The Squarewave CEO

Interview with Jacinta Carboon

Society is missing out on the brain power and contribution of women.

Everyone is too scared to really be disruptive. I think we need to be disruptive.

Jacinta Carboon Squareweave CEO


Jacinta Carboon has been pushing gender equality for decades.

She held an executive career with top ASX Companies, was National Manager of the Telstra Women’s and Business awards for five years and at NAB held the position of Project Director, Women and Money.

Today she’s CEO of Squareweave, a digital agency that combines human and technology expertise to deliver exceptional outcomes for corporations, government and the social sector.

Having worked with Jacinta on diversity panels, I can vouch for her passion when it comes to changing the game for women.


Martine Harte: Jacinta I’ve read you had a role created just for you at NAB,  how did that come about? 


Jacinta Carboon Squareweave CEO: 

Yes, when I started at NAB I had an amazing job looking after the arts and community sponsorship portfolio but my passion has always been around changing the game for women, so I took a proposal to senior management at NAB.

I put together a strategy paper highlighting some compelling reasons why NAB should be looking into how they were attracting women as customers.

I built that paper and took it around to many managers until it got to a point where they couldn’t not do it.

They created a role for me to focus on that, the reason why they did that all the data was there.

There is a desperate need for organisations to look much closer at women as customers, most importantly the female economy which is one of the biggest opportunities on the horizon.


Would you suggest other women think outside the box?


Jacinta Carboon Squareweave CEO: If you want to do something, don’t think it’s too hard. I managed to create a role for myself in one of the largest organisations in Australia which you can do if you have determination, persistence and willpower to make it happen and the compelling reasons to make it happen.



You speak about the power of sponsors and mentors in the workplace. What’s the difference?


Jacinta Carboon Squareweave CEO: A mentor is someone who will help, there’s formal programs, informal, it’s a tried-and-true part of business generally speaking.

A sponsor is completely different scenario, it’s not something you can purchase it’s something you can earn.

Sponsors are vital for your life and career. A sponsor is somebody who is going to be talking positively about you, when you’re not in the room.

A sponsor is somebody who respects what you do and is flying your flag, whether you’re there or not. Those people are critical in your career and in your life.


How do women find a sponsor?


Jacinta Carboon Squareweave CEO: I’ve worked in corporates where we’ve tried to formalise a sponsorship program and it doesn’t really work.

You can’t say, “Here you are, you are going to be a sponsor for me.” If you want somebody to be that sponsor, concentrate on how are they perceiving you.

Develop a good relationship with them so they understand who you are, what you’re doing, where you want to go.

It’s about targeting key people who you think could be advocates for you.

You may like to arrange a time to meet with them.

This isn’t a paid relationship. This is relevant to everybody at every level everywhere in life, in career in business. I encourage you to think about who is it who going to be influential.


What are your thoughts on achieving gender parity? 


Jacinta Carboon Squareweave CEO:  Society is missing out on the brain power and contribution of women.

Everyone is too scared to really be disruptive. I think we need to be disruptive, that could be quotas, something needs to be done to bring this to a head.

When I started with Telstra Business Women’s Awards in 2000 – the whole purpose was to get more women on boards and in senior positions, we haven’t changed. May be we need to do something which is disruptive for ten years and when we get past the ten year hiccup we would have advanced so far in achieving gender parity.

Some people may still say, “She’s only getting that job because she’s a women,” but that time will pass and we’ll move forward.


You speak a lot about ‘essential conversations’ women need to have in a work context. What do you mean?


Jacinta Carboon Squareweave CEO:

We tend to think if you do a great job, everybody knows about it and you’ll get this pay rise because of course your manager knows what a great job you’ve done and what you’ve achieved.

Don’t ever assume everybody can see that. Don’t ever assume that because you’ve done something and achieved this, it’s recognised by everybody.

You are your own best salesperson.

It’s not in our nature to bang on about what we’ve achieved, but you have to sell yourself.

You need to have conversations about people when it comes to what you’ve achieved and what you’re striving for.

If you’re going in for a performance review you need to put your case forward about what you’ve done, what you’ve achieved, why you did it.

Don’t assume, that your manager knows that or if they do know that, that they really ‘get’ what you’ve done. You have to tell them.

Have your facts, whatever way your work. You might do it in a document, powerpoint – give them something they can reflect on.

One of the biggest lessons in life: anything you are doing put yourself in the shoes of the person you are talking with.


Engaging Women does not believe propping up the work/life balance myth You were a single mum, how did you navigate those years?


Jacinta Carboon Squareweave CEO:  My son is now in his late thirties, flexible working wasn’t even on the agenda.You just did it!

I worked full-time from the time my son was four months old, because I had to support myself and him.

My parents helped out looking after him for six months of my working career but I just worked hard and knuckled down.

I completed my degree part-time as a mature-aged student; I pretty much didn’t sleep for ten years and that’s reality. You just keep moving forward.

I have a very good relationship with my son, we still catch up for breakfast once a week and he’s got a fantastic job in the technology industry.

There is no easy answer to this. In my view balance is very strange word to be using, everyone is out of balance.


Find out more about Jacinta at the Carboon Group.


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Martine Harte is founder of Engaging Women, a platform for social good.
She is a dedicated voice in the advancement of women & girls. Contact

Learn more about her here and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.


Posted in Interviews Engaging Women.