This week we’re delighted to feature the very talented and one of my oldest friends, Deborah Thomas, who has risen to great heights in the corporate world, from starting out like me on the Australian modelling circuit. Publishing, politics, reality tv, broadcasting, motherhood and currently CEO of Ardent Leisure Group, I had to wonder if there was anything Deborah hadn’t done, to which she wittily replied, “Had a good night’s sleep!”
Deborah and I have known each other for many years, but in prepping for our interview, I was fascinated to learn that she spent her childhood in the early 60s growing up in colonial Pakistan, due to her father’s work. Having spent my own formative years in Port Moresby, I asked Deborah how living the Raj-lifestyle behind a gated community surrounded by servants, helped shaped her and I know you’ll enjoy listening to her response and insights.
Over the course of this week, Deborah shared on many topics including advice for mature-age job seekers, dealing with Alpha Males in the workplace (having dealt with the ultimate one herself – Kerry Packer), her controversial appointment as CEO of Ardent Leisure Group and concludes with today’s clip which features the best advice her mother ever gave her.
Deborah’s mother taught her daughters that in order to be truly free and independent they had to have their own finances, earning their own money which would enable them to do what they wanted in their lives. She instilled in them the importance of having careers that they loved, of having a good education and of working hard, and most importantly that being a woman should not be a hindrance to achieving those things.
It’s difficult to believe that until Australian legislation changed in the early 1960s, women working in the public service and many private companies were forced to resign from their jobs when they got married, the implication being that their husbands would now be financially responsible for them. Deborah believes that her mother’s desire to be financially independent and to instil that value in her daughters comes from living in those times.
I asked Deborah if she believed women had come a long way since then, “I think there is equality, and there isn’t. The reason I say that is, in my new job I do tend to occupy a very male world of investment bankers and investors and it’s been quite an eye-opener at how few women there are in those positions at the top”.
One thing for certain, Deborah is a woman who took on board her mum’s advice and has forged her own very successful path in life, becoming an inspiration to us all.
Deborah Thomas is one of Australia’s most successful, most respected and most experienced magazine editors. She was at the helm of The Australian Women’s Weekly, the iconic magazine that boasts the highest readership in Australian publishing and, per capita, in the world, for almost a decade before moving to a corporate role within ACP Magazines (the magazine arm of the Nine entertainment Company NEC), now Bauer Media. A regular on radio and television, Deborah is an entertaining and informative media commentator and a sought-after speaker on many topics, including marketing to women, balancing work and family, and, of course, the Australian publishing and advertising industry. In 2015, after 27 years at Bauer, Deborah resigned from her position as editorial and media director to begin her new role as CEO of Ardent Leisure.