Friday, 07 May 2021 11:38

IT execs share the best pieces of advice Mum gave them and its impact in honour of Mother’s Day 2021 Featured


Mums are beloved for everything, but they’re also well known for their amazing life hack advice, which was around long before the term “life hack” existed. So, what of that advice has helped some of Australia’s top IT leaders get to where they are today?

Mother’s Day. It’s this Sunday, 9th May, and despite new COVID restrictions in NSW, there’s no general lockdown and no lockdowns in other parts of Australia, so it will be a much more normal Mother’s Day for many than this time last year, when we were still in the grip of national lockdowns.

We’ll all no doubt be celebrating and loving our Mums as never before this year - love you Mum! - for their continued presence in our lives, for all that they have taught us in life, and everything else.

So, what are some of the best pieces of advice that respective mothers gave what are now some of Australia and New Zealand’s top IT executives, and how has it come to impact their careers?

The execs are as follows, and their commentary is below!

Lyra Mackay, Evangelist, Zoho Corporation

Lyra Mackay and her Mum

My mum has always boasted the importance of ‘living happy’ in whatever you do. Throughout my education and into my career, she spoke less about proving myself with long work hours or saying ‘yes’ to everything, and more about finding fulfilment in my life outside of work.

This, she’d say, is how you actually achieve a long, happy career; work/life balance As I navigate my career in the technology industry, I try to fill my days outside of work with as much of the things that bring me joy as possible.

Afterall, as my mum would say, when we leave this earth, the most important part of our lives will be the experiences we felt - so find the balance between staying young and driven, and actually enjoying everything else this world has to offer.

This personal fulfilment outside of work is important to me, and I'm grateful that it’s important to the company I work for, too.

Aliky Kouroupis, Client Success Director at MuleSoft

My mum came to Australia from Egypt at the young age of 11. She's now an academic who speaks five languages and, in many ways, is a trailblazer in her own right. There's no specific piece of advice she spoke to me to inspire my now 28-year career in technology.

Rather, it was a combination of her rich life experiences and her own grit that motivated me to pursue a multinational professional path.

Throughout my life, she's always been my advocate and cheerleader; I never felt pressured into pursuing a successful career, but I also knew I'd have her full support if I chose to do so. I'm forever grateful to my wonderful mother for inspiring me, both in the workplace and beyond."

Kristen Pimpini, ANZ Country Director, Twilio

My mum played a huge role in me becoming the person I am today. From an early age she instilled in me that honesty is the best policy, regardless of the situation. Having raised three children of her own, she put her career on hold to give us the best upbringing she could.

After 20 years, she returned to the workforce more determined than ever. From this, she taught me resilience, the importance of believing in yourself and doing what makes you happy. She also emphasised that if something is worth doing, it's worth doing well.

This is a quality that I’ve taken onboard through all aspects of my life - from personal to professional - and something I've made a point to pass onto my own children. 

Marybeth Sheppard, SVP Marketing at SevenRooms 

My mum is a total badass. She raised seven kids and cared for her ill mother who lived with us. Flexibility is so important today, but typical jobs at that time would never have afforded her the flexibility she needed. So after many years at home, she went back to school and launched a new career and started her own tax and accounting business.

We always laugh about getting stressed about work. As important as your work may feel in that moment, it's not what you're likely to be thinking about on your deathbed. She taught me to "work to live, not live to work".

Perspective is so important. My mum taught me that family is always #1, but that it is possible to be both a mum and a strong, fierce business professional at the same time. You don't have to settle for the options expected of you. Instead, you can follow your own course to make room for what's important to you.

My family and kids are my everything and I wouldn't work anywhere that didn't let me bring my whole self to work every day and provide the flexibility needed at home.

Tamara Oppen, Managing Director at GoDaddy Australia 

Tamara Oppen and her Mum

My Mother is from Eastern Europe, so instilled in me from a young age the importance of a strong work ethic.

That was something I focused on during my education, throughout my career so far and I’m actively passing on to my children today. Alongside this strong work ethic, some of the advice that has really resonated with me is to always stay true to your values, don’t chase financial reward, keep a growth mindset, and try to learn something new every day.

That advice has followed me everywhere and has underpinned a career that has presented so many fantastic opportunities, exciting challenges, and an incredibly diverse range of roles; from global businesses to bootstrapped start-ups. Without that focus on passion over money,

I can safely say I wouldn’t have had nearly as stimulating a career so far. It’s not been easy, but I encourage people to do things that will challenge and scare you and don’t be afraid of failure - some of my greatest learnings have come from my greatest failures in life.

Kathryn Speirs, Marketing and Brand Specialist, Vend 

Kathryn Speirs and her Mum

My mum has always been very supportive of me growing up; during my education, my personal life and now in my career. She was especially supportive when I first entered the workforce after finishing university when everything was new and I had lots to learn. That support made what can be quite a daunting transition far more manageable. My mum has always been a role model, encouraging me to strive for success and pursue things that make me happy.

She also always encouraged me to work in an industry with future growth prospects, which is exactly why I have found myself working at a tech company like Vend that is driving innovation for so many small and medium businesses. So, it is safe to say that her advice has served me well so far, and has contributed to a very exciting start to my career in the tech industry.

I'm so thankful I've had my mum to look up to as a source of advice - I wouldn't be where I am today without her. 

Dhannu Daniel, Managing Director, Management Consulting Accenture

Dhannu said: "My mother has been a guiding light for me and my siblings throughout our lives. She became a young single parent, with two children under the age of 5 while pregnant with my sister, when my father passed away unexpectedly at the tender age of 31. Thrust into being the only breadwinner, she decided to migrate to Australia from Malaysia with three children, to take up a teaching position in Melbourne with the primary goal of providing better opportunities for her family.

When I think about her influence on me, there are three things that stand out (amongst many others) which has significantly helped me in my career and overall life:

  1. Keep Learning - She was an advocate for education and always emphasised that education is something no one can take away from you and gives you further opportunities in life. This focus on learning and quest for knowledge has helped me view studying and learning new things as a critical part of life
  2. Be Grateful - From the time I was young, I always remember Gandhi’s saying displayed prominently in her bedroom “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet”. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, have compassion and be grateful which is something I try to practice every day, especially during challenging times.
  3. Stretch yourself, take risks - My mother took risks in her life, venturing away from her comfort zone. She has always encouraged me to take risks, step into the unknown and not to be restricted by fear.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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