Occupation: Director of Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley
Ilana was a guest speaker at our recent event Women of Oakridge. As a corporate lawyer, Ilana has extensive experience in business, holding executive and non-executive positions in a selection of Australia’s most well-known companies. She currently sits on the boards of Coca-Cola Amatil, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Westfield Holdings Limited. The following is an excerpt from Ilana's inspiring talk at the event...
We all have war stories and it is fun and therapeutic to share them but what can we do. Here are a few things I have learnt along the way
1. Celebrate and learn from success. There are incredibly talented women making wine, growing grapes, running wine companies - incredibly talented women chefs, women running brilliant front of house, owning restaurants, incredible women suppliers to restaurants of magnificent produce. Ask them to tell their stories, learn how they did it, how did they manage their kids during vintage, how did they make sure they got paid the same amount as the men and got bonuses when they performed brilliantly, how did they start their restaurant. The constant theme will be bravery, taking calculated risks.
2. My second thing is to make sure we help each other. To be brave you need a support crew; people you ask and tell, who have shared experiences. The sisterhood is powerful. I have had so many wonderful women in my life, I know how important it is for me to be a wonderful women for others.
3. And to help be brave you need to be prepared. I look at the prep that our chefs do at Oakridge, or front of house before service - women in food and wine know everything about being prepared. That needs to translate to your career and place in the world. If you want a pay rise you need to put together the reasons and present them so it is obvious. If you want to work more flexibly, you need to build the case and put it so confidently, no-one in their right mind could object. It is all about preparation and planning. That helps make the risks we take more manageable and helps us be more confident.
4. Enlist the blokes. This is really important. I have spent a lot of the last 40 years talking to other women about equality and opportunity. Surprise, surprise they all agree with me. That feels good, but does not create change. Blokes are 50% of the audience - we need to enlist them to the cause and send them out to convert all the other blokes. They need to be our front line.
5. Finally and most importantly, whatever it is - enjoy it. If you are not, every minute will be like an hour, every day like a year and you will be crossing the days off your calendar. Love it whatever it is. I listen to Jo Barrett talking about creating a sustainable restaurant, milling her flour, her desert made out of waste and she is rapturous. I wish I had felt that way about the Corporations Law. Passion and joy …. That is what we are after. I thank the women at Oakridge for giving me passion and joy and hope you find a lot of it in the future.