Continuing on our series of Red Heel Day speaker interviews, next up is Alexandra Mills. Alexandra is the CEO of Product Businesses at AussieCommerce Group, which has been named Australia’s Fastest Growing Company by BRW. Mills was previously a professional ballet dancer, and believes her first career helped shape and perfect her leadership skills. A firm believer in transferable skills, Mills has great insight on how you can make the most of your past in the present!
Describe your typical week – what does it look like?
I don’t think I have a typical week! There are some parts of the process that get repeated each week – team meetings, weekly planning for the sites, reporting, but the rest is always so different and I’ll sometimes find myself doing things I could never imagine would even occur! I’m very hands-on in the businesses, and I like us to remain agile, reacting very quickly to things as they happen in case they turn out to be great opportunities. But this does make it hard to manage time!
What inspires you to get out of bed every day?
There is just so much to do I want to get going with it!
Which key characteristics do you see a female leader having?
This is an easy one: belief in herself. It took me a long time to realise this myself, and now I see the doubt in one’s own capabilities in women who work for me, whereas men in the same positions are naturally more confident in their abilities. I think this inner doubt can help succeed in some cases – it can create a thoroughness of work, and a natural humility that great leaders possess. When I was studying at Oxford University, there was continual debate about why men consistently performed better in the notorious final exams than women. After decades of psychological research and testing, the only conclusion drawn was that more men believed they would receive a First Class degree than women – it made me start to believe in myself.
What is the greatest learning you have had?
Hard to pinpoint one! Moving overseas at a young age to attend one of the best (but toughest) ballet schools in the world, in a place where I didn’t speak the language or know anyone, has really shaped me. It was a time where every day I could have given up and gone home so easily, but I remained determined to achieve what I had set out to do. I remind myself of this often when I am presented with a situation I don’t think I can manage.
Why are you excited about Red Heel Day?
I’m excited to celebrate female leaders and entrepreneurs with other leaders and entrepreneurs. I look forward to hearing all the inspirational women talk, as well as connecting with like-minded people. Oh, and any reason to wear a pair of red heels is a good reason as far as I’m concerned!
If you enjoyed our interview with Alexandra, why not come along to Leaders in Heels’ Red Heel Day Sydney Event on October 15 2015? We have a very limited amount of tickets, so get in fast! You can read about our other speakers and buy tickets here!