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Wise Women: Jenni McMullan

Emma Macdonald

“I always try and deal with issues promptly so they don’t drag on and drag me down in the process.”

In the lead-up to International Women’s Day, HerCanberra celebrates 10 outstanding local women who revealing their own wisdom based on the very different paths they have taken in life.

Jenni McMullan started her public service career in the typing pool of the former Public Service Board and retired in 2013 as the State Manager and Australian Electoral Officer for Victoria – the most senior female in the electoral commission at that time.

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On combining motherhood with a career

While the children were young I elected to work part-time but as they moved into high school I returned to full-time work and climbed the career ladder. Any career woman needs good backup, whether from a spouse or another source, you can’t do it all. You also need some “me” time to re-energise yourself, whether it is a walk around the lake or a pedicure – take the time out because it gives you the strength to give back.

I am happiest…

A mother is only ever as happy as her unhappiest child – if they hurt so do you. So when my children are contented, fulfilled and contributing to society I feel very happy. That’s not to say I don’t have a happiness gauge myself, but my greatest pleasures come from the simple things in life – walking the beach, working in the garden and seeing plants coming to life, and sitting around a dinner table with the people I love and who love me.

When life presents challenges

I have always compartmentalised and that has seen me through the toughest times. I mentally put the problem/challenge into a match box and pull it out when I can cope. For example, if I have to face something difficult, I choose to tackle it in a morning when I am freshest. I always try and deal with issues promptly so they don’t drag on and drag me down in the process.

I have learned in life that you can’t fix everything and it is when I can’t control or fix something that I have to accept the matter for what it is and then step over it and move forward.

Photography: Martin Ollman

This article originally appeared as part of our Wise Women article in Magazine for Autumn 2017, which hits stockists next week. Find out more about Magazine here

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Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author

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