I was born in Sydney, Australia. My father is British, and my mother is Australian. When I was around 18 months old, my parents decided to move to Manchester, England, my dad’s home town. Unfortunately, my parents’ marriage broke down after a few years, and my dad moved back to Australia.  

My mum and I stayed in the UK for another couple of years as she had recently qualified as an architect, and she was determined to follow her. She made the bold decision to move us to London so she could start her career.  

London in the 1980s was filled with opportunities but also presented challenges, especially as a single mother. My mum is utterly determined and resilient, but without any family around us, we didn’t have a support network, and there was too much for her to juggle on her own, so we moved back to Sydney. 

Back to Oz  

I went through primary and secondary school in Australia and fondly look back on those years.

If I liked the subject or the teacher, I did well. I had to work hard to achieve positive results if I didn’t. One of my teachers once said I was one of those kids with all the ability, but they just wished I would apply it.  

For me, school was more than just learning from textbooks; it was about everything else that went with it. I guess you could say I learned as much from the ‘social’ side of school as I did from the academic. 

In Australia, schools have Out of Bounds. I guess it’s a bit like the Duke of Edinburgh awards but in the Australian Bush. Whatever you could carry on your back was what you were allowed to take – clothes, shelter, and food. You were entirely alone for three days, well apart from the snakes, spiders, and critters. It was gruesome at times, but I loved it. All my school reports said I was “in my element”, pushing myself, excelling in a team, and immersing myself in new experiences. 

The world of work 

After completing my exams, I was encouraged to go to university. However, in Australia, you can start working when you’re 14 years and 9 months old.  

At about 14 years, 9 months and 2 days, my mum marched me up the high street to find a job. I wasn’t impressed because none of my friends had jobs. But I learned all the valuable skills that come with getting a job, which gave me independence and choices. 

So, I wanted to do something else rather than continue with my education. I’d moved out of home and suddenly had freedom. I was working and earning money. 

Jet setter  

Aussies love to explore and travel. So, with my freedom and regular income, I decided to embrace the spirit of adventure, grab my backpack, and try it too. 

I headed to Italy and set up a base there, allowing me to visit other countries. After a few weeks, I enrolled on a language course at Perugia University to study Italian. I’d never spoken Italian before but wanted to immerse myself in the culture.  

As the funds began to dwindle, I found myself in England, where my grandparents lived. Like many Australians before me, I worked in various pubs to keep some money coming in. 

Around the 10-month mark, my mum reminded me of the importance of having options and encouraged me to go home and study for a degree. Taking a detour through Thailand, I spent a month exploring Bangkok and its surrounding islands and then volunteered at a Homestead village. Building fences and engaging in community service certainly helped me look at life differently. 

Building for the future  

Once I returned to Australia, I began searching for a degree – but I wanted a course that would deliver fulfilment. Influenced by my mother, I chose a degree in architecture – but with the condition that I wouldn’t end up working for the family business.  

As it turned out, architecture is all about problem-solving, something I’m passionate about. It taught me that I didn’t need to be an expert in every aspect of construction, but as long as I knew who the experts were and could bring them together, we’d have a successful project.  

Back on Greenwich Mean Time 

I’ve always been drawn to the UK, so after my degree, I hopped back on a plane to stay for six months and see what opportunities were out there. Within four days, I was offered an admin role in an HR department for an electrical company. After two months, I was given an opportunity to move up the ladder. The company also offered to put me through college to gain the relevant qualifications. 

As someone who always embraces opportunities, I said, “Why not?” and before I knew it, I was working during the day and going to Salford University at night to get the qualifications. 

A few months passed, and then a larger company acquired the company and relocated its UK head office to Stafford. That’s when I made my move into procurement. I didn’t really have experience in procurement, but again, I thought, why not? 

The new parent company strongly emphasised people, training, and development, much like Chubb. At the company’s global HQ in Paris, the company basically had its own university campus. Every month, I had the opportunity to go to France and join some brilliant training courses.  

The aim was to prepare me to travel around France to find and buy the transformer parts for the Eurostar. Getting my bearings in France and driving the wrong way around the Champs Elysees with locals shouting at me were very memorable moments in my working life.  

Starting a family  

A short while after that, I got married and became pregnant. My husband and I relocated to Warrington to start our family. The only downside was that work was an extra 20 miles away. On a good day, it was 40 minutes; on a bad day, it was two hours plus. It was a struggle. 

I then got a call from a former colleague now working at Chubb. They said there could be an opportunity and asked what I thought. But I wasn’t really interested. I enjoyed work, loved the people I worked with, and had been through some significant life milestones while there. 

But Chubb was five miles down the road, which meant no motorway traffic. Working at Chubb would give me more time to spend with my children. So, I went for it. 

A new chapter 

One of the biggest challenges when I joined was merging all the different teams. I was a project manager, and it was my job to ensure everyone was on the same page and working towards the same goals.  

After successfully navigating that challenge, I expanded my role and helped the Chubb Systems team merge with the Chubb Fire and Security team. This was the first time I had line management responsibilities. I was required to merge two businesses with two different mindsets and two very different ways of working into one cohesive unit. This is where the valuable lessons I’d learnt during my school years and travelling really came to the fore. Spotting and embracing opportunities when they come along is really important. Everyone soon realised that this was a great opportunity. Now, the team is really successful, and the business has flourished. 

One of the key things I remind myself about when faced with change is not being scared of it. Organisations shouldn’t change for the sake of changing, but making sure people are on board with what you want to do, why you’re doing it, and where you’re heading as a result of that change certainly helps people to see the bigger picture.  

I’m a massive believer in embracing the unknown because, sometimes, the best lessons come from stepping off the beaten path. 

Always learning 

For example, at the moment, my team and I have 185 years of experience between us. We’ve got a mix of apprentices and experienced colleagues with over 30 years of Chubb knowledge. The great thing is that they’re all keen to step out of their comfort zone and learn more. Whether it’s LinkedIn learning or face-to-face learning, the team are developing their skills and improving all the time.  

In procurement, our customers are other Chubb employees. So, learning about our colleagues and how they work, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and understanding the things that frustrate them helps us to build stronger relationships and do a better job.  

Interacting with people allows you to learn something new daily, which is incredibly motivating.  

I know I can always learn more. Within my role, there are still areas of the process that I’m unsure about. Typically, in procurement, we’re in the middle of the process, so understanding what comes before and after should give us a better appreciation of how we fit into the process, ensuring we can play our part in improving it. Over the next few years, I will practise what I preach and push myself more out of my comfort zone. 

Who has been your biggest influence? 

I’d have to say my mum. She’s continually championed being a woman and a leader and constantly wanted to improve. She has several qualifications and degrees. She was so driven and hardworking. She’s the one who instilled many of the values that have shaped my career. She was right when she said that hard work, good discipline, and the desire to try new things will lead to many great opportunities. 

What hobbies do you have?  

We’re a very active family. My husband is always running up a mountain somewhere, my daughter does just about every sport going, and mine is the gym. It’s half an hour where I can escape. I do everything from high-intensity classes to Pilates and yoga. I love it.  

A few women in that class are in their 60s and 70s, and if I can be anywhere near as flexible as they are when I’m 60, I’ll be happy. 

Are you a foodie? 

Yes, I love food. Love going out to restaurants, and that was one of the things I really missed during Covid. I love cooking at home, too. I’m the host and love entertaining friends and family. I’m a ‘food in the middle’ type of person who ensures the wine flows and everyone is having a good time. It’s all about the social element.  

If the Chubb SLT team came around for dinner, I’d treat them to a proper Australian BBQ. I’d start marinating the meats three days before. The problem is the weather, though.  

It was a big culture shock when I got invited to my first BBQ in the UK. I got offered burgers and sausages. When I took my husband back to Australia for the first time, we went to a BBQ, and he looked around, and it was completely different. Baby octopus on the grill is very different. 

Do you read books or watch movies? 

I’m an all-or-nothing type of person. I need to be all in if I’m going to read a book, and generally, I only have enough time to read books while I’m on holiday. Once I’m in, I’ll read it within a day or two. I find it such an escape. It’s the same with Netflix. I’ve been known to binge-watch the whole series within a day.  

I listen to podcasts regularly because you can listen while you’re driving, doing the grocery shopping, or doing housework. They’re more off-script, and I find them educational. I love Diary of the CEO because of the guests. Business leaders tell their stories and reveal things I never knew. Women’s Hour is another good one. It’s calm, it’s topical, and there’s a bit of comedy too. There’s also an Australian one I listen to. I am Australian, after all.