12 Jul 2021

Karina Phillips: “He said I was a wallflower and I just thought: well I’m going to change that!”

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Karina Phillips is the Senior Risk & Security Manager at Westfield Kotara. Having been with our business for 20 years in a largely male dominated team, Karina talks to us about the positive changes she’s seen and how she’s focused on building her personal brand to help steer her career journey.

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I first started working at Westfield Kotara as a contract Security Officer in 2001 before I had the opportunity to join the company as the Security Supervisor in 2008. In 2010, I was promoted to Security Manager and subsequently became the Risk & Security Manager in 2012.   

I’ve always been passionate about climbing the career ladder in Risk and Security, and I’ve taken every opportunity to develop myself, my knowledge and skills to progress in this career pathway. Over the 20 years, I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of my Centre Managers to do just that here at Westfield Kotara and I’ve completed a number of external courses and been involved in national projects and secondments at other Living Centres that have allowed me to build my career.

Several years ago, one of the previous National Risk and Security Managers gave me some really constructive feedback about my personal brand. He told me I was known as a consistent performer, I knew my role well, though I was known to him as a wallflower.

I just thought: well I’m going to change that! 

That was the turning point for me. I made it my focus by putting my hand up to take part in conference presentations, projects, and lending a hand at other centres in order to build my personal brand and it really helped my career journey. 

This year in February, I was promoted to Senior Risk and Security Manager which was a real highlight of my career with Scentre Group.

Looking back over my time with the business, it’s very different now to how it was when I started. 

While there’s still a majority of men in the Risk & Security team, many years ago I felt it was difficult to get where you wanted to go because of that. But with the changes over the years such as diversity and inclusion, now it doesn’t matter what your gender, sexuality, or family situation is, the current National Risk and Security team are very supportive. 

Similarly, I have felt very supported and accepted by the many colleagues I have worked with over the years. As a proud member of the LGBTI+ community I have always felt comfortable to bring my whole self to work. 

That’s now amplified through the diversity and inclusion program and LGBTI+ working group. When the business first created the LGBTI+ working group, I’d never heard of anything like it before, but I really enjoyed being a part of the working group in those early days and it’s been wonderful to see the work they’ve achieved with the recognition of AWEI’s Gold Employer status recently. 

Now I’m focusing on my new role looking after the Northern NSW Living Centres. 

As part of that I provide support and mentoring across the centres to drive consistency, embed new procedures or process improvements. It’s great to be part of a business that encourages change and challenges us to always look at how we can improve and do things better. It keeps it exciting. 

When someone asks me what I like most about working for Scentre Group, I would say it’s the opportunities that I’ve been given over the years. And it’s not only me, I’ve seen a lot of people make lattice career moves, and I know people who are in very different roles now from where they started in our business and it’s great to see their success.

So now I’m looking forward to the opportunities, big and small, that I’m sure will continue to be a part of my new senior role and challenging myself to continue to develop my skills and support my wider team.
 

We embed a culture of diversity and inclusion to empower our people to feel comfortable and safe to bring their whole selves to work. We know achieving that is essential if Scentre Group is to be the place for talent to thrive.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Council includes seven employee-led working groups: Gender Equity, LGBTI+, Domestic and Family Violence, Mental Health and Wellbeing, All Abilities, Reconciliation Action Plan and Multicultural Capability. Each working group aims to raise awareness and understanding through education on their unique topic.

This year we were honoured to be named as a Gold Employer in the AWEI 2021 Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards – building on our silver tier recognition last year. 

Our goal is to keep building inclusive capability, so it is just the way we work at Scentre Group.

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