Published 8 March 2024 

In 2024, the International Women’s Day campaign #InspireInclusion reminds us that when we inspire others to understand and value women and gender diverse people, we forge a better world.   

International Women’s Day speaks to all of us differently. The day serves as a reminder that bias, stereotypes, and discrimination hinder the achievement of women and gender diverse people’s equality. Further to this, not everyone experiences gender inequality the same way. Gender inequality exists alongside other forms of disadvantage or discrimination that can increase inequality and hardship. These include characteristics such as Aboriginality, age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion, sexual characteristics, sexual orientation, and other attributes.    

When women and gender diverse people themselves are inspired to be included, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.  

Inspiring inclusion in the workplace goes beyond hosting an annual morning tea in the name of IWD. It must be demonstrated in our thoughts, words, and actions at an individual level, and translated into the decisions we make as an organisation. 

At Engage Squared, we’re committed to listening to and learning from the diverse voices in our workplace, so we can strive to #InspireInclusion every day. When women speak about their experiences, we create a space for others to be heard too. That’s why we’ve spoken to just a few people who shared their thoughts on their careers, their roles and how organisations can strive to #InspireInclusion.

Liz Mayo-Smith

Liz is the Project Management Office (PMO) Practice Lead and sits on the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) in New Zealand.   

I’m a proud Auckland native, born to an American mum and British dad. I’m one of six kids, and as well as having a brother and sister who are twins, I’m also a triplet with two boys! I’m a sports junkie and love playing 7-a-side soccer twice a week, and others in the NZ office might often describe me as competitive… When I’m not on the field, you can find me getting my DIY on. My flat is decked out with all sorts of homemade furniture, upcycled pieces, and art.

Who is your career role model, and why?  

This one is close to home and is my mum. She has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and was an incredible role model growing up. She managed to juggle raising six kids and owning and running her own business. The more I’ve learnt about her life pre-kids has also grown my admiration. She’s had many different careers and businesses in her life, and she always backs herself and her skills. She isn’t afraid to pivot and change tact and is always on the lookout for innovative ideas and strategy. Seeing her self-confidence and go-getter attitude has shaped me into the woman I am today and gives me the conviction to do the same in my life.

What message do you have for young women in the early stages of their tech careers?

Try everything! There are so many different roles and skills that sometimes we’re not even aware of. It’s just as helpful to try something that isn’t right for you as it is to find something that fits. With every experience and role, you develop new skills and get a better understanding of yourself and what’s right for you. And don’t be afraid to pivot!

How do you think organisations and decision makers can #InspireInclusion in the workplace?  

Organisations intentions and attitudes are so influenced by decision makers and the model that they set for the team. By keeping inclusion in mind throughout policy setting, team meetings, and strategic goals, it can help set the tone for a more inclusive environment and trickle down into the day-to-day behaviours of our team. Also, by first recognising where we’re at in the journey of inclusion and then being intentional about the steps to improve it, this can help move the dial in meaningful ways.

Michelle Goodwin

Michelle is an experienced senior M365 Consultant in Victoria, and a driving force in the Information Management team.   

I have a background in drama (yes, who would have thought!). I started off as a PA managing an unmanageable boss, and I ended up in IT as I wanted to learn more. I am one of those weirdos with a passion for SharePoint and my role at Engage Squared enables me to embrace that!

Who is your career role model, and why?  

I have never really thought about that question before – my gut reaction was who impresses me, not only career wise, but in general. So I’d say Richard Branson. He has taken risks, which is something I admire, that “jump right in and think later” attitude, plus he is fun and spontaneous however he seems incredibly focused too.

What message do you have for young women in the early stages of their tech careers?  

Never be afraid to ask! Whether for help, advice, or information. Nothing is a stupid question. I got into IT thanks to my first Australian boss who was the Director of IT at Mobil, because I asked to learn about what the IT department did. He put me on the help desk (yes, I know!) to listen and learn, then I ended up in projects. He got me into ‘IT’ because I asked the question.

How do you think organisations and decision makers can #InspireInclusion in the workplace?  

Treating everyone the same regardless, that is what I think inspires inclusion, not just focusing on the differences.

Daria Utianskaia

Daria is an Associate Power Platform Developer based in the Bali office. Like many other others, Daria’s career didn’t begin in IT – yet her transferable skills brought her to us at Engage Squared.  

I have a degree in civil engineering, and before I started my IT career I was working as a civil engineer in bridge construction and in nuclear plant construction in Hungary.

After the war started, I left Russia. I quickly realised that I couldn’t continue my civil engineering work remotely, so I started to learn development during my emigration, and now I am a part of the Engage Squared team!

Who is your career role model, and why?  

I’m inspired by Arienne Mandi, Johnny Depp, Haruki Murakami, Alexei Navalny, Irina Gorbacheva and Marina Tsvetaeva.

What message do you have for young women in the early stages of their tech careers?  

It’s okay to feel lost! Feel it! No one has any script on how to live their life. If you feel you want something, just move forward and go for it! It won’t always be easy, and it won’t always be fair – but don’t give up!

How do you think organisations and decision makers can #InspireInclusion in the workplace?  

Be transparent! Organisations should have talent acquisition, promotion and renumeration policies that are equal based on skill – not gender.

Rachel Harnott  

Rachel is a mum of two teenage boys and is based in the Northwest of Sydney, she joined Engage Squared in 2016 and has recently become the Head of Strategy.   

When I finished high school, I went straight into working as a receptionist as I genuinely thought I’d make my living as a professional singer. I began working at a computer company in 1999 in admin and was given the opportunity to learn HTML and develop parts of the intranet…. and enjoyed. It was creative, but predictable and when people used it, their work life was a little easier. After a few years at the firm, I moved into the intranet support role, where a wonderful mentor taught me front end dev and I later went on to study user experience design and change management. I left that law firm (13 years later and grateful for the opportunities it gave me) and I moved into consulting.

I joined Engage Squared in 2016 as a Senior Consulting and immediately got stuck into leading intranet projects for the likes of Mirvac, CIMIC Group and more. I took on the Practice Lead role for the Digital Workplace and Employee Experience team in 2020. In that role, I enjoyed growing the practice, as Engage Squared also grew. I was designing delivery methodologies, sales offers, guiding complex implementations and most importantly mentoring an amazing bunch of consultants both technically and in consulting craft.

In 2023, I moved into an executive role as Head of Strategy. I now coach our Practice Leads on practice strategy, delivery methodology creation, and sales enablement. It’s an interesting transition into the exec team, almost like a peek behind the curtains! What I love most about consulting, practice leading and now strategic mentoring is the problem solving. I’m action and results oriented, and I get a kick when I see something I designed or directed works out.

Who is your career role model, and why?  

I don’t have a single role model but have come across a few individuals in my time that impressed and inspired me.

The first is my first real boss. As a young teenager, he found himself homeless, but was so determined that he worked as a garbage man during high school and when his school career ended, he worked as a bricklayer. By the time I met him (some years later, I won’t say how many, he’d probably not like that), he was the General Manager at a small organisation and went on to work in professional consulting. His determination and ability to keep going when faced with challenge always impressed me. He is also a wonderful person who 25 years later I am still proud to call a friend.

The second is one of my closest girlfriends. She is about the same age as me and has recently moved into the director role of an important organisation. Once a theatre kid (she too had stars in her eyes as I did), this lady has successfully led several organisations with smarts and compassion. A lot of her experience was gained on the job (although she has studied hard throughout her career). My friend inspires me because of her attitude. She is passionate, knowledgeable (and what she doesn’t know, she seeks out the details), curious, kind, trusting, and fun. Although there is always a challenge ahead of her, she somehow finds a way to be positive. I often look to her as an example of what a good leader looks like.

Finally, my mentor while I worked at the law firm. He was a beloved people manager and he taught me to remember that while business is business, our team are people and to never lose sight of the fact that most people come to work wanting to do a good job and end the day happy. He felt strongly that when managing people, it was important to get to know them so that you can help to inspire, guide and support them. Wise words, that I refer to often.

What message do you have for young women in the early stages of their tech careers?  

I would give them two pieces of advice:

Firstly, find yourself a few different mentors and actually ask them to play that role.

  • Someone that has experience in the role you want to be doing and can teach you the technical or craft ins and outs. Often this will be your manager, but if it’s not, seek out someone who can fulfil this role.
  • Someone that you don’t work with. This is important as their advice will be 100% impartial and really be focused on giving you advice about you. This person should have experience, don’t rely on your buddies for this – you want someone seasoned who you can look up to and trust.
  • A senior leader at your current place of employment. (this can sometimes be the same person as number 1). Build this professional relationship as this person will advocate for you in ways that you or your manager might not be able to.

Secondly, not give in to imposter syndrome. Once you get to a point in your career where you are in your groove, you are actually as good as everyone says you are! You are capable. talented, innovative, clever and you know things!

If you fall victim to Imposter Syndrome (as so many people do, and not just women), seek out the tangible evidence to support all the nice things people say about you, and then seek out the tangible evidence to support the voice inside you saying you don’t know what you are doing and have just been lucky to get where you are. I suspect that most of the time, there will be no evidence to support that negative talk, and lots of evidence to support all the good stuff…. go with the good stuff!

How do you think organisations and decision makers can #InspireInclusion in the workplace?  

Lead by example: actively seek out the thoughts of others and demonstrate through action that you heard what they said and understand their point of view. Also, I think being vulnerable can help you to find alignment and empathy with most people. Leaders are only human after all.

Be open about feedback: being self-aware is super important, but so is being open to receiving feedback where perhaps they hadn’t been as inclusive as they could have been. Then of course it’s incorporating that feedback into your leadership to be more inclusive going forward.

Acknowledge your own bias: whether it’s conscious or sub-conscious bias, we all have a bias in one way or another. Leaders should try to challenge their own bias.

Ayako Uruno


Ayako is a Senior Consultant and Digital Workplace & Change Management Lead based in our Tokyo office. She loves skateboarding and is always encouraging Engage Squared staff to visit Tokyo! 

I am responsible for client facing digital and culture transformation support for clients in the Japanese market and driving the growth of Engage Squared Japan, including recruitment and team expansion.

In addition, I am also in charge of marketing for Engage Squared Japan, and my mission is to increase awareness and sales of Engage Squared Japan in the Japanese market.

Who is your career role model, and why?  

I work in multiple areas, so I have different role models in each area, but all of the women at Engage Squared are very powerful and I respect them. I feel like it is hard to find role models in the same career as me, so I want to strive to be a role model for Engage Squared Japan myself. I am fighting against myself!

What message do you have for young women in the early stages of their tech careers?  

The technology industry in Japan is dominated by men – but Japanese customers are changing, and in addition to technology skills, they are looking for <people> friendly technology, such as hospitality and enthusiasm for change. So, I think we provide a good environment for young women at Engage Squared in Japan.

How do you think organisations and decision makers can #InspireInclusion in the workplace?  

Engage Squared Japan wants to work with many talented people regardless of gender, nationality, or age. Today, it can be difficult in Japan to see a bright future both economically and demographically, but Engage Squared Japan wants to create a bright future for Japan! To achieve this, we would like to realise “inclusion,” in which employees treat each other and customers with respect, treat each other equally, and work in solidarity.

We hope you enjoyed this insight into the wonderful women we have across Engage Squared and it’s provided helpful tips into how your workplace be more inclusive. We’re always on the hunt for wonderful people to join our team, so take a look at our careers page and get in touch if we sound like your type of people.