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Louise M Empowerment series with host Louise Matson and guest Amanda Cox. Episode #16

Posted on June 02 2022

Louise M shoes Empowerment podcast with Founder Louise Matson and guest Amanda Cox

Women Empowering Women 

Louise Matson, Founder of Louise M shoes, a Made In Italy brand for airline cabin crew and corporate women, speaks with women about their empowerment journey from childhood to adulthood. Louise is intrigued as to where business women have found their confidence and self belief to become empowered and successful in life and business.  

We hope you enjoy this episode. 

“It's about strength. It's about confidence. And ultimately, it's about owning your space and feeling trusted.” - Amanda Cox

I am very excited to have Amanda Cox on the Louise M Empowerment series. Amanda is a fellow of both chartered accountants, Australia New Zealand, and the government's Institute of Australia. She's an experienced sports executive with more than 20 years of finance people and culture strategy, risk management and governance experience. Amanda is currently employed as a Chief Financial and People Officer at Racing and Wagering Western Australia, and was previously an executive at the West Coast Eagles football club. Amanda is a non-executive director with Edge Employment Solutions, WA Institute of Sport, the RPH Medical Research Foundation and numerous community committees. Previous roles include Chair and Regional Council for the WA Chartered Accountants, Regional Council, and a member of the Curtin Business School accounting advisory board. Welcome Amanda. That is very impressive.

Amanda Cox:

Thanks Louise, it is great to be with you today.

Louise Matson:

As I said to you recently I had 17 years flying around in a metal tube <laugh> and now I think gee, I could have been doing so much more with all these resumes that I've been reading out for this series.

Amanda Cox:

Grass always looks greener, you know, I'm impressed by what you've done as well.

Louise Matson:

Thanks so much. And it was a hell of a lot of fun flying around. <laugh>

Amanda Cox:

 

Louise Matson:

I recently met you, we co-presented at the RAC Women's Leaders Group and you immediately caught my attention, especially knowing I'm doing this series and wanted you on. I think the thing that really stood out for me initially was at 25 you were employed by the West Coast Eagles football club. You sort of couldn't really I mean, you sort of kicked yourself, you actually got that, that position. You thought, how did I do that? But you were like I'm just going in there and thinking yes, I can do this. Just incredible. What I want to do first is actually go back to your childhood and find out whether that sense of 'I can do' started when you were a chld, or was it at 25 at that moment when you got that job. Firstly, what's your definition of Empowerment.

Amanda Cox:

I think for me it's about, strength, it's about confidence and ultimately it's about owning your space and feeling trusted. So for me that's really a feeling that you get, but I think it also presents in quite a physical way where, you know, you almost stand taller and you speak up and you sort of have a presence. And I think the emotional side and the belief, self belief needs to absolutely come first.

Louise Matson:

Yeah, I totally agree. Um, just even like, putting on my shoes, for instance, Louise M, you just stand taller and you speak better. So I totally agree that it's a physical and an emotional, working in tandem there. So let's go back to your childhood. I think I recently saw you at Anzac day your dad was a Vietnam vet. So let's talk about your family a bit and who's in your family. Give us a sense of, you know, did empowerment start in your childhood? Was it influences there in the family or outside the family?

Amanda Cox:

If I go way back, my Nanna arrived in Australia in her twenties on a boat on her own from Italy. So big change, cultural impact and I think we were always very close. So that's my mum's mum, always very close to her growing up, spent a lot of our school holidays there. And I think, you know, I probably didn't feel it at the time, but in hindsight, it's something you look back on and you kind of go, wow, what a strong woman to have done that on her own and then to almost raise my mum as a single mother you know, and pushing through some really challenging times in what was back then a very male dominated environment where women weren't meant to have their own jobs and their own money and buy their own houses.

Amanda Cox:

And she did all of that. And I think you know, they're the early lessons that you learn from, from someone and you don't know you're learning them at the time, but it's kind of in hindsight, you go, wow, that sense of owning your own destiny sort of came from early roots. So yeah, mum and dad, my dad is a Vietnam veteran, so he, went to war at 19 and thankfully came back and my mum and him got married and then three girls came along. So I'm the middle child, two other sisters. And grew up as a really close, close family without sort of any, you know, extended family. So really having to look after ourselves and grandparents and so forth.

Louise Matson:

You were saying that just your grandma, you didn't really think about it at the time that she did, you know, come out on her own and do that. But I guess you just got that sense that's kind of normal. You kind of do those things as well, you know, she did it.

Amanda Cox:

Yeah. And I think, you know, having strong female role models in your life, and for me, that was my Nanna and my mum who both really hard working, mum runs her own business, they've really challenged the norm, but for me it was, it just seemed like that was, you know, a normal upbringing. You had your own, you know, regular teenage challenges as you do. You don't always think your parents are doing the right thing for you, but in hindsight you always look back and go, wow, what great lessons that I had early in life from these key people.

Louise Matson:

And do you remember there being any words, like positive words? I mean, you were watching, but were there actually words that worked in unison with that that really sort of reinforced the lessons.

Amanda Cox:

Look nothing I can recall specifically, but you know, my mum probably at the time, I thought was quite a strict parent but I think it was all about, and my Nanna said the same. In fact, the words that ring true for me from my Nanna was use your brain, not your braun. And so for her, I think she never had the benefit of a great education. And so she, she did a lot of manual type jobs as you know, working as a cleaner at a meals on wheels place and selling vegetables and, you know, walking into town to sell, sell the food from their farm that they had. And so for her, she was always like, you know, use your brains, be smart, study hard. And so I think it was kind of that reinforcement of you are capable of a lot more if you put your mind to it. And so what I probably thought growing up was quite a strict parenting style was more about focus and set your foundations early. This will set you up for life. And you know, mum always talked about saying what you mean, meaning what you say. So there was always kind of those recurrent things that came up and I think really laid the foundations for who I am and how I sort of approached working life.

Louise Matson:

There's certainly strong values there. So what about schooling? Did that reinforce what you're experiencing at home?

Amanda Cox:

Yeah, I think based on hearing that I was quite studious at school, I didn't have a great sense of what I was going to do when I grew up. And that was always something that I felt challenged by because I had friends who based on personal experience knew that they wanted to be a nurse or they had a real career destination. And for me, I think I watched my parents both running their own small businesses. I was interested in how those things worked. So I was kind of learning lessons just through the home environment. And yeah, so I was really studious. I probably put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve because I felt that sense of well that's going to be my thing in life, working hard and trying to achieve what I can and being grateful for the opportunity that my parents and my grandparents never got. So I think all those lessons sort of culminated in that feeling of choosing my own destiny and through school, that was, I guess, the studies and trying to achieve the marks.

Louise Matson:

And did they encourage conversation or was it all one way?

Amanda Cox:

No, they absolutely would. I think, you know now is they're guiding you in a certain path to hold true to your values and, you know, teenagers have their own style, all the time. And I think it's really challenging for parents to try and navigate that, but throughout it was all about two-way conversation and listening to what you had to say, you know, ultimately they were still the parents. So they're going to make some calls that you're not always going to agree with, but really it's always with your best interest in mind. And you can look back at this point in life and go, how lucky was I that I had that had the opportunities, but also had that strong direction to help me arrive at and achieve.

Louise Matson:

That's fantastic. I do want to make a point that this series is not about blame the parents, <laugh>, That's very clear for everybody that I interview. But it does set you up in a direction for your adulthood. Were there any outside influences as a child that you could see?

Amanda Cox:

Yeah, look, I think growing up naturally it's, you know, school teachers, sports coaches, and even for me I started working part-time roles quite young. So, I was 13 when I got my first job at Myer and then I worked at Adventure World and kind of had lots of different jobs. I think I always had two or three jobs on the go, which I loved because it was so social and you're kind of building your networks outside of your school group. So the managers that you worked with there, they all had an influence on who you are today. So, that was empowering you through giving you more responsibility or, you know, you can run the place today or you're in charge, you know, all those sorts of things where you kind of, you demonstrated the right behaviors and beliefs and you were kind of rewarded through being given more responsibility and feeling like you could own that.

Louise Matson:

Yeah. I love the fact that you've had such a strong childhood base and sense of empowerment. As an adult how has that continued? Because you had such a strong sense as a child, have you felt the need to really develop that further as an adult or has it just come sort of naturally? Have you gone into mentors and coaches and, um, listening to lots of podcasts, you know, Joe Dispenza and Louise Hay and Amy Cuddy.

Amanda Cox:

Absolutely. Yes.

Louise Matson:

What have you done that's helped you?

Amanda Cox:

Look power posing, I'm a big fan of that Amy Cuddy. I think it's something you do have to work on. Like for me, I think I suffer from imposter syndrome, like a lot of women and men do, so I think it's reminding yourself that you are capable and you've gotta back yourself in. There's always gonna be moments where you're not feeling your best or you're feeling challenged by something. And the easy thing is to retreat, not speak up but you've gotta kind of overcome that through anything from positive self talk, power posing, sometimes it's just stepping away from that environment and having a bit of a reset. So for me getting out in nature or spending time with my nieces and nephews, something that kind of reconnects you and makes you feel that self worth again is really important because there will always be things that we're challenged by or people that'll try and, I guess cut you down or don't value your input. So it's, it's always having those tools and learning more about how you kind of evolve into that space through podcasts and books and learning different things.

Louise Matson:

I think I've spent so much time on that. Again, I'm wasting more time <laugh> but look, you having been in such a male dominated industry with the football in particular and for such a long length of time, were there females that have helped you through that or did you really enjoy being amongst the men all the time and it really wasn't an issue for you?

Amanda Cox:

I can't say I enjoyed it as such, but I knew I didn't, it was almost, I didn't recognise that that was an issue. Like I, wasn't gonna let that be a challenge for me. I recognized that I was in that environment and for me, I guess in a, in a male dominated sport where, um, at the time in AFL, there was no professional pathway for women. I mean, I played a handful of games at high school, but there was really not a great path beyond that so coming into an administrative capacity in the sporting environment, naturally people say, oh well you never played the game so what do you know about this sport? And it's like, well, I know my technical expertise that I've been brought in here to share with you. I'm strong in that space. So that was kind of me owning that and building my sense of confidence and respect and rapport with the team, through my technical ability.

Amanda Cox:

It's hard work, you've got to work on it. Being a young female and not having played the sport, in an environment where 90% of the executives had played at some level had a really good knowledge of sport, kind of had the networks in that space, really quite challenging. And there weren't a lot of females to I guess look to. I was the only female CFO in the whole AFL industry for a period of time and I remember when the second one was appointed at Geelong football club it was a little bit of a celebration of like, we're finally cracking this nut and now, you know, there's a really great balance across all the clubs. There were some females in my early days at KPMG and it was more a case of knowing what I didn't want to be.

Amanda Cox:

So that's equally as important, you know, sort of having those role models, but also having those people that you look up to and go that's not my path. For me seeing the nature of the way they needed to work and challenge them that wasn't for me. So I knew at that point it was time for me to move on and look for something else. I wasn't going to go down the path of being a partner in an accounting firm. I knew that at that point, so for me it was finding the different path that might suit my skill.

Louise Matson:

And when they gave you the job, because I think the story is that you went along to the interview at West Coast, just thinking you weren't going to get it. Do you really believe that they chose you for obviously your expertise, but was there another agenda to that or you were quite confident that that's what it was?

Amanda Cox:

No I'm pretty confident. I heard later that <laugh> from someone that ended up being a direct report of mine. They really wanted a man in the job and I kept coming through as the stronger candidate. So it was almost like despite the fact I was a woman, I got the job. I like to think that that's because my ability shone through, but also they could see that I could work in an environment that was male dominated and that wasn't going to be an issue for me.

Louise Matson:

Yeah. Fantastic. I just love your whole sense of knowing who you are and your capabilities. I just really love that strength in you.

Amanda Cox:

Well, it's interesting because, like I said, I do suffer from imposter syndrome and I remember, I remember telling a few colleagues at KPMG that I was applying for the role at the Eagles. And, you know, it's a funny story, cuz back then there was no seek. So the role was advertised in the newspaper. I wasn't actively looking at the time, but my sister had returned from overseas, she was literally flicking through the West Australian and because back then all the job ads were kind of in the same area. She was looking for herself, but stumbled across this ad in the paper and kind of said to me, oh you've got to go for this. And you know as many women do I looked through the list of what they were looking for and I was like, oh, I don't tick all those boxes, so I'm not going to do it.

Amanda Cox:

But she was really the one that encouraged me and said go for it and I think that's why I had that attitude of, well, what have I got to lose because I don't think I'm going to get it anyway, but let's call this good experience. But yeah, a lot of the men that I worked with at KPMG kind of laughed at me and said, you're not going to get it, as if they would give a woman that job, as if they'd give someone as young as you that job. So it was really hard to overcome that self doubt. So I think the self-talk of don't worry if you don't get it, it's not the end of the world, you know, it's not going to crush your soul, it's just a learning experience. And I think that probably helped me relax and be a little more authentic through that process.

Louise Matson:

So how do you best help others with their empowerment journey? Are you a mentor to others there at work where you are or around town?

Amanda Cox:

Yeah. Look through various roles that I've had, I've mentored a number of people and I think really it's about not giving them the answers, but challenging them to think differently. Really reflect on their own values and self worth and find what it is that they want and just go for it, like set those goals and for me that, I've talked a few through the power posing, so you know, a little bit fake it till you make it. So act in a way that makes you feel stronger and it'll shine through and also the big thing for me is be your true self because if you're applying for a job, for example, and you're not being your true self, it may not be the role for you because they're expecting something different and the environment will be different. So put your best self forward. And if it's the right fit for both sides that's the right direction for you, and that's something that I've kind of lived by is that the right things come to you at the right time according to what you need,

Louise Matson:

Love it. Amanda, if you are having a not so great confidence day <laugh> how do you overcome that? I mean, you did mention your nieces and nephews, that's an outlet for you, for me it's my granddaughter. Nothing makes me laugh and enjoy life more than seeing her. What else do you do, nature with another one?

Amanda Cox:

Yeah. Nature. So I get out and do some hiking. I think it depends on the circumstance. Often you have those days where you can't avoid being in the office or having to go to a important meeting. So for me, the way of coping with that is just to take a bit of time out, sit in a quiet space, kind of gather your thoughts. For me, knowledge is power. So if I'm really prepared for something going in, despite how I'm feeling, it comes with a sense of kind of confidence and empowerment. If you can though avoid a situation where you're feeling that way, we've got options now to work from home. So, you know, I'm going to take the day at home and just contemplate things and work quietly and avoid those kind of triggering situations, reconnect in nature, speak to family and friends, speak to people that know you really well.

Amanda Cox:

And can, I guess give you the positive talk that you're not giving yourself, reminding you of how special you are or what value you bring to a situation. I think they're really important. A lot of the colleagues I've worked with who I remain really well connected to, we talk a lot about that to each other, reminding each other of, remember when you did this, how important that was or how the strength you brought out, or the gravitas you brought into the room when you were speaking. So it's having all those kind of reminders of your value and your worth.

Louise Matson:

It's interesting, isn't it because we don't remember those things so easily ourselves. So that's a really great point, thank you so much. So Amanda, what's your shoe relationship, relationship with shoes.

Amanda Cox:

Relationship?

Amanda Cox:

I have to tell you I have terrible feet, I pronate really badly. And so I wear through shoes like nobody's business, but I love shoes and I was only telling someone the other day I went to the US, it was probably 10 years ago now, I was doing some study over there, so was over there for a period of time and you know, did a lot of shopping and I ended up coming back with about 20 pairs of shoes and I was like, oh God, I think I've got a problem. I love shoes, all different shoes. It's harder obviously with the way the, the higher heels these days cuz you know most of us are working from home and in flats most of the time. So, but I do love to get out a great pair issuof shoes and , I think it does change the way you feel when you've got a great pair of shoes on and you can kind of stand tall and feel really confident.

Louise Matson:

Yeah. It's it's like clothing as well. Isn't it?

Amanda Cox:

It is.

Louise Matson:

You put on a new dress. So Amanda, thank you so much for sharing your story today. Again, it's just different from everyone else I've interviewed in the series and I just love hearing it and I love your sense of that strong sense of who you are and the values that you have. I didn't get into your dad's Vietnam vet, so you had a really great day with him that day being able to march again.

Amanda Cox:

So yeah that was really cool. I think my dad and my mum actually have been involved in the association really since I was born, since he came back and they took really a leading role in helping other veterans who've come back who you know, struggled with life, back in civilization sort of thing. So they ran the welfare service for a long time, which had, you know, it was a phone at home where people could call in and just have a chat if they were going through anything and could be referred to different services. So I think that's the other part of who I am is that giving back. So I'm involved in so much charity work and I think that the, the foundation of that was set really early. And so yeah, growing up, went to every Anzac day, every year, every Vietnam veteran's day remembrance day, it's really was always a special day for our family to kind of reflect and celebrate the people that I guess gave us our freedom in Australia.

Amanda Cox:

And I think the last three years have been quite challenging with COVID. It was great to see the driveway dawn service kind of take off a few years back. And this year, obviously in Perth, a little compromised with trying to protect the health of the elderly veterans. It was really lovely to get back this year and be able to march with my dad and a really great turnout from the public. Unfortunately some of our family had COVID that week, so couldn't join us, but yeah, we're hoping next year. My niece who's turning three, she hasn't had an Anzac day yet, so we can't wait to sort of take her along and have her part of it.

Louise Matson:

Fantastic. And build her sense of empowerment and confidence as well.

Amanda Cox:

Absolutely.

Louise Matson:

Amanda, thank you so much for your time today, I absolutely love speaking with you and I really look to seeing again soon.

Amanda Cox:

Absolutely. Thanks Louise.

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