Senior manager creating a balanced career
Starting as a graduate and working her way up to senior manager, Tahlia Dunlop has built an impressive career in risk and internal audit. Working for a firm that values flexibility and leads with a culture of care has been critical to her feeling supported in her professional success.
Graduating from Deakin University with a dual degree in commerce and law, Tahlia Dunlop wasn’t so sure which pathway she would take.
While initially more interested in the law, a desire to explore a career that allowed for a better workplace culture saw her looking at different options.
During her search her mother spotted a job listing which included ‘undertaking fraud investigations’. This intriguing career pathway led her to her current role in risk and internal audit at Pitcher Partners Melbourne and the rest as they say, is history!
Always learning through a diverse workload
While it may not be an area a student actively identifies as a career goal, Tahlia is glad to have found her way to being a risk and internal audit specialist.
“I really enjoy how broad the work is, and the clients that we work with,” she says.
“For example, one day I am working with a local government client to ensure they are understanding the needs of their community, the next I am working with a community health organisation to ensure they are managing their clinical incidents and learning from them to prevent them happening again. The diverse nature of the work means I am always learning something new”.
Working hard and seizing every opportunity that was presented to her, Tahlia is now a senior manager in the Risk and Procurement Advisory team. The diverse experiences she embraced, from writing tenders and winning client work to attending career days or presentations to new graduates, helped to build her skillset to what it is today.
A culture of care
Drawn to Pitchers for the culture of growth, care and support, Tahlia has found being surrounded great managers and a strong team critical to supporting her professional successes.
“I always strive to deliver the best that I can in everything I do,” she says.
“Being well-researched and prepared and the added benefit of a supportive team has made sure I feel encouraged and energised to succeed at work. I have always felt supported by the team, which has given me the confidence to speak up and feel empowered to make change, and to encourage others to do the same.”
Experience is everything
A well-rounded talent, Tahlia has become a critical part of her team. Her growth taught her the importance of effective delegation, and how hands-on experience is the greatest tool to ensuring success in your next role.
“The transition from Assistant Manager to Manager (and now Senior Manager) was certainly a very challenging one,” says Tahlia. “After years of being able to rely on myself and my own work to get me through, I had to quickly learn how to effectively delegate. I think it was during this transition where the word ‘experience’ really started to make sense. You can be ticking all the boxes, but time really is the only way to get the experience and gather the tools you need in your toolbox to take you to that next level and be able to execute that role to the best of your ability when you get there.”
Policies that provide balance
Having recently returned part-time from parental leave, Tahlia found the firm’s flexibility a critical tool in managing the transition back to work. The support from the firm in balancing family and work responsibilities has made things significantly easier for her.
“The firm’s ‘Work Where You Need to Be’ policy and being able to work from home and switch up my hours while I adjust to part-time work and daycare life has made the shift back to work so much more manageable,” she says. “I can’t imagine trying to do all of this in a workplace that doesn’t support flexibility.”
While she feels she is still finding her feet with her new working arrangements, the flexibility has afforded Tahlia a fresh perspective on her work-life balance and what success looks like.
Communication has been key to balancing expectations and ensuring the flexibility doesn’t impact her work or impede on her responsibilities to her family.
“The main piece of advice I can give is to communicate,” she says. “Communicate your workdays through your Teams status and your Outlook calendar. Communicate your expectations of those you are working with and your availability on your non-workdays – can you reply to the odd Teams message, or are you going to be out at swimming lessons for the morning? Can you take a call during nap times, or do you just want to enjoy the day with your baby (because that is also ok!)?”
Supporting people through equitable processes
When considering equity in a workplace context, acknowledging that the needs for each staff member are different is a critical first step. Given her recent experience of returning to work after parental leave, Tahlia believes the way new parents are supported is crucial.
“In an effort to promote equity we should ensure parents feel supported and included in the lead up to, during, and return from parental leave,” she says.