Odyssey Woman Tracey Wood has been shaking up company boards and breaking barriers for decades. With 25 years in HR and a solid decade steering international businesses, her passion for people has led to an exceedingly successful career.
Though she steps down this month from her role as Vice President of People and Organization at Mars, North America, to return to her roots, she is driven to carry on her tradition of making change to ensure diversity and inclusion.
Odyssey caught up with her recently for a chat on what’s next for her. As expected, Wood says she will continue her role as a board strategist to effect positive change. According to Forbes Magazine, this is the brand of change that leads to better financial performance.
“I have begun the search for chief human resources officer roles in Australia where I can make a difference in ‘how’ business results are delivered,” she says.
She’s quick to add, “Australia is well-known and well-loved for being very multicultural, and has a strong indigenous heritage, but, there is a lot to do in terms of both gender and ethnic diversity to ensure Australian workplaces create a real sense of inclusion and belonging.”
Indeed, it’s hard to argue that the Land Down Under hasn’t made great strides as a change agent. Its first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was elected in 2010. And the government has recently thrust equality into the spotlight with the “Gender Equality Act 2020.” Wood points out that there is so much more work to be done.
“I’m impatient to have more than one female prime minister as part of our Australian story,” she says.
Not just for now, but for future generations: “According to the World Economic Forum, it could take another 257 years to close the global gender equality gap — in terms of economic participation,” she says. “In my lifetime, I want us to take bigger and bolder strides. My nieces are beginning to enter the workforce and I want their experience to be phenomenal, because they are phenomenal women.”
Which brings us to her No. 1 priority — family. “My husband James, and our three boys Lachlan, Cameron, and Mathew, returned to Australia over nine weeks ago,” she says ardently. “So my first priority is to spend some quality time with them.”
Wood says her future plans are wide open. But there’s one thing she knows for sure — the need for equality is urgent.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned from the Odyssey Retreat was the need to create space to have the ‘real conversation.’ In my experience, these are the talks that aren’t easy to hear — in fact they are down-right uncomfortable at times — but these are the most critical conversations, because they will likely result in action.”
She should know: Her decades of advising, scaling, and staffing multinational companies has made her a role model. And she intends to fully leverage her business acumen for firms in Australia.
She sums it up best: “I have a role — we each have a role — to hold ourselves and each other accountable for real progress.”
Odyssey’s CEO and Founder Linda Spradley Dunn summed it up, “I was in awe of Tracey’s ability to look through a different lens based on her background as a way to create innovative solutions. Odyssey has no doubt she will fulfill that role and more in Australia. We salute Tracey Wood for her tenacity on behalf of women everywhere.”
Good Luck Tracey!