In Her Words: Lisa Riley

Lisa Riley is one of our fabulous Queensland  Members. Find out a little about what  makes her tick.

Where were you born and where did you spend your childhood?

I was born in small town New Zealand, a place called Paraparaumu Beach which lies on the West Coast of the North Island, about an hour north of Wellington.  My childhood was spent either barefoot on the beach, or in gumboots on the farm, and as the middle child between two brothers  I learned very early on in life that if you don’t keep up, you will get left behind.

Where did your professional dream begin?

For most of my career I have worked for large corporate companies, and local government organisations, but it was in the late nineties that I decided to learn to scuba dive and it was this experience that completely changed my life.  I loved diving and the environment  so much  that I went on to train to become a scuba diving instructor, and a little bit further down the track I ended up ended up running  a Nationally Accredited Tertiary Diver Training Facility in Wellington.

Where does your passion come from?

In my experience People learn to dive for all sorts of reasons, and what I have discovered is that when you take people out of their everyday situations and separate them from friends, family and everything they find comfortable – and you place them in a totally alien environment where strength, knowledge and gender is irrelevant, the level of engagement that people experience when there is no unconscious bias involved is simply quite astounding.  Within hours of meeting, strangers are literally placing their lives and their safety in each other’s hands.  I love how diving is such an incredible leveller of people because when we delve beneath the oceans surface, we are all extra-terrestrials temporarily visiting the underwater world for the first time.  It is these shared experiences, these new feelings and changed perceptions that bring us together as everyday normal people.  As an instructor you engage on many different levels, one to one with individual students, one to many as the leader of the group, and many to one as the observer of each individual’s achievements.

What have you learnt about yourself during your career?

What I have learnt about myself in the 20 years following my diving career is that I have developed an extremely adaptive personality that thrives in a changing environment throughout  my professional and personal life.  When I began this conversation I was working in a job I had loved for more than 5 years with an international global company dominant in their market place.  As I finish writing this I am now unemployed by way of redundancy and whilst not completely unexpected, it has offed me the opportunity to reflect back on what I have loved, learned and experienced and while I can’t say I has all been peaches and cream, I can choose to take just the good experiences, memories and learnings with me, it doesn’t’ mean I forget the mistakes, the failures and false starts, I just learn from them, don’t dwell on them and keep moving forward.

  1. Do what makes you happy and gives you joy.  Live for the moments you can’t put into words or capture in a photograph.  Small moments can energise and invigorate, they can give you motivation, focus and make you smile.  It is these small moments, the muscle memory of your heart and mind that help you through hard days and tough times.
  2. Work hard in all aspects of your life. Nothing comes easy and in order to appreciate your achievements and celebrate your successes you have to experience hardship along the way. We have to build resilience in ourselves and engineer it in others because failure and disappointment is a fact of life, and dealing with it head on and overcoming it is when it gets hard, but that’s when the magic happens.
  3. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first. You owe it to yourself to be the best version of yourself that you can be – I’m not saying put yourself first 100% of the time, but you do need to prioritise time that you benefit from, whether it be exercise, reading, walking, meditation you need to spend time in your own head recharging, relaxing, thinking and just meandering through your mind – it’s a pretty awesome place when you get to understand it!

What keeps you going?

My lust for life. More than 10 years ago I was fortunate enough to survive a life threatening illness and since then I take the attitude that life is absolutely for the living.  I believe we are all responsible for our happiness, success and accomplishments but because life is not all unicorns and rainbows – we are also responsible for how we deal with sadness, failure and loss.  At my lowest ebb I discovered strength of resilience and a mental fortitude I never knew existed, let alone lived inside of me!  Living is a choice, and I choose every day to get up because want to not because I have to – it’s amazing what that little approach and state of mind can achieve!

How important is it for women to have mentors/their own circle of excellence to guide them?

I believe it is incredibly important for women to seek out mentors and guidance from female business leaders across all sectors and industries.  The challenges, anxieties and stresses we face every day are not unique, they are being experienced by women across the country and the globe. Having the opportunity to talk about these concerns and seeking support and counsel from women who have themselves paved a way forward is invaluable.  The generosity, honesty and positivity shared by these women is truly inspiring.

What is next in the journey of BRAND YOU?

Well, the world is currently my oyster for sure!  The last thing I expected was be 45 and out of work, but the opportunity this situation has afforded me is not going to be wasted.  I know I am thirsty for new challenges and having an operational and business management background I know I can adapt to any new environment.  I am excited to see where I venture next!

Your Favourite Things:

Destination:  Wreck diving anywhere in South Pacific

Drink: Champagne “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars” Dom Perignon

App: Sonos “Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words.  It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones” Keith Richards

If you were a hashtag what would it be: #JFDI

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