Article

The Path to Executive Leadership


WORK180Jun 8, 2020

Marnie Williams recently joined Energy Safe Victoria as their first female Director, leading them into a new era as a Commission. With a career in regulatory environments spanning multiple decades, she is excited about establishing the Commission, engaging the public with the fantastic work Energy Safe Victoria are doing in the community, and encouraging more women to join her in the business.

Building a Brand in the Community

Energy Safe Victoria is the state regulator for the safety of supply, distribution and transmission of electricity and gas.

“We’re making sure the supply is secure and there are no incidents or injuries, such as fires caused by electrical assets like powerlines. There is lots and lots of great work being done by our people, but I’m not sure we’re telling our story very well yet. We have a huge amount of technical capability, and there are plenty of opportunities to improve our narrative in the public space.” Some of Energy Safe Victoria’s work in the community includes:

  • Gas heater servicing, “there is a big public safety campaign around getting gas heaters serviced.”
  • Electrical appliance certification to ensure consumer products are safe.
  • Power line and pole inspections, including clearing vegetation to ensure adequate space to prevent fires.

With over 190 people in the organisation, there is “a good mix of field people and office-based roles.” Marnie is excited about bringing the work Energy Safe Victoria is doing into the public eye, “building that ‘contract with the community’ based on credibility and trust.”

Leading Transformation

Energy Safe Victoria is going through a complete structural transformation right now, changing from a single Director with all delegated authority to establishing a three-person Commission and updated governance structure. “We’re changing the way decisions are made. It’s more modern, doesn’t rely on one person to make all the decisions and reflects best practice.”

Having worked in regulatory roles since 1996, with extensive experience at the Taxi Services Commission and WorkSafe Victoria, Marnie’s role is to introduce the new governance structure and then be part of the Commission.

When asked what she is most excited about in her new role, Marnie shared, “for me, it’s establishing the Commission and implementing the current corporate plan. We’re focusing on some big initiatives to prevent bushfires started by electrical assets. The electricity industry has finished the first rollout of three tranches and we are seeing a marked reduction in fire starts from substations fitted with the new technology.”

Marnie is excited to be leading the transformation at Energy Safe Victoria and being part of shaping their future.

Working Your Way to Executive

Marnie is Director of Energy Safe Victoria and it’s not her first C-level position. With her very directed career history, Marnie shared some insights for people wanting to make their way to executive level positions;

Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone

You should always look at the opportunities that are out there and have a go at different things. I was at WorkSafe for 20 years but had about 25 different roles in that time. The advantage of that is that you get a really good handle on all different aspects of an industry, all of which are good skills to set yourself up for an executive role.

Marnie started at WorkSafe as a Field Inspector but says, “I was in that job for not even 12 months and asked to move. Maybe I get bored too quickly! But you’ve got to be brave enough to back yourself.”

Get Help

“Make sure you link yourself up with some good, smart people who can help you on your journey – a mentor or coach. Talk to someone outside of the bubble of your organisation to get independent advice.”

Look for managers who aren’t afraid to give constructive feedback on where you can improve and as a leader, create an environment where you provide that as well.

“Some of the best managers I had weren’t telling me how fabulous I was, but where I could improve.”

Know Yourself and Look for Development Opportunities

Do as much as you can to learn about yourself because self-awareness is really important to position yourself for your next role. This includes knowing your strengths and development gaps.

“Doing development things like psychometric testing where you learn about yourself are all good input to knowing more about yourself.”

“You can be passive or active, and I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to manage my own development. I’ve always sought out different things I can do to learn about myself - courses, shadowing, mentoring or coaching others (you learn as much about yourself as you do about the person you’re coaching!). You never stop learning, and if you take on that growth mindset your career will take off.”

Insider Tips About Energy Safe Victoria

Marnie invites people who are motivated by doing social good to join Energy Safe Victoria, “we’re here to keep people and properties safe. The organisation is incredibly welcoming, full of people with diverse backgrounds, and we are on a journey of transformation.”

Energy Safe Victoria “are also very much looking to improve our gender balance, and to support and promote women. Women are welcomed with open arms, and I think the appointment of a woman to the Director role shows there is plenty of room in this space for talented women.”

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WORK180

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