From Indigenous Scholar International Study Tour participant to CEO for a Day
Thursday 19 March 2015
Twenty year old Noongar woman, Shelley Cable, was one of the 16 winners of this year's GenerationOne CEO for a Day competition, which provided successful applicants with the experience of leading an organisation, and learning from some of the best in the business.
CEO for a Day is one of GenerationOne's initiatives aimed at breaking the stereotype that to be Indigenous means to be disadvantaged.
“We want all Indigenous Australians to dream big, and work hard to achieve their goals, and this experience will help illuminate the career pathways available to Indigenous people” said Jeremy Donovan, CEO of GenerationOne.
Shelley experienced being the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where she was mentored and supported by Mr Ian Narev who runs Australia’s largest financial institution.
In her winnning entry Shelley said that being CEO for a Day would give her a glimpse into the future that she already works hard every day to achieve: “where Indigenous Australians realise and achieve what they are truly capable of. ...I want to mentor and inspire Indigenous youth to aim for the impossible, and then achieve it".
Shelley’s leadership qualities were recognised early on in her tertiary studies. She was honoured with the esteemed John Curtin Undergraduate Scholarship which funded her Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Finance at Curtin University. The following year Shelley was awarded a Rio Tinto Indigenous Cadetship. In 2014 Shelley was selected as one of 19 talented students and graduates to attend the Aurora Project’s Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour where she was able to explore postgraduate study options at some of the world’s most prestigious universities.
Shelley shared with us her experiences of being CEO of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, for a day. She described her sources of inspiration and explained what motivated her to apply for the GenerationOne competition.
Sources of Inspiration
"I guess one of my biggest inspirations is knowing that I am leading the way for Indigenous youth and Indigenous Australians to achieve at an educational and a professional level. I know that we are so underrepresented in these kinds of areas so I am more than honoured to be able to bring that change about and inspire people to do the same. So that pushes me quite a lot to achieve at the highest potential that I can, so that other people can do the same.
"Other inspirations would be my family. My grandad has played a massive role in inspiring me to go after what I want and what I really can do, and actually to work hard for it. He was a football player and he gave up everything to play footy, and that kind of dedication and commitment flows through our veins almost, and that inspires me to work hard in everything I do, and reaching the top of the corporate ladder is something I know I can do and if I work hard enough I know I can get there.’’
Shelley's CEO experience
Talking about her experience of CEO for a Day at the Commonwealth Bank, Shelley said:
"It was so much fun. The day started really early, I got up before 5am to read through the Commonwealth Bank’s Reconciliation Action Plan and a couple of other things in preparation for the day. I was out of the door before 6am to get picked up in a taxi.
"We went off to the International Women’s day breakfast, which was awesome. There were about 2000 people there and it was all about discussing women’s participation in the workforce and other issues surrounding feminism. Ian went up and did a speech about female role models in the Commonwealth Bank, and he actually gave me a shout out in front of 2000 people, so that was awesome.
"It was so exciting to see everything at a high level, what’s going on at the Commonwealth Bank, what the issues are that they are facing. We had a great lunch actually. It was called the Mosaic Group, it was a diversity committee of about 30 people around a massive table. All we did was discuss diversity issues, how we can increase diversity and there were some great ideas around that table. I was surprised by how important diversity was to Commonwealth Bank, and how serious they were about it. Ian was genuinely passionate about it.
"To finish off we went to an internal cricket competition and as CEO I got to present the Commbank cup to the winning team which was really fun.
"Before the day, I always knew I wanted to be 'the first Indigenous CEO of a major international company' but it’s crazy how much (that day) has inspired me and reconfirmed that this is actually what I want to do.’’
Shelley's advice to other Indigenous students
When asked what advice she had for other Indigenous students, Shelley offered the following,
"Go for it. Everybody has high potential but some people don’t believe they are worthy. Believe in yourself and give yourself a chance. I still don’t think I’m at that level, yet I was.
"Don’t take yourself out of the running before you’ve given yourself a chance."
Shelley has recently stepped into a business finance role at Shell and is currently applying to complete her MBA at Stanford University.
To read more about other winners of CEO for a Day Competition click here
Jeremy Donovan, CEO of GenerationOne, praised the work of complementary organisations like AIME, the Aurora Project (The AspirationInitiative), CareerTrackers, Indigenous Accountants Australia, and Yalari who had existing relationships with some of the entrants.