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August 13 - 19, 2010
The Independent Weekly people & places
Rugby, beer, and old stories -- it
sounds like a recipe for a sports-
man s night.
Instead, this was the fare served up
by Westfield executive Sue O Malley,
guest speaker at this week s Women in
Management seminar hosted by the
Australian Institute of Management.
Born and bred in Adelaide, Sue rose
through the ranks of Westfield after
starting in marketing at the group s
Marion Shopping Centre.
Based in Sydney since 1994, Sue
is now Westfield s general manager
Facilities and Operations and is
currently working on a state-of-the-art
rebuild of Pitt Street Mall in Sydney,
due to be opened later this year.
For the 350 women (and several
men) gathered at Adelaide Convention
Centre Wednesday morning, it was a
chance to hear Sue s first-hand advice
on making it through the corporate
Those expecting a dissertation on
equality, harassment and work/life
balance were to be surprised, as Sue
outlined the old fashioned values
of hard work, vision, planning and
confidence in your own abilities.
Titled "A jar of mayonnaise and two
glasses of wine" it revolved around the
story of a university professor and his
demonstration of how you fill the jar
The story has been used for decades
in management training, but its les-
sons are timeless -- here s how it goes;
A professor stood before his philoso-
phy class and had some items in front
of him. When the class began, word-
lessly, he picked up a very large and
empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded
to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar
was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box
of pebbles and poured them into the jar.
He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles
rolled into the open areas between the
golf balls. He then asked the students
again if the jar was full. They agreed
The professor next picked up a box
of sand and poured it into the jar. Of
course, the sand filled up everything
He asked once more if the jar was
full. The students responded with a
The professor then produced two
glasses of wine from under the table
and poured the entire contents into
the jar, effectively filling the empty
space between the sand. The students
"Now," said the professor, as the
laughter subsided, "I want you to recog-
nize that this jar represents your life.
The golf balls are the important things;
your family, your children, your health,
your friends, and your favourite
passions; things that if everything else
was lost and only they remained, your
life would still be full.
"The pebbles are the other things
that matter like your job, your house,
and your car. The sand is everything
else; the small stuff.
"If you put the sand into the jar
first," he continued, "there is no room
for the pebbles or the golf balls.
"The same goes for life. If you spend
all your time and energy on the small
stuff, you will never have room for the
things that are important to you.
"Pay attention to the things that are
critical to your happiness. Play
with your children. Take time
to get medical checkups. Take
your partner out to dinner. Play
another 18. There will always be
time to clean the house and fix
the disposal. Take care of the golf
balls first; the things that really
matter. Setyour priorities. The
rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her
hand and inquired what the wine
The professor smiled. "I m glad
you asked. It just goes to show you
that no matter how full your life
may seem, there s always room
for a couple of glasses of wine
with a friend."
The tale has clearly inspired
Sue O Malley, who told the audi-
ence that "sweating on the small
stuff" was the biggest hurdle to a
She was also inspired by the
feature film Invictus, which
chronicles the shared journey
of Nelson Mandela and Francois
Pienaar, South Africa s Rugby
captain, and their nation s
victory in the 1995 World Cup.
Sue also showed the award-
winning Carlton Draught beer
commercial which features the
FlashDance scene of a heavy,
blokey applicant for a brewery
job showing his passion for
And then there were the
images from Apollo 13 and the
exhortation that "Failure is not
O Malley s skill in inspiring
her audience was to make it
relevant to everyone regardless
of age or gender.
The only reference to the issue
of "women in management"
came when she warned that
mirroring male behaviour only
served to isolate a woman.
"Let them go and play golf and
do their things," she said.
"But be wary of trying to
mirror their language and their
interests, because all it does is to
minimise your own individual
skills and talents.
"Back yourself, build your
own networks, choose your own
"Find a colleague who will be a
good sounding board and learn to
create your own legacy."
Ms O Malley s underlying
message was that you could take
credit for your successes and
accept blame for your shortcom-
ings. At the end of the day, it was
up to you.
Speaking after the breakfast,
John Stokes, host and CEO
of Australian Institute of
Management s Adelaide opera-
tion, said that over 11 years the
Women in Management series of
seminars had evolved.
"We do six of these each year
and have had more than 80 differ-
ent speakers, and it s interesting
to see how the dynamic has
changed," Mr Stokes said.
"In the beginning it was
all about creating a women s
network, but now it has evolved
into a business network that just
happens to be predominantly
"The emphasis is not so much
on breaking glass ceilings, but
developing careers in a wide
variety of areas."
The audience was inspired,
not so much by rugby, beer and
old stories, but the reality of Sue
O Malley s success.
Sue O'Malley, senior execu-
tive at Westfield's Sydney
headquar ters came back
to Adelaide for a Women in
Photo by Kate Elmes
The mainly female
audience take in Sue's
Photo by Kate Elmes
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