work, a dinner with my girlfriends, a pilates class, or even a date night with my partner, these activities will always be included in my (3) calendars. Working backward, when I have all of these events noted down, this allows me to identify gaps in my day where I can designate time to complete other things.
Keep a daily to-do list: Contrary to the use of my digital calendars, I start and end my day with a to-do list.
A handwritten list of all the tasks I need to complete that day, broken down in the small bite-size, manageable tasks. The ability to tick-off or cross-out a task as the day goes on is incredibly satisfying and makes me feel accomplished – it’s the little things that count!
Regarding reservations about starting CV Please, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have moments of second-guessing myself. Despite having supported a lot of individuals landing their dream roles, I was internally conflicted if I was good enough to turn this into a business. Fortunately, I have an incredibly supportive network and partner, who provided me with the positive reinforcement I needed to finally launch the business. Now reflecting on it, I am incredibly proud of myself and what I have done and cannot wait to see how the business will flourish.
How would you encourage students to improve their employability in such a competitive job market, particularly given the in stage-four restrictions in Victoria?
One of the reasons we started CV Please during COVID-19 was exactly because of this. Attaining a role in the corporate market is hard enough as it is, add restrictions and business downturn and it makes it even more difficult.
I think it is important for students to look at what options are available that will make them stand out from their competitors. Too often students are solely focused on the university grades, where recruiters are looking for so much more than that.
Large corporations, in particular, have been running virtual webinar sessions and competitions for students to get involved in, from both an experience perspective but also to give them exposure to the work environment, culture, and people at the organisation. There are multiple short (some free) online and TAFE courses that have been made available within the last 6 months as a result of COVID-19. Take this time as an opportunity to upskill and certify yourself across topics not just your immediate university discipline but allow yourself to grow your unique value proposition across other capabilities as well.
What skills do you feel are the most important to have in entering the workplace, given today’s constantly evolving environment?
With the ever-evolving business environment, the one constant within that is People. Having strong ‘soft skills’ is imperative in the job market. As defined by Dr Steel from Deakin University, soft skills refer to “innate human qualities, such as communication, interaction, creativity, innovation, and developing these skills is critical to being successful in the workforce1”.
Having the emotional intelligence to be able to read a situation or possessing clear communication skills to be able to articulate a point of view, are both essential skills that will help people shine in a role. In contrast, if you do not have the ability to collaborate and work as a team, listen to others, this will hinder your ability to enter the workplace, as many organisations are moving to a collaborative and team-focused work approach.
Despite being in lockdown, there are still avenues available to build these skills. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and present on a virtual webinar for your university assignment or look into how you can actively get involved in your Societies events.
If you have any questions for Morgan Carroll, please:
1. Leave a comment under our Woman of the Week FB post, or
2. Email us at exec@WCPunimelb.com