International Women's Day - Interview with Debbie Mannas, Wallem Services

Frazer Jones is proud to be supporting International Women's Day 2017. We have interviewed a series of our female clients asking them how they have been bold for change #BeBoldForChange

Frazer Jones interviewed Debbie Mannas, Head of Human Resources at Wallem Services

Debbie Mannas

Do you have any secrets to having a successful career?
I define success by my relationships and the joy I get from being of service, leaving people and places better for having been there. I would say, invest in uplifting and positive friendships, people who are optimistic that we can change the world and are doing something about it, and humour. Stand up for human values. Be authentic. Motivations are fairly transparent to the discerning, and people will support you if they believe your intentions are good and that you will do what you say you'll do.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Feminists (male and female) are seen as dangerous and people will not speak up for fear of repercussions, so the status quo is slow to be challenged, disparaging "locker room" talk slow to stop. Next is the kind of assignments women are awarded and how they are engaged in the workplace. Companies must realise that by not optimally leveraging the talent of women, they are choosing not to get value for their money! Why pay to hire women, even if at 20% less, and then dismiss their opinions and skills? Then there is the very real short term cost of getting women’s wages up on par with their male peers. If gender equality is really truly a value, then companies need to honestly and purposefully be prepared to bite the bullet.

Who inspires you and why?
Mother Teresa, who ruffled my hair when I was eight years old, for her sacrifices for the least of us. I grew up listening to Joan Baez, one of the greatest folk singers ever, entranced by her powerful songs for social change (Birmingham Sunday is one such). The Founder of Community Business and the Zubin Foundation, Shalini Mahtani; Fern Ngai, who runs Community Business; and the fabulous women who run The Women's Foundation. All of these ladies are tireless in their mission to research the issues, increase awareness and build bit by bit, champions for change. Pope Francis, who is challenging the rigid catholic establishment, truly understands that with great power comes great responsibility, and how important the words and deeds of leaders are. Plus, I have been fortunate to have some wonderful male mentors and leaders in my life. I think they know who they are…!

What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you in the workplace?
Balancing their lives and looking after themselves as they seek to prove their worth. We have to do so much more to be recognised for our contributions than our male peers, and I fear this puts enormous pressure on us.

How do you achieve work life balance?
It is key to strategise and plan, then build and align talented, self-motivated teams who move forward rather than firefight. I usually leave on time, and make time for myself: to exercise, maintain my health and engage in my hobbies. My family is everything, so evenings and weekends with family are cherished.