Meet Shelley Cable, working to boost the number of Indigenous accountants

Where are you from?

Hi there! My name is Shelley Cable and I’m a Wilman-Nyoongar woman. My family comes from Narrogin (a small town 200kms south-east of Perth), but I have been born and raised in Perth, WA.

What do you do?

Lots of things! My background is in economics and finance, and for the past few years I have been mixing this with Indigenous affairs and culture. Unsurprisingly therefore, my passions lie in Indigenous business and financial literacy. In particular, I am looking at ways to boost the number of Indigenous accountants in this country to more than 32.

I am also the current Miss NAIDOC for Perth, so a lot of my time is spent in community engagement, community events, speaking gigs and promoting our Indigenous community, for example through the social media project (co-Directed with Mikayla King), “100 Days of Deadly Mob.”

What is one of the best decisions you have made?

The best decision I made was in October 2016, when I put my career on hold to embark on a six-month sabbatical. I was Miss NAIDOC Perth, and I had also just finished an Indigenous business course at Melbourne Business School. I was overflowing with passion and energy, and my full-time role as a financial analyst simply wasn’t fulfilling me enough. I decided to try ‘living with my heart,’ and the universe certainly delivered! I’ve travelled all over Australia, I’ve advocated nationally for Indigenous business and financial literacy, I’ve fallen in love, and I feel like I might have boosted my career opportunities, rather than halting them like I thought I was!

What is one of the worst decisions you have made?

Sorry for the cliché, but apart from never going to bed early enough, I don’t think of any decisions as ‘bad.’ I’ve been pretty lucky in always being able to turn situations around, or learning from them enough to make them worthwhile.

What are some of the barriers to female leadership?

To me, I find it difficult to be a distinctly ‘feminine’ leader. I find that the concept of mainstream leadership is stereotypically masculine, serious and wearing a suit (though this may have been influenced by my time in the resources sector).

I’m still learning how to be bubbly, friendly and over-enthusiastic as I naturally am, whilst still being taken seriously in leadership positions. That’s my biggest challenge – not changing who I am, and still being taken seriously.

What women have inspired you?

Oh so many!! My role models have changed throughout my life – when I was young they were always athletes, like Libby Trickett (swimmer), Serena Williams (tennis) or Chrissie Wellington (Ironman triathlete), and now they tend to be Indigenous business women… Kristal Kinsela, Amanda Healy and Michelle Evans to name a few!! Before I met these incredible women, I had never even heard the term ‘Indigenous business woman.’ But now, seeing them live with such passion, and run a business successfully whilst doing good in the world – I want to be like them!! They’ve certainly changed my life more than they probably realise.

What advice would you give to empower the next generation of women?

You’re worth it and you can do anything! Give yourself permission to try crazy things, because you’d be surprised how many of them can work out (trust me, I’ve proven it). More is lost through more decisions than wrong decisions, so just DO SOMETHING, take the first step, and see where it leads… I’m constantly surprised by how things turn out if I just give them a chance!!

What would you say to men about equality?

Men… I would ask them to educate themselves about the gaps that exist not just in salaries or employment opportunities, but particularly in the over-representation of women in the victims and survivors of domestic violence. That’s the biggest issue on equality in my opinion, and we need to start by changing our language and how we speak about, and to, women.

What exciting project do you have coming up?

I’m about to finish my super fun Facebook project “100 Days of Deadly Mob,” and am looking at ways to expand the project past 100!
I’m also very excited to launch an “Indigenous Business News” platform in the coming months, that will help put Indigenous business in the spotlight and raise awareness that successful Indigenous business owners aren’t as rare as we think.

Do you have a website or any social media platforms you would like us to include?

Sure! First things first, jump on (100 Days of Deadly Mob), and read about the amazing Indigenous heroes that we never get to hear about, in the Perth community.

Aside from that, Facebook is the best place to catch me for now, followed by LinkedIn, but I will be launching my own website during the year. Watch this space!


International Women’s Month series

All through the month of March we’re continuing our question and answer series with inspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to celebrate International Women’s Month. We want everyone – men and women – to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias.

Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. 

We are also recognising the achievements of some amazing women that have inspired us by sharing some of their valuable advice and how they are doing their part to empower women.