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How I Got Here - Amena Reza

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

Some people come into your life for a reason and Amena is one of those people for me. I met Amena last year through a mutual business connection, and the universe definitely brought us together as we’ve both benefitted professionally and personally as a result of connecting.

Amena is a powerhouse and it’s obvious from the outset she oozes purpose! It’s very clear that she is driven by making a difference for the betterment of people’s lives and she shows up as a leader in everything she does. Amena also has an amazing network and is gifted at connecting people and opportunities to support those around her. I was thrilled when Amena jumped at the chance to be featured in this month’s blog, as she’s an inspiration and one of the most driven people I know. Enjoy the read!

What is your current role and how does it fulfil you?

In January 2021, I became the Chief Executive Officer of Brisbane based disability services provider Mamre. Mamre is a not for profit, values driven organisation, with a team that walks alongside our supported people and their families to deliver to our purpose of creating good lives together.

As a passionate believer in creating an equal and inclusive world for all people, I find it deeply fulfilling to have my work be able to make a positive impact on the world and to people's lives. To think that what I have in my experience toolkit can bring value to a team that really makes a difference, is what drives me to come to work each day.

It has been my dream to lead a purpose driven organisation and so for me I take the responsibility of my role at Mamre very seriously. I am extremely proud of the team and feel humbled as I watch their dedication and passion each day. It is not without many challenges, however for those that know me well they know I thrive on taking challenges on and working towards stronger and better outcomes for all who are a part of our Mamre community.

My passion for making a difference also sees me hold a Non Executive Director role for RSPCA Qld (as a devout animal lover) as well as the Presidency of the Zonta Club of Brisbane City Heart, a charity close to my heart as it enables me to bring opportunity to women and girls who have not had the opportunities I have been blessed with.

What career decisions and experience led you to where you are today?

When I reflect back to my school days I remember feeling in my heart that I wanted to do something that helped people. I contemplated becoming a social worker but I was really good at accounting and economics and seemed to have a head for business. I was encouraged to play to that strength and hence why I completed an Accountancy degree. I never regret that decision as it has enabled me to take that business aptitude, coupled with my leadership ability to have the privilege of a career that spans working in both the commercial and not for profit sector.

I have been blessed from early on in my career by working for empowering mentors, who provided me with opportunities to grow and develop quickly. I spent the first 15 + years of my career as a partner in leading Brisbane based architecture firm ML Design after coming on board as financial controller, and within 12 months being a partner in that business.

Being a business owner from an early age gave me a true understanding of risk, reward and responsibility all of which I found incredibly rewarding. The ability to be able to make decisions, drive change and develop an appreciation of the world of design will never leave me and I am forever grateful for being given those opportunities as they helped define me as the leader I am today.

However there came a point in my career where I knew I needed to follow that sense of purpose and desire to help people and truly make a difference . So I made the leap into the NFP world which led me to the disability sector. I took the role of GM- Corporate Services for CPL (Choice Passion Life) formerly the Cerebral Palsy League, one of Qld's largest disability support providers. I was really on steep learning trajectory, but once again supported by an empowering leader who gave me the confidence to believe I could achieve whatever I wanted in my career. So began my connection to disability as well as the start of what saw a number of consulting and board roles across a variety of NFP's.

I believe the universe delivered me the chance to be a CEO at the right time, and that the role with Mamre brings together that early thought of social work which reflected my genuine care for people coupled with being able to use my business acumen to make a valuable contribution to the organisation's strategic direction and future sustainability.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to end up where you have?

To always follow your instincts and to be assertive about your aspirations. Listen to what your heart tells you and what fulfils you most. Work is such a big part of our lives that you have to be happy doing what you do. Believe in yourself, and don't be afraid to ask for what you want, because most of the time people want to support and empower you to succeed. Always remember to keep your priorities in order and look after the most important people in your life.

As a highly driven person, I have to tell myself this everyday. For me, the balance comes from having an amazing and patient husband, beautiful family & friends, my two precious fur babies Remi & Molly and keeping myself as fit as I can.

Be Fabulous

Lisa xx

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