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Written By

Rachelle McCabe


College of Business, Law and Governance

Publish Date

7 March 2024

Related Study Areas

The importance of investing in inclusion

The achievements of women everywhere are something to be celebrated each and every day. International Women’s Day, which falls on 8 March this year, provides a timely reminder of the significance of ensuring effective and equal space for women within every workplace and forum. Australian Public Servant and JCU Business Alumni Tori Lamb reflects on how inclusion has influenced her career, and what this day means to her.

“Count her in: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress” is this year’s International Women’s Day theme and it’s a concept that strongly resonates with Tori.

Tori is herself a high achieving woman. Based in Canberra, she works for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and is the Assistant Secretary for Strategy and Modernisation in the Australian Passport Office (APO). She leads a team of 50 staff across Australia and overseas.

“I have a large and diverse portfolio, which includes passport policy and legislation, communicating with customers, leading change management activities for the APO and leading the APO’s Program Delivery Office,” Tori says.

She’s also passionate about female inclusion and education. For Tori, the contribution of women is essential to achieving a prosperous Australia.

“This year’s International Women’s Day theme about inspiring inclusion is relevant, I think, to all women,” she says. “I suspect every woman has felt, at some point, that she doesn’t belong. It can be difficult to look around you and see no one that reflects you.

“But it’s actually really important for you to be there in those scenarios, because if you’re not there, you and your particular group are not represented.”

A close-up of Tori Lamb.
Tori Lamb sits with a female co-worker in her office.
Left: Tori Lamb with Parliament House in the background. Right: Tori collaborating with a co-worker. (Supplied by Tori Lamb.)

Empowering women for the benefit of all

Tori draws strong inspiration from former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her quote, “women belong in all the places where decisions are being made”, which reflects her work as a staunch women's rights activist,  has always resonated with Tori.

“Sometimes the door is open, other times we have to kick it open, but we deserve and need to be there,” Tori says.

Tori has seen first-hand the heights to which women can soar when set up to thrive in a supportive working environment.
“I have seen women succeed to the highest levels of the public service and deliver outstanding results for our community,” she says.

“I have observed and experienced great support from men in senior leadership roles who invest their time in supporting women around them because they appreciate the significance of having a room that reflects the diversity of our country. And I have been fortunate to work with some particularly impressive leaders who have guided and pushed me when I needed it.”

But Tori acknowledges there is still work to be done to level the playing field. “I think there are unconscious and conscious biases in society, which can be revealed in different ways, and it’s important to call those out for what they are,” she says.

“I’m fortunate to work in an industry that values women and I have had some amazing leaders – men and women – who have supported me to grow, fail and learn. I’d really encourage people to be curious about what you don’t know and be brave enough to declare it.

“I recognise that I work in a particular industry, in a part of the country that doesn’t necessarily reflect the full, rich tapestry of Australia. My experience will not reflect that of others, and I appreciate that.”

A view of Canberra, including Lake Burley Griffin, Parliament House and the National Library of Australia

Education: an investment in yourself and society

Ensuring women and girls are given equal opportunity to build their capabilities and develop their capacity to learn, earn and lead is a key focus for International Women’s Day.

Tori, whose completion of a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at JCU in 2009 assisted her career progression within the public service, says she is a big supporter of boosting women’s education.

“Education will empower you to move in new directions. It will expose you to things you might not encounter otherwise, and it will enrich your life and career in ways you might not have thought possible,” she says.

“You have a right to an education and you deserve it. Invest in yourself – your education is an investment in the future of our country and our world.”

Tori's MBA studies provided her with new perspectives that she would carry with her into her varied roles and experiences. “I often look back with gratitude for that opportunity. I loved the smaller class groups, which allowed for close connection with students and staff,” she says.

“The perspectives of a diverse range of students helped me to think about things differently. It really was a turning point for me to make intentional decisions about my professional development.”

Tori Lamb and a colleague sit in the Civil Aviation Conference.
Tori Lamb participates in a Welcome to Country ceremony.
Left: Tori and a colleague representing Australia at the International Civil Aviation Organisation Public Key Directory board meeting in Curacao in the Caribbean. Right: Tori participating in the Welcome to Country during an international event that she hosted. (Supplied by Tori Lamb.)

More than a career with the Australian Public Service

From her first job manning the phones in the Centrelink call centre through to leading a team of 50 within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tori has embraced the opportunities and career progression offered at the Australian Public Service (APS).

Tori, who lives in Canberra with her family, says she loves working for the Australian Government, with the opportunities for professional development and career progression abundant in this sector.

“Through hard work, the good fortune of having supportive leaders and a willingness to take on different tasks and jobs, I’ve forged a path from beginning in a call centre to senior leadership,” she says.

“The Australian Public Service was always my path. I knew I wanted to make a contribution to my community, and the APS is one way to achieve that. However. it appealed to me for a few reasons, not the least of which is job security and career advancement.”

Here’s to Tori and all the amazing women who do their bit to “Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress” within their careers and lives, for the benefit of all women and society.

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