International Women’s Day: Q&A with Claudia Certoma

March 13, 2019

Taylor Root is proud to be supporting International Women’s Day 2019. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.

We would like to join the discussion and be part of International Women’s Day 2019 #BalanceforBetter campaign on the 8th March by interviewing inspiring women we work with and, in particular, understanding the role confidence has played in their career.

We interviewed, Claudia Certoma, General Manager – Legal – Residential, Frasers Property Australia.

How do you define confidence, particularly in the workplace?

Being secure in yourself, having self-belief and an appreciation of your unique value, and the ability to be open and authentic with others.

How do you think the confidence gap affects women?

I think it affects how we act and our behaviours and therefore it impacts many things including the interactions with others, the effect we have on others, the opportunities we take, the work we choose to do, who we interact with at work (particularly superiors) and all of this ultimately can impact the degree of influence we have in the workplace and the promotions and recognition we get.

Do you think women’s workplace confidence has improved over the past few decades? Please explain why.

Possibly yes, but this has come as a result of a lot of hard work by women to consciously address how we can improve this.

How important have confidence and self-belief been in achieving your career goals? Please explain why.

Immensely important. It is the most important thing and I wish we actually had more training, mentoring relationships and report/manager relationships purely focused on improving this.

Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome (where you doubt your achievements and have an internalised fear of being exposed as a “fraud”)? If so, how did you overcome it?

Yes, it is a loop of constant self-judgment and perfectionism which can be crippling if you don’t realise what this is and stop it. You must be self-aware in order to improve and develop, but then recognise you are not expected to be perfect or know everything, that diversity in skills and strengths is valued and the key to success is collaborating with others to get things done.

How much has risk-taking contributed to your career development?

Measured risk taking is critical. You have to try new things and improve with practice and by developing a variety of skills and getting exposure to different things. I enjoy taking on different roles and being exposed to different industries.  Everyone needs a stretch to develop further.

How important is mentoring, coaching and sponsorship in helping women to grow their confidence at work?

This is very important.  For anyone, it is extremely helpful to have a superior who recognises a person’s potential and merit to sponsor that person and coach and guide them to realise their potential.

How can confidence-building be built into career development strategies?

This is a great objective!  The most obvious way would be to give people different projects and role opportunities which stretch them, but ensuring they have support.  

What can be done to ensure a woman being assertive in the workplace doesn’t negatively impact on colleagues’ perceptions of her?

This can backfire for men too, so the same principles apply to everyone.  Be confident and assertive, but always be reasonable and consider others. Personally, I always take a global view of things. I try not to push my own personal interests or desires outside the context of the interests of the company or team. I do think everyone has a responsibility to our organisations and to the people we are given the privilege to interact with and manage and develop.  Simply collaborating helps people perceive you as someone who isn’t just being assertive because you are single minded. You need to show you are assertive not just for yourself, but for others too.