Alanna Ball Founder Women in Safety and Senior Consultant Brisbane City Council is a firm believer in gender equality, collaboration and mentoring. Growing up in industrial Gladstone, Alanna’s parents taught her the importance of hard work and integrity. As a young girl, her dream was to ‘make a difference’, but she wasn’t really sure what that would mean.
Moving from regional Queensland to London at age 20 she worked in Human Resources with the Financial Services Authority and was recognised for her contributions to whole of business, large scale projects.
Alanna transitioned her career focus from Human Resources to Health and Safety in 2011. Soon after, while working in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, Alanna came to the realisation she had found herself in a man’s game and knew something had to shift. In 2014 she officially founded Women in Safety with the aim of creating a network of like minded, supportive safety professionals to learn, listen and grow with. Alanna was named a Finalist in the 2016 National Safety Council of Australia’s Safety Awards and continues to grow her #womeninsafety brand. She was recently appointed as a Board Intern with YWCA Queensland.
What life events shaped your advocacy for gender equality?
I would have to say seeing my mother as a working mum for as long as I can remember. She always made me so proud how she juggled work, her after work commitments and my brother and I. We were always a handful, but she always had time for us. I also had a very supportive Dad who always made sure Mum, my brother and I had what we needed to succeed.
More recently, I think being the only female on a site, in the middle of the Papua New Guinea jungle can make you reflect pretty quickly! I didn’t want to be treated differently just for being female. I was a professional who was there to do my job and believed I deserved respect to do my role.
Did you foresee that women in safety would grow so quickly?
When I founded Women in Safety, I envisaged a couple of peers sitting around at a coffee shop talking about what we were doing in safety – not 1000 members strong! I always go back to the concept of ‘tribe’ and I really was looking for my own tribe of supporters at the time. It turns out so were 1000 other professionals. We all look for somewhere to fit in and I am just thrilled that they are able to feel safe to have open conversations with the group!
You recently became board intern at YWCA Queensland. Tell us about the organisation.
YWCA is a great organisation doing fantastic things and if you have not had a chance to look at them, please go check them out! YWCA Qld have a vision to empower women and girls to ‘find their possible’. They believe the best way to empower women of the future is by focusing on three cornerstones of empowerment: Safety and Wellbeing, Economic Participation and Women’s Leadership.
Being on the Board of such a forward thinking and empowering organisation continues to grow my own passion and determination to help women who may not have had the same support networks that I have had through my personal and professional life. They work hard for gender equality, they work hard for gender bias to be gone and really empower young girls, even at a school age, to find their own way and succeed.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Not letting ‘the little things’ get to me. My nearest and dearest know that I wear all my emotions outward (something my mentor Penelope Twemlow and I are working on). At times I let the little things and the things that don’t matter get to me. It can be difficult sometimes to continue driving the passion and enthusiasm when there is still so much gender bias and many stereotypes out there. Having worked for organisations that have entrenched boys’ clubs really challenges the way I work, and my passion to achieve gender equality, yet also cements why I believe in making a difference!
What are you most proud of?
That I did it, little old me from Gladstone! It hasn’t been a rock star idea (like telephones or light bulbs), but it is a small piece of a much larger puzzle that I hope is helping others achieve their goals. I never imagined it would have opened the doors its opened to meet some other amazing women and amazing male advocates. I feel so lucky and excited for our future!
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
Don’t question it. We have so many others in life that will doubt us or our ability that we CANNOT doubt ourselves. Yes it is daunting but find your ‘tribe’ and get the support to take the next step in your journey, your career and your life.
Women in Safety enables female safety professionals to feel connected, supported and empowered to succeed in their careers. We stand by our belief that no one should feel isolated during challenging times and successes should be celebrated. Our collaborative approach provides a safe environment for our members to share information and experiences to help us grow personally and professionally. We achieve this by providing a platform for our members to connect, engage and be inspired by other professionals, role models, mentors, and thought leaders in the industry.