Welcome to the Merry Interviews, where we chat with members of our Merry Community, sharing their stories and adventures.
Today, we are chatting with Enya Cai, a Senior Policy Adviser for the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet's Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector. Prior to joining the public service, Enya was at Ernst & Young, first as a consultant working on process improvement projects for Government and Health clients, then as the Diversity and Inclusion Advisor for EY Oceania. In the latter role, she worked on implementing strategies for a more inclusive workplace around gender, LGBTQI, Cultural Diversity and Diverse Abilities. Suffice to say - she has a pretty amazing resume and we are so excited to chat with her about her journey.
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How are you connected to Merry People?
A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of speaking at an event alongside Dani, Merry People’s founder! Hearing her story, especially her leap out of corporate-land into her own business, made me want to be friends with her and we’ve been connected ever since.
I also just loved the boots... and even more when she told me they were vegan! So we got chatting and figured out how I could get my hands on a pair.
Can you share with us what you are working on now?
I am currently working on the implementation of the Victorian Gender Equality Act, which was passed in February 2020. It’s a first of its kind piece of legislation for improving gender equality in Victorian public sector workplaces.The legislation will apply to around 300 public sector entities, universities and local councils across Victoria, and ask them to regularly report on their progress towards gender equality in their organisations. It’s so exciting to work on this groundbreaking policy, and I work with an incredible team who make my job even better. You can learn more about the Gender Equality Act 2020 here.
How did you get started on this professional path?
I’ll preface this by saying that none of my career has been planned so far!
I studied Commerce and my first job out of uni was at a Big 4 Accounting firm in the Consulting team. I worked mostly with government and health clients, to improve their processes in order to manage risks. At the same time I was volunteering for the internal LGBTIQ network, which I loved because of its purpose-driven nature, and discovered that people can actually work on diversity and inclusion as a full time gig! So when a role came up in that team, I went for it, and I’m so grateful that I was given that opportunity.
In my role as a Diversity and Inclusion Adviser (a part of HR), I developed strategies, policies and programs to support our work in gender, cultural diversity, LGBTIQ inclusion and diverse abilities. I particularly enjoyed policy work and decided that it might be interesting to try my hand at policy advice in the government sector. And after a little while of lurking through the government job ads, I saw my current role and thought I’d give it a go!
So basically, I studied commerce to be a consultant, took a detour into HR, and have somehow found myself in public policy. Makes total sense right?!
What advice would you give to aspiring students or those just getting started in their careers?
I would encourage you to try to find your purpose or “why”. If that sounds hard (I know it sounded really daunting to me!) then I’d recommend just trying EVERYTHING to help you figure out what you do and don’t like. I worked at a bakery, juice bar, as a singing teacher, and all were really helpful for helping me understand what was important to me in a job.
Use that experience to help guide the features of a job that you want next - perhaps its flexibility, workplace training opportunities, or a supportive team. That will help you be less focused on the role or title, but on the features of a role that will help you take a step in the right direction for your career.
We’ve had some pretty strict Covid-19 lockdowns in Melbourne - how have you been staying merry?
I certainly haven’t been merry the whole time - but things that have helped have been... cooking (and eating) a lot, playing online board games (like Among Us - try it, it’s hilarious), fostering a very cute cat, being kind to myself and letting myself rest when I need to, and also trying to master my latte art (spoiler alert: it’s not very good… yet!). I’m very lucky to have my family and many friends nearby but I know not everyone is in the same position. I’m taking it one day at a time and doing my best, and I think that’s the most we can expect of each other at the moment!
Tough question: I know you’ve done work with Australian Girls Choir and Melbourne Music Week - what's your favourite song?
Ooft. That is a tough one! My favourites at the moment at Modern Loneliness by Lauv, Distance by Yebba and Lost in the Woods from the Frozen 2 soundtrack. But I think my all time favourite song is Stop the Love You Save by Jackson 5. It just makes me feel so happy! Or should I say merry :)
Stay Merry everyone! Xx
Have someone you think we should chat to? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.