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IWD 2021 - Caryn Dawson, Auckland Transport

Published on 10 Mar 2021
Advice Trao


Join us as we celebrate International Women's Day over a month of special features, interviews and videos!

This global day recognises the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, with a mission to champion women of all backgrounds who dare to innovate, lead, and uplift others towards a more equal and inclusive workplace. At Human Synergistics, our mission is “Changing the World – One Organisation at a Time™” through developing effective leaders, innovative teams and positive workplace cultures, but we can’t do that without the help of our incredible network.

This year, we are taking the opportunity of International Women’s Day to celebrate a month of women in leadership and those that strive for constructive leadership and cultures.

As part of our series, we interviewed Caryn Dawson from Auckland Transport about her thoughts on this year's slogan "#choosetochallenge". 



Caryn Dawson
Culture and Transformation Business Partner and Leadership Coach, Auckland Transport

Tell us a bit about when and why you first became accredited? I first became accredited in 2019.  I have been passionate about the impact leaders have on people for a very long time.  All of us will have been exposed to awesome leaders but also to dreadful leaders who can really impact how we feel about our working lives.  I have found LSI Coaching to be such a privilege for many reasons but mostly to help grow our leaders to being more constructive/humanstic and to also understand the personal challenges our coaches are facing.  People can make themselves very vulnerable in coaching situations and I feel so fortunate to be part of that process.

What are some key insights you’ve learnt through this tricky Covid-19 time around constructive leadership? Leadership becomes even more important when our people have been in lockdown situations for weeks on end.  Never before in our lifetimes have we been subjected to a global pandemic which places so many restrictions on our lives.  Having constructive, humanistic leaders is critical to the wellbeing of our people – ensuring check ins with individuals are undertaken, understanding personal challenges being faced (whether this be the safety of our people in domestic violence situations, those who don’t have a space to work at home, understanding the challenges of children needing home schooling, partners also holding down jobs or losing their jobs and incomes – we really need our leaders to be humanistic and encouraging and especially during times of added stress and uncertainty. 

What have you personally learnt about yourself in responding to the challenges of 2020/21 and the pandemic? As an introvert in an extroverted job, I have learnt that I have loved working from home each day (I have the house to myself the majority of the time so that makes a difference).  I have realised a routine is really important to me – so I get up at 6am each morning to walk the dog and then I walk 10kms before my work day starts.  This makes me feel like I have had time to myself before logging in to meetings that are back to back all day long.  I also realise I need to try and slow the day down by locking in some short breaks to breathe and to answer emails and other tasks that I need to do before the day ends.  I think we work harder than ever whilst facing a challenge such as the pandemic. I have to add that I did find most of 2020 really difficult with the pandemic as my daughter was working in a hospital in the UK and did get COVID.  It was hard being so far away.  However, we spoke on the phone twice a day and that connection was really important (another routine that helped me respond to these challenging times). 

What does the 2021 International Women’s Day slogan, #ChooseToChallenge mean for you in your work life? I think as women we can often put so many barriers in the way of our growth and development and careers.  Particularly in the way we think.  #ChooseToChallenge for me means to challenge our thinking and knock down those barriers preventing us from growing more or taking that next step in our career.  We are all so much more capable than we give ourselves credit for – so lets choose to challenge those thoughts that are holding us back.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to our AP network? "People will never forget how you made them feel" Mayo Angelou


Auckland TransportAuckland Transport is responsible for all of the region’s transport services (excluding state highways), from roads and footpaths, to cycling, parking and public transport. Auckland Transport's day-to-day activities keep Auckland's transport systems moving; including planning and funding of public transport, promoting alternative ways to get around and operating the local roading network.