International Women’s Day Interview with Ruth Limkin

On International Women’s Day (8th of March each year), we celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements and help to spread the message of gender equality globally.

To mark the occasion for International Women’s Day 2020, we took some time to chat with an inspiring woman and Christian Super Board member, Ruth Limkin about her career and passions in life.

Ruth is the CEO of The Banyans Health and Wellness, a private treatment centre located in southeast Queensland. This unique residential rehabilitation retreat provides health and medical treatment and programs for individuals experiencing depression and anxiety, chronic stress and burnout, drug and alcohol dependency, behavioural addictions, eating disorders, and other conditions.

Ruth is a finalist in the 2020 Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Award in the category For Purpose & Social Enterprise.

CS: Tell us about the work you do and why you love it.

RL: The thing I love to do is to help make tomorrow better than today for individuals, organisations and communities. At The Banyans we provide treatment programs to help people improve their well-being, mental health, addiction, and stress in order to thrive in life. We also run organisational leadership development and wellbeing training.

CS: Looking back on your career, are there any defining moments that led you to where you are right now?

RL: Defining “moments” in my leadership have been the opportunities I’ve had to stretch and develop. For example, being asked to pioneer something a little bit out of my comfort zone, such as starting up a charity and a kindergarten. These stretching experiences gave me important skills, which led to The Banyans.

Another defining moment would be realising when it was time to make a move in my career. I loved the organisation I was a part of and what I was doing, but recognised I was meant to make a shift. It’s important to recognise when a season is ending and to be willing act on that, even when you don’t know what the next thing looks like.

CS: Can you describe a pivot in your career?

RL: After I’d finished working for a large not-for-profit, a major pivot was working as Chief of Staff for the Speaker for Queensland Parliament. This was a dramatic change of work environment but used a lot of skills I’d developed. I was invited to interview for the role by someone I’d known for a few years. It’s a good reminder to build and maintain your networks because you never know what opportunities others may open for you and, of course, what you may be able to offer someone else.

CS: 64% of woman working in Australia and New Zealand say they have taken a career break*. Have you ever taken a career break?

RL: I took long service leave for five months, which actually helped me consolidate the recognition that it was time for a change. It gave me the opportunity to rest and reflect and think about what I really loved doing. It also gave me the opportunity to write. Sometimes we’re scared to step away from the everyday but this is an opportunity for rest and reflection, which invigorates us and often plants the seeds for the next season.

CS: What do you recommend for women looking to return to work after a career break?

RL: I think Women generally need to get better at backing themselves. They often look at what is missing from their skill set rather than what they already have. You will probably be able to rise to the challenge if you just step out of your comfort zone.

CS: What is your passion in life and work and how did you discover this?

RL: I love helping people grow and develop in their life and professional skills. I love encouraging people. I just had a go at a lot of different things and paid attention to what made me come alive. Over time you find threads that give you joy

CS: What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?

RL: Starting up The Banyans was the biggest challenge in my career. We were trying to create something that didn’t exist in Australia or in many places around the world. We had to imagine something that didn’t’ exist! We couldn’t copy another model, so we had to build it from the ground up.

We did it by discovering and talking to experts from different fields. One thing I’m good at is knowing what I don’t know and finding people who do know to come and help me create an outcome.

CS: Who inspires you and why?

RL: My husband really inspires me. A few years ago, he wanted to face his fear of flying and learn how to fly a plane. He has since become a recreational pilot and an instructor, teaching others to fly. About 18 months ago he participated in the Outback Air Race, flying from Brisbane to Broome and back in a two seater plane. Overcoming his fear opened opportunities for him he would never have imagined.

Our guests at The Banyans inspire me every day. These individuals do the hard work of acknowledging that they need to make changes and then engage in that change process.

CS: What does it mean to you to sit on the board of Christian Super? What do you believe you bring to the board?

RL: I love being a part of helping people have a better retirement and making a difference in the world through impact investing.

I believe I bring fresh eyes as someone who isn’t working in the financial industry, helping the board think from the perspective of the diverse members we serve.

CS: What do you look forward to in your retirement?

RL: I want to be healthy and energetic to be able to make a difference in the world, with what I expect will be more flexibility with my time.

*According to recruitment company Hays’ recent diversity and inclusion report.