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Diversity & Inclusion with Sinead Gogan

How do you identify yourself?

I’m an Irish, cis, white female. I’m also a working parent to two boys and a caregiver, along with my siblings, to my Dad who lives near us. 

What does inclusion mean to you?

Inclusion to me is putting yourself in the shoes of others and being open to understanding their lens and their lived experience of the world.   

What challenges did you experience, if any, in your career and how did you overcome them? 

I think everyone experiences challenges and that’s entirely normal. I tend to approach my working life from the perspective of gratitude. I’ve been fortunate to benefit from a great education and many opportunities at the time I joined the labour market. Generally, I’ve tried to be more motivated by the opportunity of moving forward and taking chances when they are presented than by the fear of standing still. 

"Inclusion to me is putting yourself in the shoes of others and being open to understanding their lens and their lived experience of the world."

What could others learn from your journey? 

One of the most impactful experiences both personally and professionally for me was a year spent on international assignment living in Dalian, North-eastern China in 2014. In this location and doing that role, I was hugely out of my comfort zone! Culturally I learned to see commonalities rather than difference and came away with heightened problem-solving skills from being in a complex and ambiguous environment. Generally, I would advise anyone to take the opportunity to spend time working and/or travelling abroad. When you move away, you learn about who you are, your upbringing - you learn because you are away from it and that distance and difference bring creativity. 

How is Deloitte helping you build your career?

In so many ways! Mainly through exposure to new and interesting work. The Deloitte learning culture and philosophy of never stop growing particularly appeals to me and I learn every day from the opportunity to work with really smart, thoughtful people. 

Do you have any mentors and if so, what is their value to you?

I’ve had many personal and professional mentors over my life and career. My mother would have been a very strong influence in my early life. From a work perspective, it’s sponsors rather than mentors that have had the most impact. As a HR professional, this has generally been business leaders I have supported who have been able to speak to my work and impact and to advocate for me when I’ve not been in the room. 

What is the most valuable thing you have learned since you joined Deloitte?

I would say two things. Firstly, the process is more important than the outcome. Secondly, when you ask someone at Deloitte for help, they will never say no. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to a young female starting off their career?

Don’t let your early career decisions and path be influenced by the life and working hours you think you might need in the future for work/life integration. In time, you will find solutions to those constraints and having a role and work you are passionate about is much more important over the timeline of a career. Also for women who wish to have children, (and I appreciate not all will), the life partner you choose, and their attitudes and support will have a big influence on your career trajectory. Find a spouse that has a flexible, unconventional attitude to gender roles and work with each other on your combined goals for family and career. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone relocating their life and career to Ireland? 

It can be difficult to get to know people in Ireland. Superficially everyone is very friendly, but we won’t often invite you home for dinner! I think this can be because so many established friendships and networks relate to their childhood or family. Joining clubs and groups in your local community is a great way to meet people when you’ve just moved here and to break into established networks. Community notice boards in your suburb or town, or local social media groups are a good way to seek these out. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give a new parent/ caregiver trying to juggle their new life and career? 

Firstly, and most importantly, if you are in a position to co-parent, you have to learn to get good at it.  Not everything has to be done on your schedule or to your exact preferred timing. Giving up that control is an important first step.

Myself and my husband have tried probably every combination of childcare types, or one of us at home over the last 13-years, since our eldest son arrived. Over that time different things have worked for the various stages, and I would also say don’t be afraid to adjust and change and constantly re-evaluate knowing at various times one or other of you may need to step forward, or step back.   

What do you see is the role of an ally/ what do you value most?

For someone in my role leading a HR team, the role of an ally is to look to design systems and structures that can work to interrupt and overcome the biases that are inevitable in all workplaces. 

Please describe inclusion in 5 words.

1.     Belonging
2.     Advocacy
3.     Understanding
4.     Empathy
5.     Openness

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