In many respects they’re as different as chalk and cheese, but the duo who share the job of leading Deception Bay Community Youth Programs have two important things in common – a passion for helping the community and a commitment to empowering women.
Jennie Drever and Janine Botfield met about four years ago when Janine came to work for the organisation and while they now describe themselves as work wives, they freely admit it wasn’t love at first sight.
“When I started, Jennie had been here for a number of years - the first thing she did was bring out the bongo drums. I hate bongo drums,” Janine laughs.
“(But) I slowly started falling in love – it’s very rare to find a colleague where there’s absolutely no ego base and there’s genuine trust in terms of having each other’s backs.”
While Janine was horrified by Jennie’s insistence she play the bongos, Jennie admits to being daunted by her colleague’s energy.
“I was equally intimidated because I thought she knew everything – and I still think she’s very smart,” Jennie says.
“But you just slowly realise that people are normal and just as insecure as each other.”
Speaking to Moreton Daily News ahead of International Women’s Day, their respect for each other is abundantly clear as they describe how they share the DBCYP leadership, Jennie as director of community development and Janine as director of business development.
While Janine works predominantly from Brisbane, they spend at least an hour on the phone every day – time Jennie uses to walk while they talk.
“I can clock up 3km in steps on each call,” Jennie says.
At this point, Janine interjects: “But we don’t contact each other outside work.” “That would be weird,” Jennie says.
Janine says embracing being a woman and recognising that men and women have different learning styles and needs is part of the success of DBCYP, which delivers programs for young people and their families encompassing support and pathways to work.
“We do have a very strong feminist framework and we do that intentionally. We’ve learnt to own that and not be apologetic,” Janine says.
“I have a very strong belief in gender-specific programs.
“It’s important that we acknowledge barriers – the experience of poverty is completely different for women and our programs will be different for women than for men.”
Janine says there’s value in sharing roles because they each bring a different perspective.
“It’s not just about job sharing, it’s about weaving our strengths and our weaknesses. Jennie has made me a much better leader.
“If something’s too big for one of us, we have no problem handing it over – it’s just part of the role.”
Jennie says providing strong leadership and role models for younger women is a bonus of what they do.
“It’s about women supporting women. My mentor said `you know you have a very white male leadership style?’
“There are so many male leaders out there – I had to look at my leadership style and what female leadership looks like.
“I looked at (New Zealand Prime Minister) Jacinda Ardern and I thought `she’s unashamedly emotional and she’s actually a genuinely nice person’.
“Women have to be really good at what they do – the bar isn’t as high for men.”