Words of wisdom: The best career advice we’ve ever received

May 20, 2024

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A little advice from a trusted mentor can really pack a punch, particularly for those just starting or changing their career.

So we asked five successful WIN committee members to tell us the best piece of career advice they’ve ever received – and how it’s influenced their professional journey.

What they had to share makes for an inspiring and motivational read.


Stephanie Petrevski: ‘Be authentic’

‘The best career advice I’ve ever received is to always be authentic,’ says Stephanie Petrevski, National Manager of Asset Services at Charter Hall.

‘A male mentor said that to me when I started at Charter Hall 8 years ago – and it was a bit of a lightbulb moment.

‘When I first started out in industrial, I found it hard to fit in. I was the only woman in meetings and often found myself in the middle of conversations I couldn’t relate to, usually about golf or footy!

‘This mentor helped me realise we all bring individual interests and skill sets to the table, and I shouldn’t feel pressured to be one of the boys. Diversity of thinking is key. That’s why it’s so important to get more women into this sector!

‘Now, I’m confident in the value I bring to the team and have been able to build strong, genuine relationships with my colleagues and external stakeholders discussing topics we all enjoy.

‘I’ve paid that advice forward many times. I do a lot of work with students on behalf of WIN, and I always encourage them to follow their passions and be proud of who they are.’


Sass Jalili ‘Differentiate yourself’

‘I was once told it’s a good idea to find a niche for yourself,’ says Sass Jalili, Head of Industrial & Logistics Research Australia at CBRE. ‘I’ve found that to be true.

‘When you finish uni, you don’t really know how many different jobs are out there. So, it’s worth researching a range of industries early on and diversifying your educational background.

‘To use my experience as an example: I did a bachelor’s degree in economics. But when I graduated, I realised there must be thousands of economics students across the country all applying for the same jobs, so I decided to complete a master’s in something more specific.

‘I eventually settled on supply chain logistics – a field I hadn’t heard of before. It was a bit of a risk, but it served me well because it equipped me with a specialised skillset that set me apart from my peers.

‘If you’re just starting out, my advice is to explore lesser-known industries and find a niche that interests you. Educate yourself on how that field operates by reading industry reports and investigating the big companies in that field.

‘Then, connect with relevant people from those companies on LinkedIn. See if they’d be willing to hop on a call so you can learn more about the industry and what you need to do to break into it.

‘If you get that far, make sure you’re prepared. You want to demonstrate that you’re informed and proactive.

‘You never know – if you make a good impression, they might think of you when a role comes up in their team.’

Camilla Bradley: ‘Stay curious’

‘Some advice that’s stayed with me over the years is never stop learning,’ says Camilla Bradley, Executive Funds Management & Capital at LOGOS Group.

‘We’re told to study hard at university, but what about after? Staying curious throughout your career allows you to adapt and develop your thoughts and ideas.

‘Not all learning has to be structured. You can upskill in many ways, and the pathway doesn’t need to be linear. For instance, my curiosity about Global Capital Markets led me to work overseas in London. Here, I gained practical experience and built long-lasting professional relationships.

‘I also think it’s important to listen. Most successful people I’ve known do more listening than talking.

‘I sit on the WIN schools and universities subcommittee and encourage students to be proactive about learning and get as much experience as possible.’

Maria Russo-Fama: ‘Be courageous’

‘My mother always told me to be courageous,’ says Maria Russo-Fama, Director of Client Services for Australia & New Zealand at Cushman & Wakefield.

‘When I started out in construction, it was a tough time to be a woman in the industry.

‘There wasn’t a huge volume of work around and the men already working in the field were very territorial. But my upbringing gave me the courage to try, fail, learn and grow.

‘I persevered and worked hard to learn the technical skills I needed. In the end, that paid off – I did a good job and earned the respect of my peers.

‘When it was time to make the move to corporate, I carried that philosophy forward. I was scared to make the transition, but I knew it was the best move for me and my family, so I made it work.

‘That’s the best advice I could give to anyone facing a career challenge.

‘Be brave and just go for it!’

Mandy Spek: ‘Don’t be afraid to fail’

‘My first boss taught me that it’s okay to fail, which was such an important lesson,’ says Mandy Spek, Asset Manager at ESR Australia.

‘I’ve always been a perfectionist. But I think that’s normal for most people starting out in their career – because you want to make a good impression.

‘When I started in property, I delivered a project presentation to a fund manager who found a discrepancy in my financial calculations. He talked me through where I’d gone wrong and asked me to do it again.

‘I felt really bad about it. But he assured me that we learn far more from our mistakes than our successes. Ultimately, it was worth making that mistake early on so I could learn what not to do moving forward.

‘From that moment on, I internalised that message. I’ve learnt that failing is an important part of success because it allows you to develop a more holistic skillset.

‘Everyone’s scared of making mistakes, but that’s where growth comes from.’

Want more career insights? Follow WIN on LinkedIn to hear from women thriving in the industrial sector.

  • 151 Property
  • CBRE
  • Charter Hall
  • Frasers Property Industrial
  • Goodman
  • The GPT Group
  • TMX
  • Vaughan Constructions
  • Realterm
  • ESR
  • Cushman Wakefield
  • Frank Knight