Clocking up 15 years of service is a rare milestone to be achieved in business today. For Kathryn Davies, South East Victorian Regional Agribusiness Manager at NAB, its testament to the opportunities for growth within the organisation that she believes makes it much more than a career and a paycheque.
Davies began her career at NAB as a part time teller and progressed through a variety of roles across regional Australia before finding herself in Gippsland, where she’s been based since 2008. She said those early years offered her a solid understanding of the unique needs of regional Australia, and says that getting to know the farmers and producers from these regions is the most rewarding part of her job. “To these farmers you’re an integral part of their business and they recognise you as part of their success. It’s more than just figures and interest rates, we spend time in the paddocks and see real results achieved which makes it a great job to get up to every day,” she says.
As a woman in a predominately male industry working in a predominately male area of expertise, Davies has developed a unique confidence which she feels has brought her some great opportunities. “I’m from a family of strong women who have continued to face hurdles and challenges head on. I’m also inspired by former U.S Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
She’s faced some tough traditionally male topics and has personally shown me that women are able to stand up and have a voice which can deliver in a manner that people take notice of.”
Davies called on this inspiration when she faced her biggest career challenge which came following the birth of her eight year old son. “I only took four months off after he was born, which in hindsight was silly, but at the time I thought if I took more time off it would damage my career. That couldn’t be more further from the truth, but I had that perception in my mind and threw myself in 110 per cent at work,” she says. “After some time I realised I’d lost touch with everything that was me personally and I had to reassess who I was and what I was about. It took me 18 months to find my mojo again and focus on my work life balance.”
Today Davies says organisation is the key to her juggling work and family commitments. “We have an after school Nanny for my son and have our iPhones synced into one calendar so we all know what we’re up to. I also have some home help and have learned the hard way that it’s ok to not do everything myself,” she shares.
She also achieves balance in her life by learning how to switch off at the end of the day, which for Davies typically involves tending to her large veggie patch and producing goodies for her small hobby business. “It’s important for me to take that step away and recharge by focusing on the things that are important to me,” she says.
A career in banking wasn’t where Davies originally envisaged herself, but is thankful for the opportunities that NAB have provided her. “I always knew I wanted to help people and I’ve found in banking that’s exactly what I’m able to do. To be able to advance from a part time teller to where I am today makes me thankful that NAB have supported me to develop my skills and grow as a person. I’ve been put on some amazing inspirational courses that have helped my awareness and developed my own style of leadership,” she says.
Goal setting is a big part of Davies life and something that she credits as being the secret to her success. “I think it’s all about being structured and organising your lifestyle accordingly. I had a school principal who drilled in about short and long term personal goals. Today I always have a clear focus on where I’m going, not just the end goal but the small steps I need to take to achieve it. It’s great to have these big sweeping statements but to break it down into bite-sized steps is the key to getting there in the end.”
Davies top tips for career success:
Don’t wait to be asked
“Your opinion matters and it’s ok to express your thoughts and feelings. You may not always be right, but it does matter.”
Understand your brand
“Take time out to understand yourself and your own personal brand. It’s important to be able to articulate who you are and what you believe in.”
Focus on the things you can control
“When experiencing tough times ask yourself what parts can you actually fix and put your energy behind that instead of stressing on the other stuff.”