Leading Women
Leading Women
Apr 25, 2021
Priscilla Rogers, Director and Co-Founder of DOFTEK on smashing stereotypes, thriving in risk and infusing empathy into creating real-life solutions
Play • 24 min

In this episode Shadé Zahrai interviews Priscilla Rogers. Priscilla is the Director and Co-Founder of DOFTEK, the leading developer of innovative suspension systems for the automotive industry. She is also the Director and Co-Founder of Green Brands, Director of Australia Dementia Network Limited, Digital Health CRC and an Adjunct Professor at the La Trobe University. Priscilla is also Director and Investor of Upstart Innovations.


Valuable Discussion Points

(01:36) What is the story of Priscilla’s leadership journey?

For Priscilla her leadership journey started well before she thought it did and well before she thought she was a leader or at least recognised as one. For her, it's been in the context of entrepreneurship and innovation. Her parents had a small country bakery at the time and this is where she decided to make and sell fabulous rocky road. What she discovered that amused her was she was actually selling the product at a loss because she hadn't quite worked out this concept of cost of goods sold. It was at this point where she started to look for opportunities to create, to take risks and really to learn.


(09:15) What advice does Priscilla have for other women who are in STEM and in male-dominated industries to really thrive and deliver their best?

Her advice to the younger generation and to any females, who are wanting to pursue STEM and male-dominated industries is, do not look at their compassion and their empathy as a disadvantage, but rather embrace that along with their emotional intelligence, to really set themselves apart and to help whatever venture that they are doing to be successful.


(14:55) When it comes to having a really impactful and energising career, what is Priscilla’s formula for success if she wants to be really good at something?

You need to do what you truly love. Priscilla believes that passion and success are closely intertwined. She believes it's important to realise that success is different for a technical person. So it's so important to find what you love and also to find people that you love to work with. Time is the most precious commodity.


(16:32) What are the biggest lessons that Priscilla learnt about leadership and about teamwork that have come from specifically working with the person that she is closest with?

Priscilla has been really privileged to be able to work with her husband as she has so much respect for what he is naturally good at and the leadership roles that he takes on. So it's very easy to learn and take guidance from him in areas that she knows he's strong and passionate in. She believes that on the reciprocal side, he also looks to her and her strengths in other areas and it is through this teamwork that they lead and learn with each other.


Key Learnings

  • Females have an enormous capacity to be great engineers, great founders and great innovators. Women are naturally blessed with the ability to clearly gravitate towards technical thinking. Their natural instinct as females however, enables them to work with an elite level of emotional and social intelligence. These skills and empathy is an aspect that really does set them apart within the field of engineering and their career. You often find that the most successful women have a very strong purpose and vision throughout their career journey. It's about the why for them, it's not often focused on the status or money. They are able to be very empathetic, when it comes to understanding customers, listening to their needs and innovating for them. This drive for an empathetic process has become a pivotal reason for a more focused human-centred design in STEM and has led women to pilot these innovative positions in the workforce.
  • Priscilla added the research findings of the MIT Sloan Business School to the Leadership Toolbox. The research shows the need to redefine the way we think about and refer to soft skill. There is nothing soft about soft skills. This is not a lesser skill compared to hard skills. Instead, the research refers to soft skills as smart skills. Another tool that Priscilla added is that it's not enough just to create great products, it is also important to understand the intricacies of how customers search for products.


Quotable Quotes

“I do love smashing stereotypes.”– Priscilla Rogers

“I do believe that as younger people, we do develop very critical leadership skills that really come into play later in life. I think the constant desire to challenge and to grow and to be outside our comfort zone when we have an opportunity to develop those skills, they no doubt benefit us later in life.”– Priscilla Rogers

“Without taking risks, you're unlikely to achieve your goal. You just need to be very strategic and smart about the risks that you're taking.”– Priscilla Rogers

“If you are a woman in STEM and you're a young lady, you're the only female in the room, everyone else is at least 20 years older than you. I would say hold your head up high. You have so much to offer and you deserve to be there and really embrace that. – Priscilla Rogers


Important Resources and Links

If you would like to learn more about how CommBank is ensuring women are advancing their growth in business, visit https://www.commbank.com.au/women-in-focus.html.

Host of the Leading Women podcast, Shadé Zahrai helps women hack their careers to advance faster, overcome their limiting beliefs and confidently create the life they deserve. She is featured in Forbes, the New York Times, TED, Daily Mail and other media. If you’re interested in learning more about Shadé and the issues she’s currently discussing, visit https://www.shadezahrai.com

If you’re interested in connecting with Priscilla Rogers or viewing her professional portfolios and achievements, visit her LinkedIn via https://www.linkedin.com/in/priscilla-rogers

The Leading Women podcast is produced by Nicole Hatherly, recorded at RadioHub Studios with post production by Cooper Silk and Iain Wilson.

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