Diana Ryall AM
Senior Policy Advisor on Equality and Inclusion
‘I care about all people, their health, their education, their safety, their community, and the environment in which they live and work.’
I am delighted to be a senior policy advisor for equality and diversity for this refreshingly new political party, The New Liberals (TNL). Together, I believe we can lead Australia towards a culture that values fairness, equality, inclusion and a safe environmental future. Over the years I have become increasingly disappointed with our Australian governments. I believe my experience can assist TNL to achieve their policies to benefit all people of Australia.
My life has centred around valuing and encouraging people. My first leadership role came when I was 12 in the Girl Guides, which allowed me to develop not only my own strengths but also to inspire others to develop theirs. However, it was the 1960s and women’s careers were limited. Even at North Sydney Girls High School the career advice at the time was to select nursing, teaching or secretarial work – safe choices that could more readily combine with family.
After studying mathematics and science at Sydney University, I completed a Diploma of Education, believing that teaching would be my life’s vocation. But it was not to be that simple. Not long after completing my degree, I moved to North America with my husband. In the United States my citizenship meant I was unable to teach and was forced to find a new career. I was employed at Pennsylvania State University as a computer programmer in this emerging and exciting area.
On returning to Australia, I worked for the NSW Department of Education when my career was interrupted by the welcome arrival of my two sons. Like most women at that time, the following years were a balance of child-rearing, study and part-time work. In 1981, I became the training manager (part-time) with a company selling Apple products.
When Apple opened offices in Sydney I transferred and moved into a full-time role. I held a fascination for the use of computers to change lives. Over the next decade I advanced to become Apple’s Director of Education with responsibility for over 50% of the Australian revenue. The following years allowed me to broaden my skills across the company including business development in Asia leading to my appointment as Managing Director of Apple Australia in 1997.
It has been a long and interesting career path from Girl Guides leader, mathematics teacher to becoming the Managing Director of a major Australian Company. This achievement afforded me a first: the first woman to head a large tech company in Australia.
In the year 2000, whilst I was MD, Apple was awarded the Best Employers award from Hewitt Associates with a 90% engagement score. It was recognition that people in an organisation deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity. My belief that treating people well is one of the keys to successful outcomes. But my life and career were about to change again. That same year, I had a significant health battle and in 2001, with great sadness, I resigned from Apple to focus on my health.
After regaining my health, I found that retirement didn’t suit me, so in 2002 I founded Xplore for Success, which has now provided career development programs for over 20,000 women. Many of these women have gone on to become successful senior leaders! I was also proud to serve as the Deputy Chair of Dress for Success in Sydney, a charity which supports disadvantaged women to achieve self-sufficiency, from its inception in 2008.
In 2010, I was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for my work in IT, Education, Charities and Gender Equality. But there was still lots to do. In 2018, I stepped aside from the day-to-day business of Xplore to expand my interests in diversity, climate action and working towards an ethical government.
My values align closely with those of ‘The New Liberals’;
- we care about the people of Australia – all people
- we know that Australia must invest in the transition to a greener planet, especially supporting those previously employed in fossil fuels industries; and
- we know we need strong ethical political leadership to adapt to the changes that will challenge Australia in the 21st century.
My wish is that my life has made a difference to many other lives and that when I eventually retire I will have played a small part in developing a more equal and inclusive Australia that invests in the transition to a greener and fairer world. I’m looking forward to my role with The New Liberals.