Ahead of our Journey to Excellence with Mazda on Friday 18 October in Auckland, we spoke with one of our panelists, Debi Boffa, Managing Director of BP New Zealand. Debi started work with BP in 1997 and has held positions in Engineering, Terminals, Retail, Sales & Marketing, Procurement, Strategy and General Management with BP in NZ, Australia and the USA. She was appointed Managing Director of BP New Zealand in 2017.
Why is diversity and inclusion important for New Zealand businesses?
The best companies in my experience are those that are open to a diverse and balanced work environment, supporting and actively promoting workplace equality for everyone. It’s essential for economies and communities to thrive. Whatever sector you are operating in, you are more likely to be able to create offers and products that people really want and need if the make-up of your teams reflects your customer-base, has diversity in opinions and ways of thinking. Good leaders and businesses know that, and they use people’s differences to foster growth, not to limit it.
What’s the biggest hurdle you have faced in your career?
Underestimating the transitions of accepting a new role, in a new country, where I was leading a team responsible for a functional area I didn’t have direct experience in – one of those “development roles” you get thrown! I was totally out of my comfort zone. I went in thinking to be successful all I had to do was do the job exactly like the person before me …… massive fail!
How did you overcome it?
I was lucky enough to have a line manager who gave very honest and challenging advice (I knew exactly where I stood and what I needed to achieve to turn things around and by when). She also recognised that I needed some help and assisted me in finding an external coach. Their support helped me out of the rut and taught me two valuable lessons:
(1) When you are offered a role, they are offering it to you based on YOUR skills and what YOU will bring to the role, you should never pretend or try to be someone you are not.
(2) The roles you find most challenging and may not be your natural preference, are the ones where you will learn the most about yourself and build your capabilities the fastest.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Be kinder to yourself – you are your own worst critic when it comes to self-confidence. Back yourself and be bold! Remember the bumper sticker dad put on the back of the car when you were younger … Girls Can Do Anything!
How do you balance family and work?
One day at a time!
What are the top 5 traits of a good leader?
(1) Someone who inspires and empowers others to enable teams and individuals to achieve their best – beyond what they thought they could.
(2) A genuine care for people.
(3) Humility and self-awareness.
(4) Honesty and integrity.
(5) Passion and energy.
What advice do you have for negotiating a pay rise or a promotion?
Prepare for the conversation, be able to articulate your value and what you bring to the role but also know your gaps and have a good action plan you can talk to if this gets thrown back at you. Also do your research and be realistic around expectations given the market/sector you work in and what your company position is around pay relative to market.
What’s the number 1 thing that a company that wants to start operating under a culture of equality of opportunity could start doing today?
Workplace equality is achieved when all people can access and enjoy the same rewards, resources and opportunities regardless. It’s recognising that we all have a role to play in ensuring we have an inclusive culture and therefore a successful business – collective action and shared responsibility for driving a balanced world is key.
You can meet Debi at our next Journey to Excellence with Mazda, Friday 18 October 2019 – click here for more details.