Covid-19 update.

More info

Back to News and Media

Waste Management's Amazing Women in Leadership

In celebration of International Women's Day 2022 we're spotlighting some of Waste Managements amazing women in leadership.

Four amazing wāhine speak about their roles, being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry and what IWD means to them.

Ingrid Cronin-Knight: GM Strategy, Customer & Sustainability

Ingrid, what do you love about the job?

There are three things I love about my job – working with great people, driving a growth culture and influencing and forwarding Aotearoa toward the circular economy.

What’s the biggest challenge?

I think creating a culture and opportunities where our leaders and teams can drive the company forward is always a challenge and then also managing capacity so our business can evolve to achieve our strategy and 5-year plan whilst meeting the day to day demands. The last one is an art and science because you want to take care of our people’s wellbeing which includes challenging them and making progress, but not so much that it creates burnout.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

To me it represents the opportunity to say thanks to all women for the great way you manage, juggle and keep our families, organisations and communities flourishing. This is a bit of a change in storyline for the day but I am no longer interested in it being a day where we discuss pay equity, representation or other key challenges. Essentially, where we compare ourselves to where we could get to. To me it’s a day to say you are amazing at what you do, in how you roll today, and you don’t need to compare yourself to anything. You are great as you are and more than anything I want for us to say to women “We see you, we hear you and we’ve got your back.” I also have a secret hope, I would love it to be the one day a year we give all women off to take a holiday and celebrate who they are.

What advice do you have for women looking to take on leadership roles within a traditionally male-dominated industry?

Firstly, jump in. It never gets any easier and you will use your smarts to figure it out. If you can’t you can always get help. Even in my current role I remember speaking to my mum during the interview process saying it’s a big role… I was worried about juggling it and time with my young kids… and she just turned to me and said “good!” – really encouraging me to jump in. Secondly, invest in yourself, in your learning. I know that can be hard when you are juggling work and kids and other pressures, but I truly believe that by working on your competence you naturally grow your confidence and you will be a better leader. With open online learning and microlearning there are so many ways to do this. Lastly, there is a nuance to working with stakeholders to drive change. Generally, I find smaller groups of aligned people can have a profound effect, so invest your energies and passion collaboratively working with people that can help you get where you are leading and extend an open invitation to other stakeholders to join the party.

Sarah Whiteman: Wellington Regional Manager

What do you love about the job?

The people. My fabulous team in Wellington that make me want to rock up every day. The variety, the challenging environment, the contribution to a larger purpose.

What’s the biggest challenge?

Learning to switch off and finding the right balance as a mother of two young boys.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A celebration where all women stand united against bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. We stand together to work towards a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive without question. It’s a chance to honour women, to shine a light on their contributions and celebrate their success and the many important roles that women play.

What advice do you have for women looking to take on leadership roles within a traditionally male-dominated industry?

Knowledge is power, play to your strengths and remember your voice. Care about being respected, not about being liked, and learn how to effectively handle conflict.

Penny Bower: Head of Legal

What’s your role at Waste Management?

Head of Legal. It means I’m responsible for the legal affairs of the entire company. The way I like to describe it is that lawyers are like engineers – but the CRC and duct tape kind. My team and I look at all the risks and opportunities that Waste Management has, and then we smooth the way with legal CRC or stop the wheels falling off with a bit of legal duct tape.

What do you love about the job?

There is a bunch of interesting people doing interesting things that they really care about. When people think about waste, they don’t necessarily think of our electric fleet engineers, the people who monitor the landfill gas or service the generators that convert it to electricity, or our sustainability team who look for ways to do everything in a more sustainable way and educate as they go. Waste Management has a lot of great stories to tell.

What’s the biggest challenge?

It can be a real juggle with competing priorities at work and home. My job is busy and my family life is too. It requires constant prioritisation and management.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a great opportunity to take a look around and recognise how awesome women are. I’m surrounded by them.

What advice do you have for women looking to take on leadership roles within a traditionally male-dominated industry?

Authenticity is crucial. Ask lots of questions and ask for help if you need it. Be curious.

Jo Stoddart: Infrastructure Manager

What’s your role at Waste Management?

I am currently the Infrastructure Manager at WM, so I look after the ICT Support Desk and Infrastructure Team.

What do you love about the job?

It’s a cliche but there is a lot of variety in the role, so not two days are the same, plus you get to work with exciting new technologies.

What’s the biggest challenge?

One of the biggest challenges is meeting business expectations, especially at the moment with all the supply chain issues due to Covid.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I guess for me it's about recognising how far we've come towards gender equality and remembering those before us that fought for the things we take for granted every day!

What advice do you have for women looking to take on leadership roles within a traditionally male-dominated industry?

Don’t be afraid to speak up, especially if you are not sure of something. As it doesn’t matter how stupid you may think the question is you are asking, there will be someone else thinking the same as you. Finally, just be yourself!

Danielle Fairburn: Hamilton Regional Manager

What do you love about the job?

My amazing team, I am grateful for being able to work alongside a strong team of likeminded people, in an environment that challenges me. Also, the diversity of the role – building a supportive culture, empowering my team to do their jobs, overseeing all our services so they are carried out efficiently and safely, making sure our customers are happy and troubleshooting when necessary.

What’s the biggest challenge?

The consistent changes that occur in our business and juggling work commitments with family. Building a strong team culture helps working in this ever-changing environment manageable.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It is an opportunity to appreciate and support women in whatever roles they have in life and build the capability of our younger generation to follow. It is also a chance to take a moment for those who have passed before us who have been leaders in our communities and industry, by laying down the foundations of what we have today.

What advice do you have for women looking to take on leadership roles within a traditionally male-dominated industry?

Embrace the challenge, the first step is often the most difficult part of the journey. When the Regional Manager role came up, I discussed it with my family. My 10-year-old son said, “we will support you all the way, you have this mum.” It gave me the extra confidence I needed to take that step.

Working in a male-dominated industry has its challenges, however having a good support network helps you to achieve your goals and help is never far away. I have been fortunate to work alongside some great leaders who have mentored me during my transition into a leadership role. In short “invest and believe in yourself” and take that first step.