Meet Joanne Akkari – Manager, Brand and Marketing
Joanne’s relationship with Alteris Financial Group started while consulting in 2014. It was an exciting time for the business, with the newly launched aged care financial advice service gaining traction.
As the company continued to grow, a rebrand was necessary to better position the business and the value it represents. Joanne joined the team to lead the brand and marketing for the new Group entity in 2019.
“It was an exciting time to step into the role; to reposition the previously separate sectors of the business into one brand that truly represented what we stand for, working alongside the stakeholders to bring it to life while taking the whole team on the journey,” Joanne says.
A marketer for more than 20 years, Joanne’s career has not always been linear, as she spent some time stepping back from full time roles to care for family.
From a young age, Joanne has had a deep desire to break through the biases that limit opportunities for girls and women. Growing up amongst her Greek Australian community, culture was rich, families were strong, and female participation was often limited to clearly defined roles. She saw first-hand the way language, educational, and cultural barriers worsened inequities.
“Finishing high school was not considered important for girls, let alone going to university. I loved learning and was good at school, so I kept going,” she says.
Having embarked on studying for a Bachelor of Business at UTS after finishing high school, Joanne chose Marketing as a major.
“At that time, there was a strong focus on advertising, so the creativity of this area interested me most,” she says.
Just under half-way through her degree, and feeling quite unchallenged, Joanne jumped at the opportunity to work for advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, then moved quickly into a sales and customer service role with Qantas – all before she had turned 20. Working full time meant she switched to part-time study. The load was difficult, made even more challenging by having to work shift work.
Soon after graduating, Joanne moved into an analyst role managing various flight routes using data to maximise profitability. This move was fast-paced and exciting, and provided a unique insight into the revenue operations of an international airline.
Towards the end of the decade, Qantas embraced emerging technology – the internet. Again, Joanne jumped at the opportunity to add to her skill set and challenge herself, so she put up her hand to work within the newly created digital team. Her insight into the customer journey from her time in customer service, together with her knowledge about how the business worked behind-the-scenes, stood her in good stead.
“It was all so new. It was brave to put my hand up like that,” she laughs. But the chance paid off.
“Our team translated the complex booking process into an on-screen experience that was now in the customer’s hands. I remember the moment when I recorded the company’s 200th online booking! Customers fully embraced the technology that allowed them to self-serve and being at the forefront of this innovation is a career highlight,” Joanne adds.
Because the new digital experiences were so intimately aligned with the company’s brand, Joanne began working closely with the Qantas marketing team as they continued to build a digital presence. Her unique mix of skills and experience saw her spend 13 years with the airline.
When her children were younger, Joanne spent several years self-employed as a marketing consultant and then joined Twinlife Marketing, a company that was an early champion of work/life balance.
“Working in a hybrid environment was ahead of its time. I very much appreciated the balance I was empowered to create,” she says.
In both her professional and personal life, Joanne has experienced some of the barriers women face when it comes to financial empowerment.
“Taking a career break or reducing your time at work to support family was seen as suggesting a lack of commitment and enthusiasm, and this would limit opportunities,” she says.
“I believe that women, who still most often reduce their work hours to support family, suffer from the bias that they do not spend enough time on their work. But it’s not only about the amount of time. We need to consider the quality of time dedicated, their expertise, and their commitment, which is indeed my experience working with professional women juggling career and family.”
Today, Joanne is proud to be part of an organisation that is active in its pursuit to empower more women to take control of their finances.
Having played an integral role in the establishment of Alteris Women – a supportive, female-focussed community within Alteris Financial Group – Joanne feels her lived experience provides her with a deep insight and understanding of the biases that still exist and the benefits that women’s financial empowerment has to individuals, families, and communities.
“Empowering women helps everyone, and I am particularly proud that Alteris Women is a genuine pursuit to add value to the world,” she concludes.
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