Humans of Humanity: Jotika Rama
Hosted by the United Nations, International Women's Day (IWD) is a day when the world celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The theme of IWD 2023 is #EmbraceEquity, or recognising that each person requires an individualised approach to parity, happiness, wellbeing and success.
Humanity Health Group strives to support staff of all genders to achieve equity every day by supporting individuals with flexible working arrangements, study pathways, HumanityDAYs and with access to clinical allied health support.
To celebrate IWD 2023, we spoke to Jotika Rama, Chief Operating Officer for Back2Work, Accelerate Health and Assessment Squared. Jotika is also an exercise physiologist and an accredited physiotherapist.
Jotika spoke to us about her career, balance and the personal benefits of working for a flexible employer.
Hi Jotika. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today.
Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and career?
I grew up in Sydney with parents who came from two very different cultures. They both came to Australia as young adults from very different parts of the world. They met in Australia and decided to build a life together. While their backgrounds were different, they shared a lot of similarities, including coming from very traditional family units.
My dad loves soccer. My mum, sisters and I spent most weekends with my dad at his soccer games and tournaments. This foundation gave me a love of sport. It didn’t matter what sport I was playing, I gave everything a go and I still do.
Growing up, we had no idea there were girls’ soccer teams until I was in high school, where I made the school squad. One of my school teammates asked me to try out for their club team. I remember being hesitant to ask my parents if I could try out but my Dad was so supportive. I was offered a place on the team, which opened the opportunity for my sisters to play. 20 years later and after two kids, I am still playing.
My involvement in sport also opened doors for my cousins to start playing as well and now one plays internationally, representing their country in women’s soccer.
My love of sport also built a pathway for my career. After becoming and exercise physiologist, I graduated from a Masters in Physiotherapy. I worked in a clinical capacity, moving into senior clinician roles and then leadership.
The transition to leadership roles felt very natural for me. I love teaching and being able to help someone being the best they can be. This is what draws me to leadership.
Have you felt supported in your life and career to achieve the goals you have set yourself?
The biggest reason I am where I am today, is my parents. My mum finished primary school and my dad finished schooling at year 10 but their experiences made them determined to provide my sisters and I with opportunities that they did not have. I still remember my mum saying, “you need to study, get a good job and learn to drive”. She wanted us to be independent. Dad also wanted us to achieve. Their wants and expectations for us helped drive me to keep trying and to push myself.
My parents also taught me not to worry about what other people say or think and that I should always do what I wanted to do. If someone doesn’t like you or agree with you, that is their problem, not yours.
There have also been people throughout my life and career that have not been supportive, including extended family and colleagues, however, the value of independence taught to me by my parents helped me overcome these times and provided me the resilience to reach the goals I have set for myself.
Have you overcome any barriers that have made it difficult for you to strive for success?
Being seen and heard was one of the biggest barriers I’ve experienced in my career. This is something I continue to work on. My natural default is to listen, observe and analyse.
This is something that comes from family background, including being the youngest of three daughters.
It wasn’t until I was fortunate enough to be in a leadership coaching course that the facilitator observed this about me. She explained that this prevented people having the opportunity to really know me and what I was capable of. She highlighted how this could potentially lead to missed opportunities which made me realise people do want to hear my thoughts and opinions
I was extremely lucky to have sessions with the facilitator. She gave me the skills I needed to speak up, allowing me to believe people do want to hear and know me. It was a huge turning point in my career and life relationships.
What does equality and equity mean to you?
Equality to me is when everyone is treated the same, recognising we all hold the same value and are given equal opportunities
Equity to me is when everyone is provided with and has access to the support that they require to succeed.
How do you support females around you to help them achieve success in their lives?
It’s important to listen and understand where someone is at, what they want to achieve and to provide the support they need to reach their goals. Listening and understanding it the first step. Mentoring and guiding people by providing them with resources, access to people, providing support with examples of my lived experience, and knowing that I don’t have all the answers.
Following up and continuing to provide guidance is a big part of providing support to the people around you. Support is not a one-off conversation, it is ongoing. It’s important to check in.
How do you support the men around you to help them understand the importance of equity and equality?
I do this by example. Everyone is treated the same and provided the level of support and resources required to ensure each person is able to complete the task, achieve the goal, succeed in their position. I also guide leaders by providing advice on ways to support people within their team achieve their goals and succeed in their career.
How has Humanity Health Group provided you with opportunity to achieve your career goals?
Prior to joining Humanity Health Group, I had years of experience in senior leadership positions in a variety of industries however not in a COO role. This didn’t matter. Humanity Health Group brought me into the group knowing my level of experience. They saw the potential I had to grow and gave me that opportunity to do that.
What are your hopes for the next generation of women in terms of gender equity?
That we don’t judge someone’s potential based on how they present. That we take the time to stop and listen, to get to know people and why they are the way they are to provide the support they need. Just spending the time with someone can drastically change their pathway and open opportunities they may have not ever thought was possible.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Jotika.