Updated: Apr 15
Introducing LJ Loch, CEO of Alpha Consulting, Co-Founder of Outspoken Women and previous Chair of NOW Australia. With experiences across Journalism, Law and Politics, LJ shares with us where she started and what led her to bring her passions together for her career - and teaches us just what being a hummingbird can be!
Tell us a bit about you, your career and what gets you up in the morning.
Making a difference where ever and how ever I can - when we all do this, we can move mountains. I was lucky enough to work with the late great Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai through our work with Lions Australia and her challenge to be the hummingbird is worth taking to heart (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGMW6YWjMxw)!
My career path is a blend of journalism, law and politics. I have a BBusComm and a Masters of Commerce/Law and have always been in awe at the power of words.
My day starts with some enthusiasm from our bichon Anise to get out and live life, supported by an excellent coffee.
Where did you start off in your career and where has it led you? For a very long time I toyed with working in hospitality. I worked in a kitchen to put myself through my journalism degree and during my early years as a radio journo in Brisbane. I still am very grateful for all i learnedt during those years but also very glad my love of words won through.
I started in journalism during a golden time (well at least for a journo). Bjelke-Petersen was still Premier and i scored the political round ahead of the tumult of cascading Premiers, the Fitzgerald Inquiry and the historic election of the Goss Government in 1989. I left journalism to become part of this change as a media adviser. This was a brilliant training ground for understanding how to influence policy, drive change, and shape the life of an issue. I learnt from the best in the business and worked with some wonderfully wise people.
I’ve never been one to avoid speaking up and out. Being a very young woman in the role of a staffer entrenched the skills and confidence necessary to make sure that i was doing so with impact and influence. I also learnt very quickly that there’s no such thing as a dumb question! Never assume that just because someone is older than you or more senior that they know all the answers - ask that question!
I now am CEO of my own reputation company, Alpha Consult which officially makes me an Alpha female and co-founder of Outspoken Women along with Louise Pascale. We created Outspoken Women to help women boost their impact and influence in the workplace. I am Co-Founder of WestProtects Rozelle, an apolitical community group to minimise the impact of Westconnex on our community.
I am also a Director of The Funding Network, an awesome amplifier of change across Australia. I am also a longstanding part of Women In Media via the NSW Committee and proud to be a Lion.
What has been the biggest influencing factor on why you do the work that you do? Eg; was there a bad experience that led you to want to do something differently? We relocated to Brisbane when i was in my final year of primary school and my school experience went from my being very happy at school and Class Captain to being bullied terribly. No-one wanted to be my friend or even talk to me. I cried every day for all of that year. That’s when making sure every one present was included really stuck. Year 7 became a year of reading and dreaming of change.
Working in hospitality, journalism and politics meant I experienced and witnessed sexual harassment, belittling and bullying. I’ve got a short temper and had sufficient bravado at that stage to tell the offenders to shove it, which mostly ended well. I’ve always been lucky enough to have strong women around me who love a cause and that’s rubbed off on me. I’m very proud of my work supporting doctors and medical staff in raising the inhumane challenges people seeking asylum in Australia face. I’m also proud of what we achieved at NOW Australia (I was Chair) in supporting the need for reform to end sexual harassment and assault, including our detailed submission to the AHRC. Life is busy. How do you manage it?
In 2012, I actually ended up at RPA Hospital with a heart that was barely functioning. Turns out I had post-viral cardio-myopathy and for a little while there the prognosis was pretty grim. 2012 and 2013 involved a lot of hospital stays and lots of “your life is going to be very different” conversations.
Luckily i defied the odds. It also gave me the resolve to only spend time with those who inspire, excite and give a damn. Outspoken Women unleashes this each and every workshop and mentoring session as we support women in unleashing their potential. We are so proud of the army of outspoken women we are creating across Australia and around the world!
It’s also important to give yourself permission to breathe and dream and not just in the silvery half light before dawn when you can’t sleep! Meditation and pilates are a big part of that for me as is regular down time with great food and wine with people i love. Nightly wishing on a star and daily cloud watching also help keep the balance.
What is important to you when it comes to the work you do and the work of those around you?
Being the hummingbird is in our Team Alpha and Outspoken Women DNA. We choose only to work with those who want to make the world a better place. We also filter who we work with as collaborators and clients - if we’re not excited to be working together, then the output is going to be sub standard.
What do we need to do to push more women into leadership positions?
We need to get out of their way. And we need to believe in our own abilities and expertise to do the job - and to learn what needs to be done if we don’t already know. But it’s not just about gender diversity. We need far more diversity across leadership positions full stop including more appropriate representation of our First Nations people.
There’s been plenty of research, plenty of reports, many of which haven’t been acted on or funded. We need workplace cultures which celebrate diverse and lived experience. I am greatly excited by the mainstreaming of the need for change happening here in Australia. We need to keep fanning those fires.
What does a workplace look like if it is inclusive and supportive of women? Eg; does this look like a steady and generous maternity leave policy, or is it paying women a higher superannuation than men? All that and more. There certainly needs to be recognition and compensation of the deleterious impact on being a carer on superannuation and that’s not necessarily just for women. It’s about having structures, which are supported financially by Government, that allow every single one of us to be rewarded equitably and fairly even if we need to take time out to look after family members.
It’s about levelling the opportunities presented so that privilege isn’t protecting privilege. It’s about ensuring that we have leaders across our parliaments and corporate landscape that are truly reflective of Australia in 2021.
There are a lot of things going on in the media at the moment. What are your thoughts around the March 4 Justice movement?
What an empowering show of energy the March 4 Justice movement is. It was an important and compelling sign of the growing mainstreaming of the conversation and the need for change. This is change that needs our leaders to be part of the solution. While many have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the table, there’s a sense of hope that finally maybe the tide is turning. That this is happening at all is due to the extensive work that has been done out of the spotlight for decades in the gendered violence space by so many.
Top 3 tips for women looking to get into a Leadership role.
Believe in yourself - you can do this!
Back yourself - if things don’t go quite to plan, and sometimes that’s what happens, know that you know what to do to map the best path forward.
Embrace your impact and influence and use them for good - it’s okay to be proud of your achievements and it’s even better to share them including across social. Get yourself a mentor and a sponsor and challenge yourself to make a difference each and every day.