Guest Blog - Women in Accounting & Finance: Laavanya Pari, Svitzer

Paul Smith 05.03.2019

To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Accounting and Finance. They will be discussing their success, career-defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Laavanya Pari, Chief Financial Officer at Svitzer, had to say.

laavanya_pari_svitzer.jpgProfile: Laavanya Pari is the Chief Financial Officer at Svitzer Australia, the largest employer of Australian seafarers and part of the Danish listed AP Moller Maersk global business. Svitzer has provided safety and support at sea since 1833 and is continuing the tradition as the global market leader within towage and marine related services, providing a crucial link in the Australian supply chain with more than 50,000 tug movements a year. Laavanya has held several leadership positions over her six-and-a-half years with Svitzer Australia. Laavanya began her career with Grant Thornton in external audit and has also had commercial experience in London.

What are the key habits that you feel make you successful?

I feel part of my success has come from my focus on people. I prioritise those around me regardless of how busy I am. I regularly hold one-on-one meetings, which I rarely cancel or reschedule, and I make a point not to look at my phone or watch, and never rush. This also includes small things like always saying hello and goodbye to everyone when arriving or leaving.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you have received in your career and how did it help you?

A former CFO said to me that we never have a ‘mandate’ for change and that sustainable change is achieved through consultation and respect. At the time I was frustrated that a change I was looking to implement was slow and met with roadblocks at every turn, even when I felt it was the ‘right’ change. This advice helped me to shift my approach. I realised that if I wanted the change to go through smoothly, I needed to take others with me on the journey, keep them informed and help them see the benefits for all of us.

What is the most challenging situation you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

The most challenging situation I have faced is in relation to my recruitment choices and how they would be perceived. I have always made recruitment choices based on merit. At the same time, in the back of my mind, I always consider what others would think of the decisions I had made, and if they believed it were for particular attributes of a candidate. For example, if I had chosen a female candidate, would they believe that I was favouring candidates because they were a woman? Since then, I have been very clear in my own mind on my reasoning for choosing the best fit candidate for the role. At times I have had to defend my choices on occasion, so I am always clear on the reasons for a preferred candidate and am prepared to discuss my decisions. This approach has helped me both in the workplace and personally.

How do you approach making a difficult decision?

Most importantly for me, I must believe that it is the right decision to make for both the company and the employee(s) involved. Often these two factors go hand in hand. Once I am confident this is the case, I am comfortable in making the decision and actioning it.

What do you believe will be the most in-demand skills over the next 10 years within any discipline and why?

Whether you are in Finance, HR or any other discipline, I believe personal agility is the best skill to have. Our systems, processes and daily environment change on a day to day basis, so it is vital that we can keep up the pace and adapt. Struggling to keep up with these changing demands will mean that you will not be able to keep up with your customer demands, whoever your customer may be.

Join in on the conversation on Twitter for this years' International Women's Day using the hashtag #BalanceforBetter

Paul Smith's picture
Senior Consultant | Accounting & Finance - Commerce & Industry (Permanent)
psmith@morganmckinley.com.au