Leading a business
For Fiona, having a problem-solving mindset is critical to ongoing success, particularly in an industry which is impacted by the weather, supply issues and, of course, COVID-19.
“The bushfires last year were really stressful - it put pressure on our supply of wood so we learnt a technique of how to use burnt wood which was extraordinary and a world-first,” she says.
As for her own ability to manage work-life balance, Fiona says the fact family has been a focus in her business for a long time has kept her in check.
“We're a business family. My husband (PACT Group Founder and Chairman Raphael Geminder – affectionately known as Ruffy) is a passionate businessman, I've got two girls in business at the moment and my son works at Visy.”
One step at a time
Being a female leader in the highly male-dominated industry of manufacturing, Fiona is keenly focused on what Visy can do to increase gender balance and representation across the business.
“It is very challenging - there's no silver bullet,” she says. “I'm very proud to say 43 per cent of our new hires are women. It's [been a] gradual process but it's a start.”
Fiona says Visy has also been implementing policies to encourage female participation and learning from other businesses, both in the manufacturing industry and beyond.
As for what the future holds for Fiona, she says statutory retirement is definitely not in her plans.
“I'm going to be here till I'll drop dead in my chair!”
You can listen to my whole conversation with Fiona in the podcast above.
Shayne Elliott is CEO of ANZ