FROM working at a hamburger shop to a non-executive director for Wesfarmers, Diane Smith-Gander has had quite the career.
The professional non-executive director was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and has been appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia for her service to business, women’s engagement in executive roles and gender equality.
Her mother Betty Smith-Gander received an Order of Australia in 2004 for her service to the community, particularly through the Australian Red Cross.
Ms Smith-Gander’s career includes two years at National Broadband Network Company as deputy chairwoman, Committee for Perth director and Chief Executive Women past president.
Being in male-dominated industries, Ms Smith-Gander said she faced many challenges, such as being asked to take the notes, make the coffee or finding personal protective equipment that would actually fit.
“A tip: take bad notes and make cold coffee; you won’t be asked again. I did have the challenge of loneliness early in my career,” she said.
“When you are the only one of anything it is lonely; you struggle to be taken really seriously and mis-steps that might be overlooked in others are somehow more visible when you are the only one.
“The challenges I faced have not changed enough; the fact that I am now in my 60s and after 40 years in the workforce things are still not equal is more than disappointing.”
Having the award beside her mother, she said she had always been proud of her achievements.
“My mum is 89 and there aren’t many women of her age who have been both mothers and career women,” she said.
“She gave the expectation that I would have a career and be independent.”