Five minutes with Geniere Aplin, EML Group Executive - Personal Injury
As EML celebrates diversity and the role women bring to the workforce in the lead up to International Women’s Day we have undertaken a series of interviews with our leaders.
EML Group Executive Personal Injury Geniere Aplin is a lawyer by trade, holds an Executive MBA from the AGSM and has 19 years’ experience within the insurance industry.
Geniere, please tell us a little about your current mandate.
I lead teams across Australia who work in partnership with amazing businesses, providing third party claims management and career transition services helping people get their lives back.
My mandate includes our EMLife business, customers who are self-insured for workers’ compensation in the state and federal schemes, the wellbeing business and our claims optimisation group.
My most important role is leading my teams so that they are empowered, engaged, high performing, outcome focussed and innovative. If we all feel like this the financial and customer results follow.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
The realisation early in my career that practicing law was not making me happy was a great challenge, revelation and marked a new direction.
After all the years of study and surety about being a lawyer it was difficult to make that career adjustment. This is where my mentors came to the fore helping me realise that something only has to be ‘forever’ if you let it be.
I took a role in insurance with the same ethos. If I felt the same way as I had about my legal career I could always adapt and change. I think that was the start of my drive toward transformational roles where growth, learning and change benefit the individual and the business.
What advice would you give women looking to forge a career in your industry?
I have never really thought about my gender in my industry, even when I was the only woman at the table in the early days. I would advise women not to think about their gender as much as I would advise them not to obsess over their weaknesses. Instead it’s important to recognise your weaker areas and engage in as much learning as possible to strengthen them.
Focus on what you do really well, what engages you and look for opportunities that leverage your strengths. Many people starting out in an industry wonder, “Are we enough”? Know what you do well, that you are more than enough and go out there and tackle the opportunities.
If you are a member of, or lead a team, be a good leader. Engaged and empowered teams with a clear purpose deliver unprecedented customer and financial outcomes.
Never stop learning. Connect with people in and outside your industry who can help you learn. Read business articles, research other industries to find innovation. Most of all take these learnings and share them with your teams and networks. Then put some of them into motion.
Who has been your biggest influence professionally?
A myriad of sources and experiences influence who I am as a professional and a leader. This continues on a daily basis. I have always had a great passion for learning, experiencing and observing so that I can continue to improve myself personally and professionally.
My parents were very influential, creating a strong work ethic and belief in helping others through voluntary pursuits. From an early age I observed that the most satisfying achievements were the ones that you worked hard for, where you learned new skills along the way and honed your capabilities.
My parents taught me the importance of goal setting and disciplined execution as nothing can ever be taken for granted. I also thank them for teaching me patience and grace under pressure. I asked a lot of questions and they always answered them, fueling my desire for learning. This taught me to ask questions but also to relish being asked. The more we do, the more we can have an open discussion in business, understand the real situation and innovate our way forward.
In my career I have had the privilege of working with so many inspirational team members and leaders. I ensured that I learnt something from each of them.
The biggest influencing traits for me have been:
- outcome focussed delivery
- team empowerment
- a genuine passion for an organisation’s purpose
- the ability to design products and services with the customer truly in mind, not from a place of unconscious bias
- and the ability to have fun
What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing gender equality in the workplace?
I rarely think about my gender in the workplace. But there are times when I have been forced to over the years. It includes when I have been the only woman at the table; a much lesser occurrence over the last five years.
The worst however is when being recruited for a role someone says, “I shouldn’t be saying this, but it helps that you are a woman”. And they’re right, they shouldn’t have, as up to that point I truly believed that I was shortlisted on my merits.
The challenges of getting greater gender diversity in senior positions can be countered by men and women supporting capable women. If you are currently in a role and have aspirations, find male and female champions in your industry who can help you gain the knowledge you need and be advocates for you.
The best advocate though for your career is you. Don’t think about gender. Think about your abilities. If you are in a role which recruits people for senior positions always think about skillsets. If there are not enough women to meet the quota think about how we change that. Please don’t tell them they are on the list because they are female. This does not help anyone approach the recruitment process with confidence.
What do you believe women uniquely bring to the table in senior positions?
Women being women and not trying to be men bring a lot of capabilities to the table in senior positions. My experience has been that women are generally more intuitive then men and are often able to read a situation unfolding more quickly, with the same level of professional experience.
What does International Women’s day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a celebration of diversity. The best teams I have worked in are those which have a diversity of experience. Whether this experience comes from being a woman, from another culture, or a person that has never worked in that industry.
Days like International Women’s Day celebrate diversity – something we should all be doing if we want more customer focussed products and services that better represent the communities we work in.
If we only have products and services designed by one gender and race, then we will have one lens on solutions. On International Women’s Day, I want females to feel free to celebrate the differences until the day comes when we no longer need to.