How Conversations Can Shift the Future

Prudence Hickey, Group Commercial Executive for our Resources team is a bright, beaming voice of reason. In negotiating contracts, she understands the value of having diverse and inclusive conversations.

 “My first job…I was ten, my brother and I had a paper route,” says Pru. “We lived in the ‘burbs and the route was enormous, so we’d load up the car and Mum used to meet us at various points along the way to restock. One day, she started to drive off and accidentally ran over my foot. That was the end of my first job and the beginning of a keen interest in a desk job.”


After graduating from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Pru’s first job was working as a recruitment consultant.


“I spent months cold calling businesses. It’s character building,” she chuckles. “I’d just finished my undergraduate studies, so everything I heard was new. Listening and learning about various businesses enabled me to better understand their needs and requirements, and most importantly, ask the question why? Successful conversations started from there.


“This part of my life taught me a lot about diversity and inclusion. It gave me the opportunity to work with different people and learn how to benefit from their cognitive diversity.”


Navigating Negotiations

Following a career defining role at Lion Nathan where she implemented their upgraded accounting systems, an opportunity at WSP to work closely with our market-facing teams and be more connected to clients was the big drawcard for Pru.


“I needed to build my networks quickly, so I signed up for Lunchtime Legends and the corporate triathlon where female participation wasn’t high at that point in time. I wasn’t expecting the triathlon to become a passion which led me to sign up for an Ironman or that a lunchtime basketball contact would be key to a commercial opportunity.”


After four years, Pru took on a commercial role within the Resources team, working with the business and supporting its revenue stream through contract negotiations and P&L management.


“I can still remember my very first contract negotiation. I was nervous on the phone!” she confesses. “But it all went smoothly. Contract negotiations are about conversations between reasonable people; making rational decisions. Nothing I do to a spreadsheet or contract is going to change unless I have that critical conversation.”


Investing in Diverse Networks

“Within the industry, especially amongst our senior people, there’s a challenge for us all to create a more diversified, professional network to collaborate with and help shape a stronger, more gender-balanced future,” says Pru. “By doing so, we’ll be able to shift away from traditional referrals where someone says ‘I know a guy.’ We should be able to say, “I know someone, or I know a few people you can talk to.


“It will take time to establish those relationships and grow those new networks, but it all begins with a conversation. The moment we begin actively inviting fresh faces and new contacts into our inner circles of influence, our spaces and our networks, we will begin to see a butterfly effect.


“Shifting the makeup of the industry by focusing on increased equal opportunities for women and men will build more collaborative teams for our clients to partner with, as they too share our focus on achieving increased gender balance in the workforce.”


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