“I won it because I’m a woman in business making a difference. It means I’ve been recognised for some great work.”

– Susan Foenander, Business Administration and HR Manager at Wallington’s WRG

Wallington’s WRG has been in business for 20 years. Traditionally made up of an all-male executive, Susan Foenander was the first woman to join the leadership team. A leader with a mature outlook and exposure to the operations and processes of large corporate organisations, such as the Commonwealth Bank, Ms Foenander used that experience to assist the Wallington leadership team achieve targets in two years, rather than the five years they had predicted.

When they first interviewed Ms Foenander, the executive team said, “We need someone who is innovative and who can think differently”. Ms Foenander suggested a ‘whole-brain’ approach to employment rather than hiring the same kind of person with certain key competencies. She encouraged recruitment based on an applicants’ fit within the business rather than their skillset. In regards to leadership, the ‘whole-brain’ approach is a concept related to flexible thinking on both sides of the brain. Not only did Ms Foenander challenge the way in which Wallington’s hired staff but also introduced the idea of working closely with charities and hiring staff that have accessibility or learning challenges.

“A good leader is open and collaborative. There are times we have to be traditional leader… 90% of the time (I’m) a collaborative leader… I think openly, share information, and enable the team to work together. 10% of the time I have to own the information, adopt specific rules… Getting the balance is key to getting it right,” Ms Foenander said. “Whole-brain thinkers, creatives, strategists, concrete sequential people… That’s how we get people to think differently and take people forward.”

A 12-month Committee for Geelong membership was awarded to Wallington’s WRG in recognition of Ms Foenander being the recipient of the 2020 Geelong Advertiser Business Woman of the Year. She is looking forward to being exposed to the greater Geelong region and the opportunities to diversify her professional circles and networking with other Committee for Geelong members.