Our Women To Watch – 3 Amazing Women in 2021

With so many talented women in our corner at The Star, we weren’t content to confine our International Women’s Day celebrations to the 8 March – so we’re declaring this The Star’s women’s week. To mark it, meet our women to watch in 2021.

We’re proud of the many strong, funny, professional and fierce women who represent The Star. From leaders in the design space to some of Australia’s foremost gaming experts, meet 3 of our women to watch in 2021.

Paula Martin

With more than 15 years’ experience in the gaming industry, a decade of that at The Star, Paula Martin provides a wealth of experience as our Chief Legal & Risk Officer. On top of this, Paula heads Women at The Star – advocating for gender equality across our business and working towards the goal, among others, of 45% women to 45% men in leadership roles by 2023 (with the remaining 10% leaving scope for any gender identity, including non-binary). It’s leaders like Paula that will help us make that goal a reality.  

45% women to 45% men in leadership roles by 2023

Paula Martin

The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge’ – how do you challenge the status quo every day?

 If I’m honest, I don’t think I can say I challenge the status quo every day.  Sometimes there is a need to – take the time to plan, or take a series of steps to take up the challenge in a way that lands with the most impact, or just take a breath between challenges.  

I do however try not to miss an opportunity to raise awareness, particularly through asking the ‘why’ question on the status quo to draw out the discussion of how things could be different – better – before we all simply move on to the next task.

Have you seen barriers come down for women in your industry?

In my time working in the legal profession and in the gaming and hospitality industry, I have seen a whole raft of changes that have reduced the barriers for women in those fields.  In my experience, this was driven first through a limited number of visible examples of change and then building momentum through increased advocacy for change, across the genders.

While there is more to do, I draw confidence from the greatly increased awareness of the value of removing such barriers, and the visibility of advocacy for continuing to achieve change.

What mark do you dream of leaving on the world?

That I will make contributions towards ongoing improvements in pathways for women to have confidence, choice and opportunities, including in their working life and, if they choose, leadership roles. 

What challenge are you excited to face in 2021?

Challenging myself to cement some of the learnings and better habits developed from the vast array of challenges thrown at us – at pace – in 2020 into ‘new normals’, both at work and outside of work.

Lisa Zelinger

It’s been a mammoth few years for The Star’s Group Design Manager Lisa Zelinger, and the next few years are only picking up pace. Last year, Lisa oversaw the multi-million-dollar refurbishment of Sovereign– a space that upends the notion of what VIP offering should be. On her horizon looms Queen’s Wharf Brisbane – which will transform the face of Brisbane – along with the rapid rising of The Star Gold Coast’s new tower, both due for completion in 2022.

New Sovereign Room Opening at The Star Sydney – Saturday 8th August, 2020

How do you challenge the status quo everyday?

I always ensure that my voice gets heard in a meeting room and I make sure that I speak with intention, clarity, conviction and always with expertise. 

Lisa Zelinger

Have you seen barriers come down for women in your industry?

Although women continue to face barriers in development and construction, traditionally very male-dominated industry, there are opportunities to excel.

While workplace inclusion and diversity programs will continue to improve female representation in the field, women can take the reigns and manoeuvre around or over these barriers when they assert their expertise, earn respect and deliver.  

What mark do you dream of leaving on the world? 

I’m working towards leaving a legacy of creating environments that bring people joy and of buildings that improve life in cities but most importantly of raising children that only want to create positive impacts on the world in what every they do.

What challenge are you most excited about taking on in 2021? 

Continuing to create hospitality environments and integrated resorts that challenge convention and exceed market expectations.

Sandra Thefs

As the then Premium and VIP Gaming Operations Manager, Sandra Thefs helped drive the successful delivery of Sovereign, The Star Sydney’s VIP facility,– a project worth a cool $250 million. But that’s just a normal day in the office for Sandra, who worked her way up from a croupier to a manager in charge of a team of hundreds. Her skills were recognised with her posting to Senior Manager in charge of Guest Experience Transformation late last year – watch this space for what she’ll achieve this year.

How do you challenge the status quo everyday?

There are a few things. I guess it starts with my name. I choose to use the title of Ms rather than Mrs. I choose to use the name my parents gave me rather than my husband’s. 

Then there is my choice of address, I choose to live close to work so that I can walk.  I haven’t owned a car in over twenty years. There is also my housing status. I choose to rent rather than take on a large mortgage for my personal housing needs. Rather than sustaining a hefty mortgage, I prefer to ‘reinvest’; I prefer to be a tenant and invest elsewhere. I want to own and live in my own home one day but probably when I no longer need to regularly attend a workplace. I’ll take advantage of geo-arbitrage; move to a place that still offers a nice lifestyle but doesn’t have the hefty price tag of a big city – a beautiful place where I will build a solar-passive house.  

How have you seen barriers come down for women in your industry?

There is the obvious one: it is no longer mandatory for women to wear a skirt or dress as their uniform, the uniform policy at Brisbane’s Treasury casino back in 1994 stated that women had to wear black pantyhose with their uniform. The cost of pantyhose over a year quickly adds up. By simply changing the uniform option it has helped to close the gender pay gap.

Then there are the not so obvious barriers that are thankfully starting to crumble such as flexible work arrangements and parental leave. This is especially important when the woman is the primary income earner.

The Star now also has a dedicated room where lactating women can express and store their milk. The baby gets the benefit of breast milk as well as the benefit of mum’s earning potential and superannuation in the long term.

What mark do you dream of leaving on the world?

For the benefit of my son and all those to come I think the aim is to not leave a mark, right?

What challenge are you most excited to face in 2021? 

Engaging the workforce. No one was left unchanged by 2020, we were all forced off of our respective paths and given a sound shake up.  It’s really important that we hang on to the lessons we learned. There is a great opportunity to get everyone thinking differently about our industry and the opportunities it presents: opportunities for personal development, career progression and a common sense of pride in being associated with and contributing to the success of The Star.

Check out “Our Women To Watch” series: