16/09/2010 - 00:00

Pickard leads power push

16/09/2010 - 00:00

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Women need to recognise their own source of power in order to influence organisations in the male-dominated world of resources.

Women need to recognise their own source of power in order to influence organisations in the male-dominated world of resources.

This was a key message delivered by Ann Pickard, speaking at the Women in Mining and Resources WA’s second annual conference last week.

Ms Pickard has been Royal Dutch Shell’s executive vice president upstream Australia and Australian chairperson since March this year.

“Most of my professional life has been spent in the oil and gas sector, it is not necessarily the industry with the best public image and it is not necessarily female friendly,” she said.

In her address to the conference last week, Ms Pickard spoke of the approach she took in her rise and rise in the oil and gas world.

Early in her career, Ms Pickard went about attaining power in her positions through developing expertise and gaining respect from her co-workers.

“To influence in an organisation, you need to exert some kind of power. It is not only the leaders that have power, but people at any level can lead and have influence,” she said.

“You need to recognise your own sources of influence or power and how they contribute to business performance.”

“The oil and gas sector is very much a man’s world. I think my experience shows the women in this world can succeed and [have] influence.”

Ms Pickard said by identifying her priorities early in her career she was able to make choices without regret.

“We, particularly women, all have multiple calls on our attention. I always tell women to think about location, family and career. In each of these, you would have preferred outcomes and options,” she said.

“I tell people to make sure you know what is important to you and then have no regrets about the choices made to support that priority.”

Ms Pickard’s priority for the first 20 years of her career was her work, which led her to heading up business development for Mobil in the former Soviet Union and later to a role as Shell’s regional executive vice president Sub-Sahara Africa: a job that had never been done before by a woman.

Ms Pickard went on to influence gender equality in Shell’s African operations, handpicking a female member of Shell’s staff for an appointment to the leadership team.

Ms Pickard is not shying away from creating the same change in her new role and will shortly appoint a woman to Shell Australia’s leadership team.

Speaking of the recent corporate tilt toward appointing women to Australian boards, Ms Pickard acknowledged gender representation as one of the factors in her appointment, but said there were more important factors in the decision.

“I may have got this job because I am female – Shell is pushing females through the organisation – but I’ll tell you what, I am damn well qualified to do this job too,” she said.

 

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