Podcast | S2E1 Tone at the Top: Nicola Wakefield Evans

Podcast | S2E1 Tone at the Top: Nicola Wakefield Evans

Podcast | S2E1 Tone at the Top: Nicola Wakefield Evans 1402 788 Risky Women

Join Nicola Wakefield Evans in the Boardroom.  As a Non Executive Director of Macquarie, Lend Lease, AICD, and the Chair of Australia’s 30% Club, Nicola shares insight and wisdom on her career, what makes a successful Board, and the best practices needed to create good culture and governance starting at the top. Of course we talk about the impact and value of diversity too!

Points of Interest
  • 1:03 Career
  • 12:15 Role models
  • 14:51 Characteristics of a high performing board
  • 19:44 How boards help organizations learn and anticipate and adapt
  • 21:52 What boards are doing to influence tone at the top
  • 31:16 Gender diversity
  • 37:46 Rants & Revelations
  • 39:36 Rapid Fire Round

I was brought up to believe I could do anything!

I learnt early to take risks.  Be ambitious and brave! …and take calculated risks. [and] Plan and set goals!

 


TRANSCRIPT

Kimberley Cole 0:01
This is Risky Women Radio a show to connect, celebrate and champion women in risk, regulation and compliance, sharing insights and perspective from the most influential members of our global Risky Women network on the latest developments, we need to think about, the challenges we should all talk more about and the innovations we are most excited about in governance, risk and compliance. Bringing together the hundreds of senior women professionals already connected with a new emerging group of leading women and men. I’m Kimberley Cole, your Chief Risky Woman.

Kimberley Cole 0:39
Welcome to Risky Women Radio. Today’s Risky Woman is Nicola Wakefield Evans. Welcome, Nicola.

Nicola Wakefield Evans 0:46
Thank you, Kimberley.

Kimberley Cole 0:47
So it’s great to have you here today. You have had an amazing career that spanned the globe. You’ve moved from the law to now directorships at some of the leading companies in the world. So can you tell us all about your journey today and what have been your highlights?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 1:03
I spent 30 years working as a lawyer, a corporate lawyer, with the firm King & Wood Mallesons, the large Australian Chinese law firm. And I had a fantastic experience at that firm, where I was allowed to do a number of different roles. I also worked in a number of different cities. So while I was at the firm, I was sent to New York in the 1980s as the first female associate transferred overseas, which at the time was a big issue. I then later had positions in our Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and then a management role in our Hong Kong office. So that enabled me to do many different roles in the same organization and as corporate law firms have evolved over the last 30 years I’ve been at the forefront of that evolution. And so I got a great experience both as a lawyer, but I also got fantastic management experience because I was put on into management roles quite early on in my career as a partner. I was appointed a partner of the firm in 1993. I had client roles. I was the head of our M&A group in Australia, I had a partner in charge roles were Sydney office, which at the time, was the biggest office. And then I was appointed managing partner in Australia to look after clients and our partners and then I was transferred to Hong Kong to look after our international business. Over the years, I just kept taking on different roles and developing.

Kimberley Cole 2:37
And how would those opportunities kind of presented to you with a sort of things that you were particularly targeting or just things happened along the way?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 2:47
I think it was a mixture. You know, my first big role within the firm was actually as a comment to Essa in the 1980s to work in their upstream oil and petroleum business in Australia as a lawyer for a year. And then after that, I was asked if I wanted to go to New York. And it was big thing for the firm, because in the 1980s women were just starting to make their careers in the big law firms, there was a worry about sending a young female lawyer overseas. That role sort of was presented to me, I didn’t seek it. But certainly some of the roles I did go after. Once I started to get management experience I obviously wanted to go to the next level. The appointment as managing partner in 2004 and then to go to Hong Kong in 2007 were both quite deliberate choices I made because I was then thinking about where will my career take me I could be a lawyer until I retired. Or I could give myself the opportunity to get different experience and maybe go into management roles. And it was that move and the move to Hong Kong that ultimately led to the career I’ve got today as a non executive director.

Kimberley Cole 4:02
So tell us more about that. So you’re a non executive director now, multiple companies and organizations.

Nicola Wakefield Evans 4:09
So I was my first big appointment was in 2011 when I was approached to join the board of Toll Holdings in Australia at that stage Toll was a large listed transport and logistics company. They were specifically looking for somebody who had run a business in Asia, preferably Hong Kong, because they had a big operation in Hong Kong, and my name came up so I was headhunted for that role. But having said that, I had had a lot of experience being on boards. So I’ve been on my old school board and I chaired the school council. I’ve been on a number of client boards, and I was the chair of the firm’s operating company for some time. So I’d had, you know, good 15 years experience of being a director. And so this just to me seemed to be the next sort of evolution of what I should do. So I was still living in Hong Kong when I joined the Toll board. And then we moved back to Australia and I was then faced with a decision about whether I would continue being a partner of King & Wood Mallesons or would I use the fact that I was now on one listed board to try and get further appointments. And that was a very interesting process. I spoke to a lot of people. And in 2013, I was asked to join the boards of Bupa Australia and New Zealand and then then Lend Lease the big Australian property and construction company. And those two appointments led to my decision to retire as a partner and become a non executive director. And then shortly after my retirement, I was asked to join the board of Macquarie.

Kimberley Cole 5:55
That’s brilliant and obviously both in your legal career and now in your director career you’ve got a really broad portfolio of different companies from banks, construction, etc. And that’ll be interesting for us to understand from that board perspective risks and how you manage those. So what were the motivations around your career choices? So I guess initially why, you know, why did you decide to go into the law? What was your passion there?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 6:23
Well, my, my father was a lawyer. And we, so I guess I grew up surrounded by lawyers and some very interesting lawyers in the 1960s and 1970s and 80s in Australia. Both my parents actually had friends who were professors of law, partners of law firms, head of civil liberties organization in Australia. My father was a magistrate. So I saw a big cross section, and at the time, it wasn’t common for women to do law degrees. I actually originally wanted to be a pilot, a commercial pilot but I was a couple of years too early and the Royal Australian Air Force rejected my application to join the Air Force once they found out that I was a woman. And so I decided to follow my father, follow in his footsteps, a decision he was thrilled about both my parents were very encouraging. And I was brought up to believe I could do anything. So I didn’t see any roadblocks when I first went to university. I was also lucky to go to the University of New South Wales Law School at a time when it was a new law school in Sydney. It was trying to be very different from the established law school that was there. And so I was there at a time when it was very exciting to be both a student of the law school at that university, to be at that university, and also to be the time when more and more women were doing law and I was lucky also to be in a graduating year that contained some remarkable women like Shemara Wikramanayake who has just become CEO of Macquarie, Elizabeth Broderick, who was the former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Cheryl Bart, who’s an explorer that has had a very successful career as a company director, Maxine Brenner, who’s also a non executive director and former lawyer. So we didn’t see ourselves at the time is doing anything different, but I think we’ve supported each other for over 35 years, and have all been very successful. And we put, I put it down to the support that we got from a number of people but also the university we went to an amazing alumni.

Kimberley Cole 8:45
So you’ve also been very celebrated. You were selected as a member of Advance Asia 50 as one of the most influential Australians living and working in Asia, in 2011, as a member of the Global 50 for leading Australian women working outside of Australia, and the Financial Review named you in 2013, as one of the inaugural 100 Women of Influence. What lessons can you share with us that you’ve kind of learned along the way in your career?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 9:17
A couple of things. I have been lucky to have both mentors and sponsors, and I think that’s incredibly important, particularly for women throughout their careers. It’s not something you you really should seek at any particular stage. But I had, I was lucky to have a couple of very outstanding women who were slightly ahead of me at King & Wood Mallesons, Robin Chalmers who became the first female chairman of a major law firm, Ilana Atlas, who’s now the chair of Coca Cola Amatil, who I worked with in New York and her honor justice Julie Ward, who’s now on the Supreme Court of New South Wales, and they were real leaders in the way they behaved, the way they mentored, sponsored and supported young female lawyers coming up behind them. They all showed fantastic characteristics of leadership. So I was, I have always said I was really lucky to be in a firm that had inspiring women like that. I also learned very early to take risks because I watched my male contemporaries and noticed that a lot of them did take risks with their careers, they were ambitious and they were brave and I thought there’s no reason why I can’t be the same. It was risky for me to go to New York as a young laywer, it was also risky for me to go to Hong Kong in 2007 with 4 school aged children and and husband who had a big career of his own and to just move everybody from Australia to Hong Kong. But they’re calculated risks, you know, I went into them with my eyes wide open. The other thing I’ve always done is planned, I’m a big believer in things happen for a reason and you can also plan for things to happen. So I’ve always had an idea about where I wanted to go, not necessarily how it would happen. But I’ve always set myself goals. And I sort of started doing that in my late 20s. And I still do it today, you know, what would I like to be doing in five years time and when you think like that, you don’t have a lot of time then to do the planning or to take the actions that will get you to that outcome. And it’s advice that I give to a lot of young women today. Don’t take anything for granted. Plan what you want to do if you want to work overseas, work out how you’re going to do it. If you want to continue on a career trajectory, if you want to get into senior management, you have to build the foundations to do that. Fantastic.

Kimberley Cole 11:56
So mentors and sponsors take calculated risks; be ambitious, and brave, and plan. Fabulous advice. Now you mentioned several women that have helped you along the way and being I guess, role models. Who was some of the other role models that you’ve, you know, really been inspired by?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 12:15
The first role model I was inspired by was my mother. She was very unusual. She worked pretty much my whole childhood, which in the 60s and 70s was unusual. But she did some very interesting things. She worked in New South Wales, to make sure that women had work-based childcare. So she set up the early policies and procedures to enable governments and corporations to set up work-based childcare centres, because she understood that if we were going to get more women into the workforce, we had to deal with the question of childcare. She went to university when I was 10. And because there was no childcare at that stage, she used take my youngest sister with her into the lectures and just park her in the bassinet under her table. And she was very, very conscious that she didn’t want that for us all for women coming behind her. She also had a view that women could do anything, and that you shouldn’t be held back by inequality or laws that prevented you from doing what you wanted. She was my first major role model. And then, you know, an early person I really admired was Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who’s just chalked up 25 years as a Supreme Court Judge in the US. But in the 60s and 70s, for a young law student, she was one of a handful of lawyers who were really changing the world for women, she worked on a lot of seminal inequality cases, and discrimination cases in the US, she had a very smart way of thinking. She was the person who coined the word “gender inequality,” she didn’t want the word “sexual inequality” to be used, because she thought it would lead to people thinking about the wrong thing. And it’s interesting that there’s a spotlight on Ruth Bader Ginsburg today, because her career has been inspiring, particularly for a lawyer. And then there are women like Diane Smith, and a lot of the top Australian corporate women who have worked really hard to change the landscape for women in corporate Australia. She was the president of Chief Executive Women and she joined a long line of fantastic women who have worked really hard to increase the number of women in both executive and non executive roles.

Kimberley Cole 14:51
Very inspirational the RBG documentary that’s out at the moment. So let’s shift gears a little bit and get into the sort of expert opinion piece really keen to get some of your thoughts and the view from your sort of vantage at the board level. So given your position on several, you know, of Australia’s leading companies as a board director, can you share what are the key characteristics that you think are important for a high performing board? And what are the attributes of board directors that they need to hold to be effective in delivering their duties?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 15:29
It’s a really interesting question, Kimberley and I, at the outset, I want to say that I think, particularly in Australia, but globally, the role of non executive directors is under the spotlight at the moment. And in Australia, it’s under the spotlight because of the Royal Commission into the financial institutions. The report, which was handed to the government yesterday, and will be published next week, will have a lot to say about how our biggest organizations are run including how the boards operate. We’ve had the regulators with a spotlight on how boards operate, I really think that the role of a modern non executive director has been evolving over the last pretty much the last 20 years, but it’s really accelerating at the moment. There’s been a change in community attitudes, the community’s demand, I think, will continue to man a lot more of non executive directors. So that means that the attributes, you need to have the mix of directors on a board, companies and boards need to pay more attention. So the key characteristics for a high performing board, the biggest one is to have a mix of directors with a mix of skills, diversity, and backgrounds. There’s a lot of debate at the moment about what a high performing board should look like. And I really think that it’s going to be different for every different organization. So there’s not one a one size fits all, there’s not the same formula. And directors and chairman need to be a lot more proactive, around seeking potential directors with the right skills, and to make sure that those skills and the characteristics of a director fit with the other directors. There’s a lot of debate for them at the moment, for example, that every board needs somebody with cyber security expertise or innovation expertise or AI expertise, I don’t really buy into that. I think that you need to each board needs to look at the organization where that organization is on its journey, and what skills are needed at that particular time. And then looking into the future, more work, there’s no doubt that more and more work is now being done by boards around succession, chairmen are looking more out with three to five year horizon around the skills they need, and making sure that they don’t have gaps, either unexpected or expected that that come along, and that they have identified potential directors who could join a particular board. A high performing boards, I think, also need to have people who can look over the horizon. Interestingly, boards have a much longer term view of a company and its performance, than necessarily the executive teams. So you need to have people who have experience at looking at what’s coming, where disruption is, where innovation’s coming, changing regulatory approaches, changing in competitor mix, and who are constantly thinking about those issues. And that really I think is something that’s evolving much more around what is expected of a board because executive teams are busy managing companies, boards need to do, I think, a lot more around strategy. So high performing board will spend more time on strategy than a board that’s not performing well. And by that I mean, not only setting the strategy for a short, medium and long term, but also looking at the performance of the company against the strategy, constantly testing that seeking views about whether there needs to be a change in strategy, or whether the company’s actually performing against the strategy set out by the board and the senior management team.

Kimberley Cole 19:44
Yeah, I mean, there was some feedback in one of the reports that came out before the Banking Royal Commission about how do you or the need to really drive critical thinking and thinking about the bigger picture? Obviously, the board is setting the strategy, but how does the board help the organization in terms of their ability to learn and anticipate and adapt as well, is key. And we can get into more of the the measures and processes, but how how does the board help sort of track that without being operational I guess?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 20:17
Well, I think there’s a couple of things I’m seeing, it’s certainly my, my experience, a number of boards now bringing in experts to talk to them about different things. That’s the first thing. The second thing is boards need to understand their organization, I think the days of not visiting offices, factories, work sites, and also understanding the competitive landscape are gone. Directors need to understand the business that the company’s in, the competitive landscape, and you need to, I’m a big fan of directors getting out, going into the company, visiting different offices, on two of the boards I sit on, we do trips overseas, where we go to every region that we operate in, and we spend a lot of time with our employees. And that’s done through a whole different range of things, having lunches, meetings, presentations, walking the floor, walking around construction sites, there’s no better way to actually get a feel for the culture, and how a company’s operating than to see how its employees are performing. And it’s it’s absolutely fundamental. And I think it has been done for a long time with those companies that look at safety, where safety is the number one risk for them. So costruction companies, transport companies. But I think this is something that all boards now need to do they need to understand their organization.

Kimberley Cole 21:52
And that’s interesting as well, that that corporate culture piece. So, you know, tone at the top has been a really hot topic, given some of the corporate scandals and the misconduct that we’ve seen. So how do you get that strong corporate culture and for better compliance and risk and business outcomes? What are boards focusing on in order to sort of really influence that tone at the top?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 22:17
The first thing the board needs to understand what the culture is. So what are the values of the organization? What’s the ethical climate that they’re operating in? There are a number of ways to test that, you know, do you understand, have you read the company’s Code of Conduct? Have you interrogated the head of risk or the general counsel, or the head of compliance about the compliance against codes of conduct? What statistics does the board get about breaches around codes of conduct or indeed any code, you know, the technology code, the traveling code, any of those sort of things, are actually a really good measure of how employees abide by the rules that are set in the organization, the rules will be different depending on what that organization does. But I have observed that there’s a difference in language between those companies that deal with safety, where they are absolutely clear that having safe work practices is an imperative that they will not tolerate unsafe work practices. The language that they use, in their codes of conduct, on their websites, in their annual reports in their public documents about safety is absolutely clear. When you look at companies in other industries, for example, the financial services industry, the language around misconduct is not as clear as that safety language. And I think we need to move to that we need to make it clear to our employees that they need to operate ethically, they need to comply with the rules, they need to comply with codes of conduct. And it’s not until we that we get to that stage, and I think the Royal Commission, Banking Royal Commission in Australia, showed that the companies had all the codes, they weren’t monitoring compliance, or they allowed the compliance to drift to suit business imperatives.

Kimberley Cole 24:14
Or also not challenging and looking at really what was best practice. You think about some of the things where people could say, “Oh, we’ve had no calls to our whistleblower hotline,” well, that should probably bring an alarm bell rather than it being seen as a success.

Nicola Wakefield Evans 24:37
That’s right.

Kimberley Cole 24:38
So it’s kind of interesting in terms of how, how companies interpret …

Nicola Wakefield Evans 24:43
That’s right, So on a couple of my boards, the board, and now getting monthly statistics from HR, or the legal team, around breaches of codes, and the consequence management side, because that’s as important as understanding the statistics around compliance, what are you doing about it? And how are you measuring, measuring and communicating what you’re doing around breaches, because it’s really important that employees and executives understand that there will be consequences and that the company is going to be clear about enforcing them.

Kimberley Cole 25:26
So obviously, managing risks is very key for for boards. And there’s also this, you know, 360 degree view that you need to have. And one of the things that came out of one of the reports from the banking perspective was that, you know, the financial performance had actually been very good. And so therefore, perhaps there wasn’t enough challenging of what was the operational risk? What were the compliance risks, that, you know, that was highlighted by several of the regulators. So you know, what you’re saying, if you’ve kind of getting a dashboard, you better view you’ve been able to be more proactive and preempt some of this.

Nicola Wakefield Evans 26:04
That’s exactly right. So I think dashboards really important and the board needs to get the information. The board has to say to management, we need to see and then outline, what statistical information…

Kimberley Cole 26:20
Again, that gives also of view then of what the management’s monitoring as well. So…

Nicola Wakefield Evans 26:24
That’s exactly right. And I do think there’s going to be more focus this year on making sure that boards are getting the right information, because the other thing that came out in the Royal Commission was some boards not getting timely information about correspondence with regulators and interaction with regulators and their regulatory policies probably weren’t as sharp as they should have been. My view is, that’s all being reviewed. And boards are saying, you know, this is what we require things like material correspond, needs to go into the chair and the board within 24 hours, particularly if there’s a potential reputation impact. Secondly, that there should be a policy, that you respond to regulators within a certain amount of time. Very, what I would think, quite simple measures. But again, looking at that, and then making sure that that policy is enforced.

Kimberley Cole 27:23
Yeah. And the interesting thing as well, that you’ve mentioned, but I’d love to dig a bit deeper into is, obviously you sit on Macquarie, so financial banking, then you’ve got Lend Lease, what do you learn across the different industries? And even beyond the boards that you sit on? What Where do you think you can apply industry best practice? And how do you do that from one industry to another?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 27:49
That’s actually one of the most interesting parts of being a non executive director with a portfolio of directorships. Because you see how different companies respond to different issues. And if I go back to what we were talking about what makes, what does a high performing board look like, part of it is having directors who have a cross section of different experiences, who are on different boards, who have done different things, so that they can bring different ideas, it’s the difference of ideas that I actually find really exciting, because you can’t assume that the organization that you’re on the board actually has the best of anything. And in fact, you want them to be continually thinking about doing better. So do we have the best safety policy, Lend Lease, which prides itself on having an uncompromising view about unsafe work practices, changed the way it approached safety, materially, about six or seven years ago, Steve McCann, who’s the CEO, decided that there were a number of jurisdictions in the world where we could not work safely. So Lend Lease got out of those jurisdictions. It’s very unusual for companies to do that, and to base that decision on a safety issue. He then had the team, the executive team, work on, how do we get to the next level, to operate safely? What do we have to do? And a lot of work was done, where we now have minimum standards for everything we do.

Kimberley Cole 29:33
And did he look at other construction companies or did he go and look at, like airlines or…

Nicola Wakefield Evans 29:40
He looked, the company, looked globally at best practice in our industry, but also in, you know, what other industries were doing. We did look at the airline industry, because they do have, you know, they’re obsessed with safety, you wanted to get obsessed with safety, which I think largely that he’s achieved that with this focus on safety. And as an example of where you can look at a whole lot of different things, to actually build something that’s better, within an organization and change the culture, and Lend Lease, in my view, definitely changed its safety culture, became obsessed about it. It wanted to be as good as the best performing companies in the world, whatever industries they were in, from a safety perspective. That’s not to say, though, we can rest on our laurels. Safety is one of those things, that you have to be right on top of and you have to be continually taking it to the next level, because safety is all about the performance of people. Why do your people do something? And if you look at accidents and incidents, a lot of them are because somebody wants to either take a shortcut, or they’ve not put in place things that need to be put in place to do something. How you get inside an employee or a contract as head to make sure that they don’t do that? There’s lessons to be learned there for the financial institutions on misconduct…

Kimberley Cole 31:10
and maybe some of our sporting institutions…

Nicola Wakefield Evans 31:12
and maybe some of our sporting institutions as well in relation to culture.

Kimberley Cole 31:16
So you mentioned a lot about, you know, diversity and I guess, ultimately diversity of thought, skills, etc. and you also chair the 30% Club in Australia. Congratulations that this week, just slightly missed the 30%, but very close. So what is your ambition now for the 30% Club?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 31:38
It’s a very complex question. The goal that was set in 2014, by a combination of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the 30% Club Australia, was to have 30% of non executive directors of the ASX 200. So the top 200 listed companies of Australia reach 30% of female non executive directors by the end of 2018. We announced last week that we’ve reached 29.7%. So we’re really close. Really pleasingly. We’ve done that over nearly four years without quotas. It’s involved the work of an enormous number of people. So obviously, the AICD, the 30% Club committees, but we also have 100 of our top chairmen of our listed companies who are involved. We’ve had great support from the federal and state governments. I like to call out Kelly O’Dwyer, who’s been a staunch supporter of the 30% Club and the concept since it was brought in. And the ASX of course, with its governance guidelines for listed companies. We’re not going to sit on our laurels. So the goal was deliberately set for a group of companies, we now need to make it a sticky goal so that 30% is the floor. But we need to make it a goal to reach a larger number of organizations. Interestingly, over the four years, we’ve seen a big shift in the appointment of women on government boards. Most state governments now have a minimum requirement of 40 to 50%, or 40/40/20, or 50/50. And most of them are well above 40%. So the concept has actually dragged a really good performance in other areas. And we’ve seen the same in a number of our large public, very private institutions. We need to do more in relation to organizations like sporting bodies, we need more women on some of our sporting bodies, we’re likely to expand the number of companies that we want to reach 30%. If you look at the total portfolio of listed companies in Australia, the statistic is not fantastic. If you look at for example, at the ASX 300, we’re just under 20%. So we’ve actually got a long way to go. But what we’d like to do is use this really great piece of work that we’ve done to date to now look more broadly across our institutions in Australia.

Kimberley Cole 34:18
Yeah, and the performance globally is actually pretty impressive given there’re no quotas. So obviously, Scandinavian countries are higher with quotas, but compared to especially a lot of the Asian countries, you know, Hong Kong’s at 13.8% women, so it’s actually going in the right direction…

Nicola Wakefield Evans 34:35
It’s going in the right direction and we are really pleased with, particularly after last year, where we thought that we might go backwards, after a number of very public issues that happened last year in relation to women. But pleasingly I think we’ve got the momentum. So our goals will be to make it sticky. So that for the 200, we don’t go below 30%. And then to broaden the number of companies that will acquire 30% female directors.

Kimberley Cole 35:06
And what have you seen, obviously, there’s been a lot of changes in gender diversity over the length of your career at both executive and non exec level, what have been the key changes that you’ve seen, and kind of the impact that you think that that’s made?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 35:21
There is almost no role now that women can’t do. So if you look at just the last 30 years, we’ve had a lot more female lawyers, which is the profession I come out of, we have a lot more women in corporate roles. Still not enough. I mean, we’ve talked about non executive directors, our statistics on executive, female directors, so women in top executive teams in companies, is not fantastic. And that is another goal that we’re going to work towards and work with organizations like Chief Executive Women, and the AICD, and the ASX because they are the pipeline for the non executive side, we need to increase the number of women in senior roles in our organizations. I think the other thing I’ve seen, and I’ve observed over my working life, our policies to encourage, attract and retain women in the workforce, but policies that actually now work for all of our workers. So maternity leave has led to paternity leave so, or family leave, flexible working environments, flexible working hours, is a benefit that is now available to both men and women. It’s really accelerated a change in attitude about how we work. And that’s benefitted both men and women. But I think it’s just the sheer number of women coming into the workforce that’s enabled us to do that. And I do think that cultures change as you get more women in a workplace.

Kimberley Cole 36:59
Yeah, absolutely. You know, the support of initiatives like the Male Champions of Change and the work that Liz Broderick did has been incredible as well and such a huge change.

Nicola Wakefield Evans 37:11
And that’s become a global phenomenon with a lot, the equivalent in Hong Kong, this is is rolling out now Champions of Change globally.

Kimberley Cole 37:22
Through her UN role yeah…

Nicola Wakefield Evans 37:23
Her UN role, so it’s absolutely fantastic.

Kimberley Cole 37:28
Connecting, celebrating and championing women in risk, regulation and compliance, Risky Women Radio takes an intimate look at the rants and revelations of the top women shaping the debate and the industry.

Kimberley Cole 37:46
So my favorite part of the podcast now, Rants and Revelations. So let’s start with your revelation. What’s your top piece of advice that you have been given and that’s really helped you progress your career so that you would provide to our more emerging women and men in risk, regulation and compliance?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 38:09
I’m going to say what I told a group of young students in Hong Kong last weekend: be brave and be ambitious.

Kimberley Cole 38:15
Yes, rush, and rush your ranch. If you were ruler of the world for a day, what would you change or if you had that magic wand that you could…

Nicola Wakefield Evans 38:26
It’s two things, I would remove all forms of inequality. Sadly, we’ve talked about the great strides women have made in breaking down barriers. But the pace of gender equalization has been slow. And the latest World Economic Forum estimates that it will take 217 years until we to achieve gender parity and solve gender parity globally. So I think that’s a it’s a huge issue. And then my, one of my passions, is we need to solve the scourge of domestic violence. Which arguably claims more lives annually than terrorism but receives a miniscule amount of government funding globally. And it’s a real barrier in holding women back. Just the sheer amount of violence that women are subjected to.

Kimberley Cole 39:17
Risky Women is a vibrant network at the center of a global community in a rapidly growing, evolving and influential industry. Given the continued pace of change, our rapid fire round revisits the most pressing topics to share ideas and offer listeners new perspectives.

Kimberley Cole 39:36
So what are your predictions or key trends for the year ahead?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 39:42
I think it’s going to be an interesting year. If I look at Australia, we’ve got several elections. We’ve got a federal election and a state election. We’ve got the Royal Commission into financial institutions, the report of which will be announced next week, there’s also a current Royal Commission into agecare. There’s a lot of reviews of different industries. So I think it’s going to be an interesting year in Australia, it’s going to be a year of two halves, the first half with the election that the you know, the New South Wales state election and the federal election. And then hopefully the second half will see things becoming more stable once we have a new government in place.

Kimberley Cole 40:25
And given those thoughts, but from a world perspective, are you optimistic, pessimistic or neutral in your outlook for 2019?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 40:33
I have say I’m generally an optimistic person. However, I am neutral about 2019. And I’m neutral because while global economies are still growing at approximately 3%, which they have been doing since the GFC, there are headwinds and the risks are building, we don’t know how Brexit’s going to play out and that will have an impact. We don’t know how the trade wars’ are going to play out. We don’t know how the Chinese economy will go. Those three things align, and there are a lot of other things that are happening – could have big impacts on the on the world economy.

Kimberley Cole 41:15
Absolutely. And before we get into a few more fun ones, we’d like to ask what’s your cure for the cost of compliance?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 41:22
Be smarter, use technology better, and embed a culture of compliance.

Kimberley Cole 41:29
Fabulous. So what’s a book that you recommend that everyone reads?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 41:34
So my favorite book over the last couple of years has been 40 Autumns by Nina Willner, she’s American, and has worked for a long time in American intelligence. The book though, is the story of her family, who was split between East and West Germany. So it’s the story of her mother’s family, and her mother escaping East Germany, but she tells the story of how East Germany became the subject to the regime that became subject to and what I find fascinating is that the things that happened there, we’re now seeing happening globally. So there are really scary parallels from her book, and her story. And it’s a beautifully written memoir. It really is. But it’s it’s got these scary parallels about what happened to East Germany and what’s happening today.

Kimberley Cole 42:25
Excellent. Something to watch.

Nicola Wakefield Evans 42:29
RBG. So I’ve already spoken about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she has a very interesting documentary of her life, which is currently available, which is just inspiring because it demonstrates just the impact she’s had not only in America, but you know, she made governments change laws to remove gender inequality. And governments all over the world copied what America did after she took a lot of states to court in the 60s and 70s. And then there’s a movie just about to be released, called On the Basis of Sex, which is a movie about one of the cases that she prosecuted, with her husband, to bring, it was the groundbreaking gender discrimination case, before the US Court of Appeals. So I think it’s the year of RBG. She’s become a bit of an icon, particularly amongst young women just because she, she’s had this fantastic career where she’s been single minded, and in the pursuit of removing gender inequality, and the movies timed to celebrate her 25 years as a judge on the Supreme Court of the US.

Kimberley Cole 43:40
Fantastic. And we of course, love a good podcast. So what’s your favorite podcast?

Nicola Wakefield Evans 43:46
Well, Risky Women. I like to call out two if I could: Women With Clout, so Catherine Fox and Jane Caro, and Chat 10 Looks 3 with Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb.

Kimberley Cole 43:58
Two of my favorites as well. Well thank you very much Nicola Wakefield Evans for being our risky woman and it’s been a fantastic chance to have a conversation with you.

Nicola Wakefield Evans 44:09
Thank you. Thank you Kimberley.

Kimberley Cole 44:11
This episode is brought to you by our founding sponsor Refinitiv. Refinitiv serves more than 40,000 institutions in over 190 countries. Refinitiv provides information, insights and technology that drive innovation and performance in global financial markets. Refinitiv enables the financial community to trade smarter and faster, overcome regulatory challenges and scale intelligently.

Kimberley Cole 44:37
Thank you for listening to this exciting episode of Risky Women Radio to connect, champion and celebrate women in risk regulation and compliance. I’m Kimberley Cole, based in Hong Kong. For more information on the risky women global network, head to our website, in the Episode Notes and please be part of the ongoing conversation by saying subscribing to this podcast, connecting with us at Risky Women on Twitter or even reaching out to me directly by email.

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