2017 Hunter Women in Business
Jackie is the founder and director of Hover UAV a company who uses drones, to deliver high quality aerial imagery, research, video and data. She also utilises her experience and acts as an instructor for “She Flies”. This program teaches young woman how to code and fly drones. Its aim is to excite and inspire young woman to become more involved in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) based subjects and careers.
Hover UAV started out of a nee ded career change from almost 12 years working at sea within the global marine industry. With a keen interest in technology and seeing firsthand the applications drones could be used for the desire to start her own business in this emerging industry was nurtured.
The thing Jackie loves most about running a small business is the diversity it provides. Not one project undertaken is ever the same leading to many challenging and exciting opportunities. It constantly requires thinking outside the box and provides a profound sense of achievement when new applications and methods of using drones produce amazing results.
Jackie and her team have been involved in using drone technology to conduct state wide shark surveillance, whale research, construction progress monitoring and environmental mapping and monitoring. Jackie felt when she first started out with Hover UAV there was a drive to do everything. She soon realized that she needed a focus to become more productive.
Once this change was made things really went from strength to strength for her.
She believes one crucial aspect of a small business that was over looked when she first start out was the importance of networking. Jackie’s emphasis was to do everything herself but quickly realized nobody is an expert at everything. It became imperative to find a trustworthy network of individuals to help with guidance as she moved forward. Collaboration and openness is now a massive part of Hover UAV’s development and growth.
The one piece of advice Jackie would give to women starting their own business or considering a career change would be to just go for it. If you are interested in it, you are going to be good at it.
Rachel is Business Banking Executive for Newcastle nab Business.
No two days are the same for Rachel. Her day normally starts at 5.30 am when her husband leaves for work. This is “me time” for Rachel – the calm before the chaos begins.
This typically includes a walk around Sanctuary (the estate she calls home), some tunes (normally alternative in genre), catching up on the morning news and the first caffeine hit of the day. Then it’s the 8 am school drop off and into the office.
Rachel’s primary focus is coaching and guiding her team in obtaining positive outcomes to assist business customers to continue to grow and create wealth for themselves. She does this with a lot of one on one coaching, credit rounds, facilitating capability sessions and liaising with many internal specialists and stakeholders. It also involves internal meetings to drive ongoing process/policy change, business development activities, embedding change, building relationships with customers and coordinating the local volunteering partnership with Oz Harvest.
Rachel started with nab 22 years ago as a trainee in Forbes NSW, with the first 10 years within the Retail segment throughout Central NSW. During this time Rachel moved five times availing of opportunities to progress her career as they arose. Her first leadership role was as Branch Manager Condobolin at the age of 23.
In 2005 Rachel made the change to nab Business working her way from Business Banker through to her first executive role in 2013. These changes included a further three moves for the family.
Whilst she remains passionate about customers and community, it became quite evident early in Rachel’s career that she was really motivated by developing others to be successful and confident.
She says that life experience and applying her core values of doing the right thing, being respectful and fair, have all contributed to make her the leader she is today. Her mother has been an inspiration – she taught Rachel that no matter what you choose to do you can be great at it - back yourself, work hard and never lose the passion.
Rachel says two mentors, Jon Meys and Steven Good, have had profound impacts on her leadership journey – at times believing in her when she didn’t, pushing her to do things she never thought were achievable and supporting her all the way. Her husband Wayne has also been a massive support.
Rachel says she has been fortunate to work in an organisation that supports women in business.
Her first important lesson was that respect needs to be earned - it doesn’t come with a title. She found if you can deliver on your commitments it doesn’t matter what gender you are. Rachel’s biggest challenge has been herself. – learning to back herself even though she may not tick all the boxes for a role.
Rachel believes the banking industry needs to become more agile to deal with the changing needs of customers, whilst balancing a highly regulatory and competitive environment. Expanding the digital platform and capability is key. Customers will always want to speak to people. The customer value proposition must not lose sight of the people component in building relationships and trust.
Rachel advises other women commencing a similar career path to surround yourself with positive people that are not going to just tell you what you want to hear but rather what you need to hear. Never not avail of an opportunity just because you are afraid – back yourself. Be passionate about what you do and never give up.
Nikki Abercrombie is the Managing Director of a Newcastle-based event management company, Abercrombie Management, which specialises in running business events across Australia and New Zealand. Established in 2014, their business philosophy is to create memorable events that connect people, inspire ideas and improve lives.
Initially, Nikki ran the business as a soloist, alongside her part-time work, before taking the leap to full-time business owner. She now has a pool of contracted talent working across Australia on events. Nikki particularly enjoys the business development side of being a business owner, so was excited to see Abercrombie Management enter a growth stage this year. She can now delegate tasks to her team and focus on building the business even further.
No two days are the same in Nikki’s virtual office. As a consultancy service, the business operates as an extension of clients’ workforces.
Nikki says her best days are when she doesn’t start work until after her son goes to school—this took her a few years to work out! Nikki starts her work day by going over her plan for the day and week; managing time and energy is the key to working on multiple projects across multiple time zones.
As the business works on events across Australia and New Zealand, and have internationally based clients, Nikki usually spends about a third of the year travelling –something she loves as it lets her get out there and experience different places, and have conversations with a variety of people.
Nikki has been inspired throughout her career: business owners from a variety of industries, motivational speakers and clients who, in their day-to-day lives, are making an impact on the community in sectors like health, education and human services.
This year, Nikki participated in The Business Centre’s Women in Business Mentoring Program which she says accelerated her through the early stages of the growth phase of her business and connected her with like-minded business owners who were both mentees and mentors.
One of Nikki’s biggest challenges starting out in business was making sure she stayed on the path she wanted to be on, and understanding that it’s a long-term, not short-term, plan. Lots of well-wishers had big ideas for her business and Nikki enthusiastically embraced every one of those ideas. But she had to work out quickly why she went into business and not be fearful about being on her own path and not be tempted to follow too closely in other people’s footsteps.
When Nikki started her business, and especially in the first few start-up years, she was desperate to keep her business life and personal life separate. Then she realised that she is one person wearing multiple hats all at once, day-in, day-out. Nikki says that’s when her mindset of being a business owner truly kicked in.
Say private investigator and most people immediately think of a burly bloke, who is a former police or security officer that does surveillance work. One Hunter woman is turning this stereotyping on its head.
Through her career path of investigations and intelligence work with the police, government regulators, churches, schools and social services, Emma Hale saw the need for a local service beyond surveillance.
In April this year, she started Fair Square Investigations, a mobile workplace investigations company. As an external service, it offers impartial, independent and non-judgmental investigations and intelligence as well as postinvestigation advice to organisations facing allegations, in particular abuse incidents relating to a child or a person with a disability.
As a female investigator, Emma believes she is perceived as being soft, gentle and caring with her approach, which provides benefits and challenges in the way others treat her. With most of her work being conversations, information gathering and rapport building about sensitive issues, she is aware being a woman has its distinct advantages in this male-dominated industry.
Most days are bookended with an interview, which can take place anywhere – the workplace, home, café, pub or any public venue – wherever the person is comfortable. Before and after each one, she works on that case with desk-based work research via the phone, databases and internet as well as report writing.
Compartmentalising her time was a skill developed during her career, especially working on major strike forces relating to child sexual abuse, the Catholic Church Professional Standards Investigation area, mental health and drug education school programs and studying criminology. From different workplaces and mentors, Emma has crafted a process and best practice for balance and fairness.
The biggest influence came from the former CEO of NSW Council for Intellectual Disability, Aine Healy, who challenged Emma to look at people and situations differently – to walk in their shoes then to reflect on the solution. It eventually led to her being a volunteer with the Intellectual Disability Rights Service to help clients through police interaction and court process.
Through this role and her business, Emma finds fascinating the diversity of her work, especially the range of people’s “normal” when it comes to dealing with human behaviour.
In the future, she would like to see her industry adopt a continuing professional development program and accreditation for additional skills and expertise. This would help the industry evolve from the domination of individual surveillance work regarding insurance industry claims and spouse infidelities to companies doing quality legal and administrative investigations in relation to workplaces, child protection, disability matters as well as assisting law firms, their plaintives and clients.
As for females stepping into the space, Emma believes there are definitely opportunities across the industry. When researching to set up her business, she found there were about 55 locally listed private investigators and they were all men.