All Betts on Sally-A Female Leader’s Success Story within the Public Sector
Guest blog by Kerri Blackstone, MCI's award-winning lead facilitator
Our currently enrolled group of Women in Management students was privileged to hear what our Waverly Councilor, Sally Betts, had to say about being a successful woman. Since this group of students is comprised mostly of women in the public sector (many from the New South Wales Police Force), having such a prominent representative of the public sector, was a suitable fit.
Sally started her address by stating that the way we interact with people will help us get where we need to get in life. Throughout her many stories it became evident just how relevant this statement is.
After attending boarding school and never having the opportunity to go to university, Sally went to a guidance counselor to seek some career advice. She was told that she would fail in university and went overseas instead.
It was the 60s and therefore Sally saw for herself just two options; either become a secretary or a teacher. She chose the former and admitted to hating doing this kind of work. She also dabbled in modeling and worked for a while as a flight attendant. She shrugged and said, “There were no high hopes for me. None of the women in my family were formerly educated.”
Sally made the brave decision to migrate to Australia in the early 70s after meeting somebody at a cocktail party who sang praises of the Land Down Under. She decided that she needed to make something of her life and took various jobs to buy a place to live. She started to read motivational books too. “One lesson I learned was that when a person walks down the street, one should walk a little faster than everybody else on the street.” I suppose this is a good way to let people know that you’re on a mission and to rewire your brain to think that you’ve got important things to do and to get on with them.
After a while Sally made a concerted effort to come to like the people she worked with. This opened many doors for her as she focused on investing in her personal relationships. She also attended Toastmasters which she said has helped her career so much; equipping her with the skills to think and speak simultaneously and to be able to improvise a statement or conversation about any topic.
Sally continued pushing herself, running for a state seat. Even though she lost, endured the anguish of numerous death threats, she learned that she was smart, important and that people would look up to her.
Somebody approached Sally from the Red Shield and of course she welcomed the opportunity for many reasons, including that one should never say no to God! Her work with the Red Shield continues today and Sally is involved with numerous fundraising endeavours.
Sally has been working with Council for 16 years. At first she was bullied, sometimes being told, “You’re an idiot!” “I told myself not to cry,” Sally told us. “I toughened up a lot.” She has even had to endure cyber-bullying. Her advice to victims of bullying is that bullies are cowards. Some action steps to take: try to get out of the situation; make an excuse that you have to come back to them and then call them back or re-approach them. This will give them an opportunity to cool off and they will usually back down.
One fact that Sally seemed to be very proud of is that Waverly Council had, at one stage, nine out of 12 female councilors. Sally commented that women make great managers because they can multi-task and make good decisions using their ability to see the bigger picture. Women can also, when negotiating, compromise, to reach a solution.
Sally loves reading. She’s been lucky enough to meet important people, incredibly interesting individuals. She advises that we should always make time for people because we can always learn from them. She highlighted the importance of continually stimulating your brain.
Throughout her life and career, Sally has been told she she’s too young, too old, too large… She has kept her head up and remains focused.
Her practical advice for this group and indeed for all women pursuing professional growth is:
• Network-learn from the men. .
• Look after other women.
• Appreciate every member of staff-give people a helping hand up.
• Write things down; your goals and action items. Keep lists.
• Don’t try to be like men.
Sally ended her address by reading her favourite poem entitled If You Think You Can, You Can, by Dennis Wattley and then urged the group, “Your attitude is everything. Your country needs you. Your community needs you.”
Thank you Sally!