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Q&A with Louise Tagliante

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Louise Tagliante, Managing Director / Protégé - MentoringWomen

How would you describe your career path in a few words?

When I was younger I never gave much thought to what I’d do when “I grew up”.  I wasn’t academic, I disliked the way we were taught at school, I was restless and wanted to get out into the wider world and experience all there was in life.  When everyone else was at university, I hitchhiked around the world for 3 years on my own - through Africa, Middle East, Europe and had the time of my life.  I loved the freedom, the independence and experiencing different cultures and different ways of living, thinking and being.  

When I was 29 I was hired by Visa Worldwide in their Sydney office, looking after Australia and New Zealand.  Although I didn’t know much about payment systems, I knew I’d get to travel and see more of the world through a completely different lens.  As it turned out I loved working there, discovered I had a great head for business and was able to build excellent working relationships with clients and my team.  After some years I was promoted to the Visa office in Singapore, the first woman to be moved into a regional role.  I was tasked with setting up the Visa Business School in all countries in Asia Pacific.  I had the time of my life - doing what I loved work wise and was able to continue traveling to amazing places around the region. The perfect job and career for me.

What was your most challenging experience and has it changed your mindset?

I’m sure this will resonate with many people - being retrenched and losing your job is truly devastating.  I was working in Asia on a full expatriate package and as soon as the job went, so did my apartment, my car, travel perks and of course my huge salary.  I was literally thrown over a cliff without a financial safety net and I was traumatised by the entire event.  SARS had just hit Asia and no one was hiring foreigners even though I was a Permanent Resident.  After applying for numerous roles and being rejected, or worse, being totally ignored, I lost a lot of confidence. I needed to totally rethink working in the corporate world and finally decided I’d have to reinvent myself to survive long term.  I wanted to have control over my future and the only way I could see forward was to set up my own business - something I’d never considered previously and had no experience in.

As it turned out I went into business with the wrong people and lost a lot of money however the very positive upside was I learned a huge amount about running a business and eventually, when I branched out on my own, I became very successful.  The chance to fulfil my leadership purpose and support others to find theirs, inspires and energises me every day.  As they say, one door closes and another opens.  Looking back, it was the best thing that ever happened to me

Based on your experience, what's the key success factor for a female leader/manager?

I know this will be very different for every woman who’s ever wanted to lead or be successful in her own right.  We all follow very different paths and have very different ideas of what success looks likes.

At an early age my dad taught me to follow my own heart and path and to ignore others who tried to impose their will on me.  He said to listen to what people have to say, but in the end you have to do what makes you happy.  So from the get go, I knew I wasn’t here to make other people happy which is often a huge challenge for many of the women I’ve worked with.  In Bronnie Ware’s book ’The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying', the No. 1 regret is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”  On all of the MentoringWomen programs we run, we inspire women to live the life they are truly here to live.  As my dad said, you only get one life so make the most of every opportunity and choose happiness.  How do we find the courage to effectively manage the expectations of those around us - family, friends, spouse, culture, society and sometimes even the company we work for, and to live our best life. It’s not always easy however you have the power of choice - it’s all yours!

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