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Kathrine Dyer: Don’t conform just to get by

In our special blog series Women in Leadership, meet the dynamic female leaders at nbn and read all about their incredible professional journeys, their biggest wins, life lessons, and their views on diversity in the workplace. In Part Three, meet Kathrine Dyer, Executive General Manager* within the Network Engineering & Deployment team at nbn.

Image courtesy: Kathrine Dyer

How long have you been at nbn and what’s your journey?

I joined nbn to establish the New Developments (Greenfields team) in 2010.

I joined six weeks before nbn became the Infrastructure Provider of Last Resort, and I quickly had to establish the company’s business model to support the Government’s policy at the time.

This, combined with establishing a whole ecosystem to support the New Developments business, was definitely a pivotal career moment for me.

I was then asked to look at ways that nbn could speed up the network rollout by completing deployment activities in parallel.

An example of this is completing the nbn connection to the side of the end-user's dwelling at the same time as the nbn distribution network was being constructed.

This strategy was implemented by the business and has supported nbn in the delivery of connections in line with the build of the network.

My current role as the Executive General Manager within Network Engineering & Deployment covers a range of national functions which support the planning, design and build functions.

Prior to joining nbn, I worked in a cross section of roles within Telstra for almost 17 years.

Tell us about the biggest opportunities and challenges you’ve had in your career 

Taking on a leadership role within a new division that Telstra was establishing at the time to support the deployment of fibre into Greenfields estates was an interesting experience.

I was told by many people around me - not unkindly but very matter of fact - that a female would never be appointed into that type of leadership role, and that I was jeopardising my career by moving into a “niche” area.

Not only taking on that role, but thriving in it, was a crucial milestone in my professional journey.

Joining nbn in the early days represented another significant opportunity and challenge for me.

Since joining nbn, I have had the opportunity to operate in a number of areas where I have been able to work on network deployment strategy and policy, before operationally implementing it.

As a female leader, what’s your advice for women looking to succeed in the workplace, as well as achieve work-life balance?

My advice would be to view yourself no differently from others, and just keep at it!

I don’t walk into a room and view myself any different because I am a female leader; I view myself as the person capable to do the job.

It is also important to be clear on what you want, and to focus on it.

Although I am a female leader in a male-dominated group, which has been the case for most of my career, I ensure that I am true to myself and my style – that I don’t conform to the group identity just to fit in or get by.

I think women bring a special element to leadership teams and offer a different perspective.

For this reason, it is crucial that women continue to play a role in shaping nbn, and where we are heading.

My advice regarding work-life balance is to make sure you surround yourself with the right people who are going to support you, and be a part of your dreams.  

Kathrine and her family. Image courtesy: Kathrine Dyer

My husband is fantastic and is super supportive of me, and we have a very balanced approach to managing our family.

I have a motto which has served me well – always have a plan a), b) & c) because inevitably things do not always go as expected.

I also believe it is important to be kind to yourself; it is tough managing a myriad of sometimes competing priorities… and maintain your sense of humour!

What is the role of diversity in the workplace?

Diversity to me is about ensuring we have a rich representation of people across our teams to ensure that we are generating great ideas and achieving all our targets.

This is not just gender diversity, but a diversity of backgrounds, cultures and perspectives.

Without diversity, we cannot challenge the status quo or innovate to excel beyond what we currently know.

Having a range of views from people with diverse experience can produce more creative results – this is often more powerful than a room full of technical experts.

As nbn continues to move from our initial start-up days to a dependable and innovative organisation, our diversity becomes even more critical.

nbn is heading into one of the most crucial periods of Australian telecommunications history, with the rollout set to scale significantly.

We need diversity to ensure we are rising to the challenge, creating new ideas and setting a benchmark for our digital future in Australia.  

Article written by Kathrine Dyer, Executive General Manager* within the Network Engineering & Deployment team at nbn.

*Kathrine Dyer has since been appointed Chief Network Deployment Officer at nbn.

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