Making their mark: female leaders at nbn – Engy Yousef
Leading in data
Meet Engy Yousef
If there’s one person used to backing herself and taking the lead in a male dominated industry and world, it’s Engy Yousef.
Born and raised in Kuwait, with a stint in America studying financial economics, Engy spent 13 years working in the banking sector, including as an Executive Manager in institutional lending.
Leading more than a dozen people, Engy was responsible for a portfolio of assets worth $4 billion.
And while she initially felt like banking was all she’d ever know – and be able to do – it was her husband’s suggestion to move to Australia that led her down a different career path.
Yearning for more stability for their children, Engy agreed to the move, knowing she was giving up a great career and would need to start from scratch.
“Coming to Australia, I thought the only natural thing was to go to banking and see how that works.”
But, says Engy, what she felt the industry wanted was your ‘black book’, your connections.
“Who did you know in the market? Who's your portfolio, your customer base, things like that. And that's what I had back there, which I couldn't bring here.”
After experiencing frustration in her job search, Engy reached a turning point.
“I'm like, hang on a sec. It doesn't matter where I am. I'm still that same person. I still have that same skillset that I can carry wherever I go, regardless of industry.
“I just was too focused on banking and trying to label myself when, in reality, it's really not about the industry. It's about what you can transfer.”
And that’s when a role at nbn in data and analytics came along.
That’s not me… or is it?
While the role didn’t seem like an obvious fit – or in Engy’s words, “Completely not me” – the more she thought about it, the more she realised it was a great match.
“Stakeholder management, looking at continuous improvement, and being someone not so into the specifics and technicality could bring that out-of-the-box view from a completely different angle.”
In the interview process, Engy was upfront.
“I'm not a data and analytics person. But I do have the ability to look at things in a different way.”
And that’s part of what working at nbn is all about. We foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture to collaborate and innovate as an organisation and develop better solutions for our customers, partners and the communities we operate within.
It’s why we're boosting diverse talent pipelines to reflect the diversity of Australia, by ensuring we have a shortlist target of 50 per cent females across all roles, diverse interview panels and gender-balanced graduate programs.
Now a Portfolio Manager in nbn’s Development Security Operations team, Engy is proving there are no barriers to her experience or achievements.
“I love my team. I feel they're great, supportive leaders that see the value in what I do, always have my back and support me.
“They look at me like I'm an equal, even though I don't necessarily have the exact same skills they do, but they see the value that I bring to the team.”
Engy’s experience reflects nbn’s culture where everyone should feel supported in being able to bring their whole self into a diverse and inclusive culture that allows the company to leverage different perspectives, backgrounds and experience.
In some ways, it’s a departure from her early experiences with banking clients in Kuwait.
Engy says she used to get brushed off: “‘No, no, send me someone that is more senior and male.’”
Another area where Engy believes gender should not come into the equation is pay.
“Parity in pay, I think that's very important. That's a basic thing to get offered regardless of your gender.”
At nbn, we strongly believe in gender pay equity and have reduced the gap between males and females from 14 per cent to less than 1 per cent in the past six years. And we will continue to focus on this.
Engy’s tips for aspiring leaders
- Don’t box or label yourself – understand your skills that you can bring to any industry.
- There is a famous quote by Henry Ford that says, ‘Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right’, which basically means it’s your attitude and belief in yourself that determines success.
- Be yourself and be open about what you can do, and what you think you can do.