Singtel group CEO Chua Sock Koong: ” The larger the company, the less likely the head will be a woman.” Photo: Nicolas WalkerWhen she first started in business, Singtel’s chief executive Chua Sock Koong used to get mistaken for the secretary.
“When I was younger, I remember stepping into many meetings, particularly in Asia, where people would immediately assume I was the secretary standing by to serve the tea,” said Ms Chua, who today is group chief executive of global telecommunications giant Singtel.
“But you learn to laugh these things off.”
As head of Singapore’s largest listed company – Singtel has 600 million subscribers across 25 countries, a market capitalisation of over $64 billion and 23,000 employees – she’s often asked how she’s managed to make it this far as a woman, but that “as most women in business will tell you, you get used to this line of questioning.”
Ms Chua told her story at the Chief Executive Women’s annual ball in Sydney on Wednesday night before some of the nation’s top chief executives including Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, ANZ boss Shayne Elliott and Broadspectrum chair Diane Smith-Gander.
Ms Chua joined Singtel – what was then Telecommunications Authority of Singapore – in 1989 as its treasurer and worked her way up the chain. Today she’s accredited for driving the company’s digital transformation including the group’s move to take a stake in Optus in 2001.
Singtel Optus is the second-largest telco in Australia after Telstra, and is fiercely competing to take over the number one spot.
Ms Chua said at 18 she had no burning ambition to be a CEO but she learned that the best way to overcome gender stereotypes was to deliver. She also said that in her life she had to make hard choices about how much time she devoted to work and family. “No one can tell you what’s best for you or your family – whether you should ‘lean in’ or ‘lean away’… you have to decide what work/life balance you want to strike.”
She was disappointed that globally there were not more women in leadership or CEO positions. “The reality is that while the number of women in senior and middle management around the world has increased over the last two decades, women are still under-represented in top management,” she said.
Only 5 per cent or less of the CEOs of the world’s largest corporations were women. “And the larger the company, the less likely the head will be a woman. The telecoms industry is no exception,” she said.
Ms Chua wants Singtel to be a “gender-neutral employer” where equal opportunities are given to women and men.
“We conduct periodic health checks to ensure healthy gender diversity ratios,” she said. “But we know it is still a work in progess.”
She noted 31 per cent of the company’s top management was female compared to the Singaporean average of 25 per cent, and one-third of its board was female compared to 9.5 per cent representation on boards in Singapore generally.
Ms Chua said that the Singtel group does better than its Australian subsidiary Optus when it comes to diversity. “In Optus, the figure [of women in top management] is lower at 16 per cent… We know more work needs to be done at Optus to improve representation of female leaders, and we have said as much in our annual sustainability report.”
She said Singtel had set up diversity committees to combat gender bias and “educate leaders on inclusive leadership” and was also running mentoring programs.
The reporter was a guest of Sydney Airport at the Chief Executive Women annual ball.
Two 12-year-old boys have been charged with the aggravated sexual assault of a female student at a primary school on Sydney’s northern beaches.
The six-year-old girl reported the incidents herself, Fairfax Media has been told.
It is understood she was raped on two separate days at school in mid-August.
Both boys were allegedly present during both incidents but only one of the boys raped her in the second incident, police allege.
The primary school immediately notified the Department of Education, which immediately notified the NSW Police’s Child Abuse Squad.
After a two-week investigation, the two boys were arrested at Chatswood police station on Tuesday.
One boy has been charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of sexual intercourse with a child under 10.
The second boy was charged with two counts of aggravated sexual assault and sexual intercourse with a child under 10.
Both have been granted bail and will appear in a children’s court over the next two months.
“Parents and carers of students at the school are in the process of being notified, and police request the community respect the privacy of the young people involved,” police said in a statement on Thursday.
It is understood a letter has been sent to parents.
“NSW Police Force works closely with the Dept of Education and Family and Community Services to ensure the safety of all students, and additional support has been made available at the school,” the police statement said.
“The Child Abuse Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate crimes against children, including sexual assault, physical abuse and serious cases of neglect.”
THRILLER: Maitland novelist Barry Maitland with his new book, Slaughter Park, which will be released next month. Picture: Jonathan CarrollHarry Belltree’s quest for justice will take some final twists next month, when Maitland novelist Barry Maitland releases Slaughter Park –the much anticipated thirdinstalment of The Belltree Trilogy.
It follows the story of Sydney homicide detective Harry Belltree, whose wife and father–the state’s first Aboriginal Supreme Court Judge –are run off the road at Thunderbolt’s Way, between Gloucester and Armidale, with devastating consequences.
Despite police and the coroner dismissing the crash as an accident, Harry is determined to prove his family was targeted and expose those responsible.
Mr Maitland, a celebrated crime author who was born in Scotland and raised in London, setthe trilogyin Sydney, the Hunter and regional NSW.
He said he used published sources, including articles from Fairfax Media investigative journalist Kate McClymont, to delve into Australia’s underbellyand had extensive help from detectives in Newcastle and Sydney who spoke to him about their work.
“It’s been kind of like a romp through the underworld of NSW,” he said.
“All the corrupt politicians, property developers, bikie gangs –all the usual suspects.”
Next, he plans to write another installment of the popularBrock and Kolla series. Then he hopes to bring his characters back to an Australian setting.
“I’ve really enjoyed writing the Australian books,” Mr Maitland said.
“I’ve been here for 30 years –it seems much more relevant to me now.”
Slaughter Park will be released on October 3 and McDonald’s Booksellers in The Levee will host a book signing on October 8.
Anthony Albanese explains why he opposes plans for a same-sex marriage plebiscite. Anthony Albanese with former prime minister Bob Hawke at Parliament House on Thursday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Anthony Albanese, the knock-about politician who lists his life-shaping faiths as the Catholic Church, the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Labor Party – not necessarily in that order – has no time for those who might judge the worth of a family by the number or gender of the parents in it.
He was raised by a single mother at a time – the 1960s – when a woman who had a child out of wedlock was socially unacceptable in Australia.
The memory of his mother’s sacrifice and her unconditional love has led Albanese to scorn those who would denigrate a family because it has only one parent, or two fathers, or two mothers.
Love is all that’s needed, he says.
All of which, he revealed on Thursday, adds up to his reasons for rejecting the idea of a plebiscite on marriage equality.
“We shouldn’t be having a public vote where we get to judge other families,” he said at the launch of a biography that traces his own search for identity and family.
Albanese, Telling it Straight by Canberra journalist Karen Middleton, was launched by former prime minister Bob Hawke.
“You are,” said Mr Albanese of Mr Hawke, 86 now, “Without doubt the father of modern Labor. You are a giant of the movement.”
The quest for another father – Albanese’s own, who he had believed for his first 14 years to have died in a car accident overseas – sits at the heart of the book.
Even deeper in its heart is Albanese’s mother, Maryanne, who wove the fiction of the death overseas of a man she had married and who was Albanese’s father.
The fiction was necessary if Maryanne was to be able to keep her son Anthony from being taken from her and adopted in those far-away years.
Maryanne waited until her son was a teenager before revealing she had not married his father, an Italian steward aboard a cruise ship with whom she had a brief fling, and that he had not died.
A child born outside marriage in the 1960s – Albanese was born in 1963 – was declared illegitimate.
“Illegitimate. Not real,” Albanese marvelled.
He could not let go of the idea he might have a father still living somewhere. And finally, years after his mother had died and he had become a father himself, Albanese found his father in southern Italy, allowing a relationship to build before the old man died in January, 2014.
The biography ranges much further than that, of course.
Albanese has been a highly influential Labor politician for decades, and was deputy prime minister during 2013. He stood against Bill Shorten for the Labor leadership, and is considered to still harbour leadership ambitions. Shorten did not attend the launch of the Albanese biography, citing other duties.
But those searching the book for leaks about political intrigue will be disappointed, Albanese said.
“I believe if you have a private conversation it stays private.”
THE Royal Commission has heard that bishop Michael Malone intervened to stopa priest later convicted for paedophilia being appointed as principal of St Francis Xavier College in 1997.
Although he did this, he told the commission he did not report the priest, Brother Dominic, to the police, and left it to others to deal with.
He also defended alerting his colleague Brother Michael Hill about two other suspect priests, brother Patrick and brother Romuald, and describing their conduct as unlikely to be “criminal”.
He told the commission he said this because he thought their actions were more “touchy feely” than “penetration or masturbation publicly or anything of that nature”.
Romuald was later jailed and Patrick, although deceased, was accepted by the church as a paedophile.
The Thursday afternoon session of the commission also heard more about bishop Malone’s handling of notorious paedophile Vince Ryan.
Resuming after lunch,Bishop Malone told the commission that once Ryan was arrested, bishop Leo Clarke asked him to take over the running of the case from the church’s perspective.
Bishop Clarke had told him that Ryan had offended many times and that Ryan had been sent to Melbourne for therapy but that no therapy had taken place and that Ryan was returned to the ministry about a year after he left in 1976 without any checks and balances.
Bishop Malone said how much the church had known about Ryan at the time of his arrest was not “an immediate concern” of his because most of his effort had gone into handling the fallout “from a priest’s arrest”.
He said he had been given the name of a Melbourne psychologist, Shane Wall, who had told him his first priority had to be the victims of sexual abuse.
Bishop Malone said Dr Wall told him: “There’s going to be an enormous fallout around the whole diocese with tregard to this matter, but your first priorities must be to the victims.”
Counsel assisting, Stephen Free, took Bishop Malone to a media statement the diocese had put out about Ryan, which said priestly abuse had previously been treated as a “moral problem”.
Soon after, the commission’s chair, Justice Peter McClellan, asked about the phrase “moral problem”, asking whether the anal penetration of a 10-year-old boy had previously been thought of as “a moral problem”.
“I would think not, but . . .” bishop Malone said.
Asked how paedophilia could ever be seen as a moral problem rather than a criminal act, bishop Malone said the church was “a bit of a strange beast” that had operated its structures outside of wider society so that “civil law somehow was not seen as impinging on the life of the church, in the past”.
He said the church had changed since then, giving the second Vatican Council as an example.
When Justice McClellan asked him if there had been “a retreat” among the clergy from Vatican II, bishop Malone said it might be the case with some conservative people but the majority “would see the value of it”.
Questioned again by Mr Free, he was asked about the steps he took in 1996 to get to the bottom of what had happened with Ryan in 1975.
He did not recall talking to Sister Evelyn Woodward about Ryan but she was someone he relied on as a psychologist and as someone who had “knowledge in the dealings with these sorts of issues”.
He said he spoke with bishop Clarke but “as I mentioned earlier, he didn’t reveal a great deal”.
Justice McClellan then asked bishop Malone about a second 1996 media statement that contained a timeline detailing the church’s response to abuse by clergy.
Justice McClellan said the church knew a lot more than it had revealed in that document, to which bishop Malone said: “Yes.”
The chair: “And you didn’t tell the public that you knew that.”
Bishop Malone: “I didn’t tell them, no.”
He was also shown the transcript of a radio interview he gave in 1996 in which he admitted that:“In retrospect, with the knowledge we have now, no we didn’t act with integrity.”
Justice McClellan asked if bishop Malone now accepted there had been a cover up but the bishop said that wasn’t a word he would use.
Asked again, he said there had been a sense of needing to look after the church but after more priests were charged during his time he said he had an epiphany and that he could no longer sit on the fence.
“You either had to try to defend the church or you had to try to serve the needs of survivors and I chose the latter, so . . . ,” bishop Malone said.
Questioned again by Mr Free, he said he understood by mid-1996 that there was a deep sense of concern in the community that things had been covered up in the past.
He agreed he did not get to the bottom of what church figures including Monsignor Patrick Cotter and bishop Clarke –who were there in the 1970s –knew about Ryan.
“Look, yes, but I’m very fresh in the job by this time and I’m just sort of running by the seat of my pants,” bishop Malone said.
Asked if he wished he’d done more, he said: “Definitely. I often wish I had been more decisive and more aware of a forward plan than I was.”
Bishop Malone was then taken to an independent report commissioned after Ryan’s arrest that said although the church had stood Ryan down in 1976 and sent him for treatment, “the fact that there was no followup up, whilst regrettable, could well by explained by lack of understanding of paedophilia and the change in diocesan leadership during the period Ryan was in Melbourne”.
He was also asked about a statement of his from 1997, in which he had describedRyan’s crimes as “misdemeanors”.
That statement also said that: “It was not until 1995 that a tragic scenario of sexual abuse emerged.”
Questioned by Justice McClellan he agreed that this was incorrect, because church leaders had known back in the 1970s.
Justice McClellan: “And to say, as you have done, it was not until 1995 that a tragic scenario of sexual abuse emerged, that’s not right, is it?”
Bishop Malone: “Well, it’s not right. I know I can speak personally, I didn’t know anything about it until later in 1995.”
He was then taken to some letters he had written in response to the Newcastle Herald’s coverage of the Ryan matter, in which he criticised journalistJeff Corbett for accusing the church of a cover-up.
Questioned repeatedly by Justice McClellan he eventually accepted that there had been a cover-up.
Where bishop Ryan had written: “For Mr Corbett to accuse church authorities of covering up is both incorrect and a sluron the integrity of those authorities.”
Justice McClellan said: “That statement by you is not correct, is it?”
He said: “No, it is not correct, your honour.”
Bishop Malone was also forced to concede that church officials had known what was happening with Ryan in 1975 and that to tell parishioners otherwise was “not true”.
Taken to a 2007 letter from aparish priest, Maurice Cahill, bishop Malone said he had “a sense” thatbishop Clarke had known more about Ryan than he had let on.
Bishop Malone defended not defrocking Ryan because to do so would have simply “released a paedophile into . . . the midst of the community”.
Justice McClellan said the church still could have laicised or defrocked Ryan, but bishop Malone said if they did that, the church would have no further call on him.
Commissioner Andrew Murray asked bishop Malone whether he was concerned that some people might think the church was giving Ryan a “safe haven”.
He said some people “still think that, yes” and it was a dilemma whether to “keep him in or cut him loose”.
Ryan has not been defrocked but he is not allowed to act as a priest and has a range of conditions on him. He came of jail in 2010 but was sentenced again last month for the assault of a boy he had previously “forgotten” about.