IWD: Successful Thinking – Nicole Forrester, Fujitsu Asia Pacific


As a proud Wiradjuri woman, Nicole Forrester is a strong advocate for brands to build deeper connections and support digital transformation within First Nations communities.
Nicole Forrester is the VP, Purpose, People and Culture at Fujitsu Asia Pacific. | Image source: Supplied

Nicole Forrester is the VP, Purpose, People and Culture at Fujitsu Asia Pacific. She plays a lead role in supporting Fujitsu’s people and customers to experience the company’s commitment to its purpose – “to make the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation”.

Nicole joined Fujitsu in April 2021 as the inaugural Head of Office of Purpose. Her passion for driving positive change is evident in the programs she has supported to date. For example, Fujitsu’s employees were given the option to work on this year’s Australia Day. In addition, Nicole champions Fujitsu’s vision for reconciliation, which seeks to help shape a future where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians share in an equitable, just, prosperous and rewarding future.

As a proud Wiradjuri woman, she is a strong advocate for brands to build deeper connections and support digital transformation within First Nations communities.

Here she talks to Forbes Australia to tell her personal story and journey which outlines why she is committed to driving inclusive cultural change one step at a time.

What is something from your childhood or youth that gave you drive to achieve?

Growing up, my experiences of moving frequently – every two years or less, due to my father’s career in the Army, instilled in me a drive to achieve. As the new kid in town, I had to learn to adapt quickly by observing and understanding the people, culture, and customs of each place I lived in. This early insight has taught me the value and power of listening, as well as being heard and the importance of making meaningful connections that others might overlook.

On this International Women’s Day, I celebrate the power of inclusivity and its impact on driving progress and innovation. I advocate for embracing equity and creating an environment for everyone, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or background where everyone has the support needed to achieve. I now use these skills in my everyday work by helping decision-makers see the tangible benefits of inclusive practices, such as promoting gender equality through the inclusion of women and other excluded groups through technology. This leads to greater creativity and innovation for our customers and helps bring us closer to a truly equitable society.

What is something you do every day/week that sets you up for success?

I make time to spend with my family, friends, and the Aunties in my Community. After spending most of the last 20 years away from home, I can make more time now to seek their wisdom and to laugh while learning and sharing stories. The time spent with them reminds me of the immense impact of creating positive emotions that people will remember how you make them feel, not the facts you share.

When you include others, it helps them to feel a sense of belonging, and there’s nothing more powerful than a diverse group working towards a common success story. We apply this philosophy to guide Fujitsu’s collaborations to leverage digital technology not only to deliver commercial opportunities, but to help address development and social justice challenges that in turn ‘move the impact needle’ towards the Sustainable Development Goals for First Nations Peoples.

A great example is the recent Cherbourg First Nations Service Centre that we’ve proudly helped launch. Hear from the women-led team here.

The inaugural Forbes Australia Women’s Summit is on the 22nd of March, presented by NAB Private Wealth. Speakers including Miranda Kerr, Christine Holgate, Natasha Oakley and more, will be discussing how to break barriers in business, build wealth and make industry connections. You can see the full line-up and get your tickets at Women’s Summit 2023 – Forbes Australia.

What was one fail or disappointment that encouraged you to strive higher/do better?

Only one? There are too many to count! But the most formative was the realisation and disappointment very early on that despite how good I could be, there was a career pathway that wasn’t (at the time) open to me as a woman. (I wanted to be a Navy clearance diver but was rejected due to my gender).

It set the course for my dedication to strive for inclusion, to change perceptions, to hold space for voices that were usually excluded, and to generally outperform wherever I could – not for others, but for myself – to know that I can achieve, even if not given the opportunity of being on the playing field.  

What is one attribute that you think other people underestimate in you?

Some people will look at my long and varied career journey to date and not see the value of, or interconnectedness between, the diverse roles I’ve undertaken across a number of sectors. Through these various opportunities, I grew and developed a wealth of transferable skills and experience, such as knowing how to effectively unpick complex challenges to identify enduring solutions through collaboration.

Along with this, perhaps a need for recognition of the value that the broad, distinct personal networks and relationships that I have invested in over decades, which I can bring to the table. Leveraging both established and new relationships gives me great personal satisfaction as it enables me to support Fujitsu in our mission to bring together technologists, innovators, customers, government agencies, and educational institutions to co-create greater digital inclusion for the Communities that will benefit the most.

What is the most powerful action you have used to be successful in life, business, and relationships with others?

Asking ‘why’ is the key to understanding the context of what is happening now and how this came to be. Often people, especially women, are excluded from opportunities due to misconceptions. COVID-19’s silver lining is that we now know that geography and technology are no longer barriers to inclusion. Understanding ‘why’ and starting with an acknowledgement of “where we are” have helped change the conversation at Fujitsu. Now we begin our inclusion innovation approach not as a “No, but…”, but with a “Yes, and…”

What is something you value more than anything else in your life?

My perseverance and commitment to creating a positive impact. Together if we can create small changes to make things just a little bit better, then we can achieve what might seem impossible over time. All the while knowing that we will never be done, we can always find more ways to improve when we innovate through inclusive, impact-driven collaboration. Together we are stronger, as there is little we can achieve of lasting impact on our own.

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