Inclusivity and equality in the workplace: An interview with Laila Billberg

09 Mar, 2021

Laila Profile Final
ACT General Manager Laila Billberg

In recognition of International Women’s Day in 2021, we recently interviewed our ACT General Manager Laila Billberg to gain some insights into what equality and inclusivity means to her, as well as her journey to leadership at Ignite.

What is your view on inclusiveness and equality for men and women in the workplace?

Equality to me means equity. I believe we must strive for a world where diversity and inclusivity is normalised, and we truly value the different traits and attributes that people can bring into a workplace.

Which women in your life have inspired you and why?

My aunt has been an inspiration to me all my life. She has held leadership positions since she was 28 and has always been my mentor and “go to person”. I’m also inspired by Jacinda Ardern, the current Prime Minister of New Zealand. She leads from her heart and is setting some amazing precedents of what qualities a good leader needs to be successful in the modern world.

What challenges have you faced as a woman on your path to becoming a leader?

Unfortunately, there is still a noticeable gap between women and men in the workplace. I have always felt the need to prove myself to be better than a male counterpart in order to gain an equal amount of respect. One challenge I’ve faced on my path to becoming a leader has been getting my voice heard, particularly as a female and an immigrant since moving to Australia. These challenges have definitely made the path to leadership more challenging.

How do you build resilience?

The best way to build resilience is to face challenges and issues head on. In business and life, problems will inevitably arise. However, if you see these as opportunities for growth and learning, over time, you will build greater resilience. When you approach issues with this mindset, problems are unlikely to become emergencies. As a leader, I’ve found that it’s important to take time out and reflect on the challenges you’re facing to overcome them and build your resilience.

What three pieces of advice would you give to upcoming women leaders?

Firstly, I recommend finding a mentor. Someone you trust, respect and can have honest conversations with. I currently have two mentors: a work one and a personal one. Both of these individuals have played a key role in my career progression and personal development.

Secondly, I recommend taking risks and embracing your failures. Every failure I have experienced in my career has taught me more than any other learning. How you overcome failures and learn from them is what will define you as a leader.

Thirdly, its important to practice being a good listener. You will learn so much by listening to the people around you – your colleagues, peers, friends, family etc. Being a good listener is an essential part of forming strong relationships, which in my opinion is crucial to effective leadership.

At Ignite, we are proud to have so many amazing women within the Ignite family, from entry level roles to executive and board level. It is all part of our broader commitment to equality, inclusivity and parity in the Australian workforce. Laila’s Ignite journey reflects the pathways available for aspiring female leaders within our business, and serves as inspiration to any young professional looking to climb the corporate ladder.