Interview

Michelle Taylor interview

5 min read


08 Mar, 2019

Interview with Challenger Chief Executive, People, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Michelle Taylor.

We've been recognised again as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) in 2019. 

In this interview, Michelle Taylor discusses what gender equality means to her, and describes some of the challenges she has faced as a woman during her career.

Q. Can you tell us about your current role and how your career has grown at Challenger?

A. I lead the People, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability team which looks after all aspects of human resources , stakeholder engagement, thought leadership and sustainability. I joined Challenger a little over two years ago to head up Corporate Affairs and Advocacy and twice since then I’ve had the opportunity to further develop my skills and experience with additional responsibilities.

Q. What advice would you give to young women starting out about how to drive their career?

A. Borrowing from great advice I have received from many inspiring women I know, take risks and be resilient. Don’t wait until you feel ready, or worse still, confident - back yourself.

Q. What challenges have you faced as a woman throughout your career?  How did you overcome them?

A. Here’s the trick with gender equality issues - they’re often hard to see up close and painfully obvious from a distance. The statistics should be enough to tell us that there are still structural obstacles to women in their careers.

That said, I did have one experience personally that reinforced for me the reality of the challenges women can face. When I had my first child I was told by a senior executive that I was the one who had decided to have a baby and I needed to wear the consequences of that for my career. Needless to say, I left that job and haven’t looked back.

Q. Who inspires you or who has had the biggest influence on your career?

A. Some years ago I had a wonderful manager who put a lot of faith in me and provided me with flexibility when I really needed it. She was a great operator with lots of experience that she generously shared. I always felt supported to succeed, even at times when I needed to step back from work for a while, and it made a huge difference to my career.

Q. What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A. In many parts of the world, including our own, women face horrendous abuse and disadvantage for no other reason than their gender. That same structural inequality also expresses itself every day in smaller but important ways. 

Gender equality is one of those challenges that can only be tackled with a big spotlight - and IWD is one such spotlight. It would be very easy for us to continue along with the best of intentions and never achieve equality. We need to continue to make the issues visible to everyone, not just those who personally feel the ramifications. Achieving true equality will take deliberate and targeted action from everyone.

Q. Why do you think gender equality is so important?

A. I really hope we’re past the time where we need to answer that question! 

 

At Challenger everyone is part of a group that is committed to building a sustainable future and encourages inclusion, diversity and community involvement. If you would like to find out more about our commitment to our employees, or read our Diversity Policy, visit Our commitment webpage.