Members On Their Way

Members On Their Way: Fiona Glaskin

Meet the scientist and former political staffer who is working hard to get more women to the top - while sharing her love for books.

By Natalie Cornish

Members On Their Way

Meet the scientist and former political staffer who is working hard to get more women to the top - while sharing her love for books.

By Natalie Cornish

Sydney-sider Fiona Glaskin planned to move to Canberra for three years to study, but 20 years later she’s still living and working in the capital. A trained scientist, she joined the British Foreign Office as their Science Advisor, before becoming Chief of Staff to Joe Hockey and Senior Adviser on Public Policy to Malcolm Turnbull. Now, Fiona now works as Operations Lead for the Corporate Services group at KPMG, and runs her book subscription service Bibliophiles. Here, she talks running with her rescue dog, escaping to the snow to stay sane, and the importance of raising her son to respect women.

I joined Future Women because I love women supporting women, working together to create a better future for everyone. Attending the Future Women Leadership Summit demonstrated the depth and breadth of amazing women in Australia; women with diverse backgrounds who have followed their passion.

In my day-to-day job, I’m refreshing our women’s leadership programme. It’s aimed at providing meaningful careers, with leadership opportunities for women in finance and technology.

I’m also constantly looking for new and overlooked authors to share with Bibliophiles’ customers, along with great kids books that will inspire them to keep reading even when they are being pulled in by technology. And, I’m preparing to launch a new business with my husband that aims to share our love of all things snow.

I am passionate about providing a better future for women – through the women’s leadership programme I run, by bringing women together to discuss their own experiences and challenges under the guise of a book club, and by raising my son to truly believe and behave in a way that treats women and girls as equals and includes them in all aspects of life.

The biggest perk of owning my own book subscription business is access to books, but it’s also the hardest part as there are so many I want to read! I generally read a book a week. Right now I’m reading Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh.

I listen to Yoy-Yo Ma play Bach’s Six Cello Suites when I need to focus. My mother raised me on Carole King and Fleetwood Mac, so they are constant companions – and I’m teaching my eight-year-old son to love 80’s music!

I also listen to a lot of podcasts when I run. Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, The High Low and Dolly Parton’s America are current favourites.

Growing up, my mum always said, ‘You will always know’. This was applicable to everything – from a ladder in your stockings that you know you’d be conscious about all day, to cheating on an exam or telling a lie. I still use this as a conscience test: can I do or say something and be comfortable living with it even if no one else ever finds out?

I have been fortunate to meet a lot of highly visible, highly successful women in my career. But for me, the most remarkable women are those who are pursuing their passions and aren’t afraid to be honest about what they have done – how hard they have worked, the sacrifices they have made – to be successful. There is no ‘overnight success’ or ‘luck’. Successful women work hard, take risks, make sacrifices and deal with more criticism than men. These are the remarkable women.

Business-wise, I’d love to learn to network. I’m not great at it. I always feel uncomfortable pushing into a conversation and talking to strangers. Personally, I’m not very good at switching off so I’ve been taking yoga classes to help. And having just attended the Yo-Yo Ma concert, I want to learn the cello!

My driving force is my son. Everything I do is about making the world a more equitable place for his generation – particularly for girls.

Outside of work I love to travel and spend time outdoors with my husband and son, particularly in the snow. And then read by the fire with a glass of wine.

The future for women is improving but not fast enough. It’s not enough to raise girls to believe they can do and be anything they want, we need to raise our boys to believe women are equal too.

We can lift each other up when we share our stories, share the stories of others and talk about all the amazing women we know.

I’m most fulfilled when I am in the mountains. Spending the day skiing with my husband and son followed by watching snow fall outside at night while I read by a fire. It’s when I’m most relaxed, when normal life is a million miles away and the madness of work and school disappears for a while and we can all just breathe and be together.

Self-care means spending time alone. I’m an introvert, and need to be alone reading a book or taking my dog for a run in order to properly recharge. Thankfully my husband and son are the same, so we often spend time alone even when we are all in the house together.