Renee Garner is Head of amaysim, an Australian provider of mobile phone plans. She was a solicitor with Freehills from 2005 and 2010 and co-wrote Global Climate Change: Australian Law and Policy.
I didn’t want to be a lawyer. My childhood dream was to become a pilot that moonlighted as a professional snowboarder. But as I grew older, I realised that being a lawyer had more potential for shaping the world than shredding mountains all day. After applying for a Qantas cadetship and finding out that special orientation wasn’t up to scratch, I traded in my dreams of flying and dove headfirst into the exhilarating world of law school. Judging by the number of Toga parties and comedy debates that I got into, I’m pretty sure I had more fun there than I would have had in a cockpit!
I chose Freehills where the worlds of law and dance collide. The decision all came down to my internship at Freehills Perth, after a rather dry couple of clerkships at top-tier accounting firms. The interns were asked to do a skit at the annual party, and I led the meticulous choreography of a dance routine to Flashdance’s 'She's a Maniac' which was enthusiastically performed in lycra by arguably the most talented law student dance ensemble you've ever seen, and to the applause, fame and glory of the firm. I'm sure the partners saw in us all the embodiment of agility, precision, coordination, and raw talent that night. A firm that celebrates creativity, self-expression and collaboration, and brings the very best talent in Australia together to do wild things: now that's a place that's hard to resist!
My time at Freehills was extremely valuable from both a professional and personal perspective. I discovered the power of asking the right questions, thinking and complex problem solving. I emerged from my time at Freehills not only armed with a wealth of legal expertise and business acumen, but also with a sense of confidence in my ability to conquer the trickiest of problem or complex industry with the power of curiosity and questions. Most importantly, my closest girlfriends in the world all came into my life through Freehills. Nearly 20 years on, I am eternally grateful for the friends and experiences that I was gifted at Freehills Melbourne during such a formative and special time in my life.
Many people at the firm were particularly influential. To name a couple: Jarrod Muller (partner) was an extraordinary coach, and especially patient and supportive of me as I went off-piste exploring my curiosity around climate change law and policy. I'm very grateful for Jarrod's leadership, educative coaching and team building style, and often reflect on this in my leadership. John Cooper made a huge impact on me when he shared a career metaphor about 'catching the waves' of your career, the idea being that you ride your current role wave and if your curiosity, passion or impact subsides you simply paddle out to the next rising wave and ride it with impact. I absolutely LOVE this and have carried this metaphor with me through my career as I’ve passionately surfed non-linear career waves. I love the concept of following your curiosity with confidence and riding waves that are unconstrained by outside-in expectations. I share this metaphor with my team and mentees often, imparting the truth of extraordinary possibility and exhilaration laying in unchartered waters.
Addressing climate change and game-changing social impact present both urgent an exciting innovation and future-shaping opportunities. People think I'm mad because I love working in essential services (energy, telco), but it's these industries that truly elevate our standard of living, and which have the scaled ecosystem power to lead and shape wide impacting change and shape a more optimistic future. When it comes to our beautiful planet, I really want my son to have the opportunity to, like me, wonder and roll around in the mud of the magnificence of nature.
I was extremely fortunate to lead across several roles at Energy Australia. My responsibilities spanned corporate development, corporate strategy and regulatory affairs, risk and compliance and finally leading retail customer and commercial marketing strategy. Energy Australia is where I fell in love with leading high-growth and customer-led expeditions and learned how to harness the weapons of mass motivation and excitement; coalescing game -hanging creativity, commercial acumen and customer obsession.
I took the role of Chief Marketing Officer at amaysim in 2019. With my incredible colleagues I was fortunate enough to lead and shape the team through extraordinary change – two telco acquisitions, divesting our energy business to AGL, the sale of our mobile business to Optus, our ‘Big Love’ rebrand, strong organic growth in an increasingly competitive market, step-changing martech and data and analytics capabilities to drive our already market-leading low churn to record lows, driving NPS from 39 to a huge 56 over this time and retaining our industry-leading low TIO complaints score.
I was offered the Head of amaysim position while I was on parental Leave, and I haven’t looked back. I love everything the brand and our winning team stand for. The truly customer-obsessed culture and the exciting growth ambition to attack. I have unwavering faith it what we do for our customers, and I love the amazing team of superstars that work here.
I'm really motivated toward women finding deep confidence and connection as a launch pad for riding their careers waves, creating new opportunities, amplifying their voices, and forging unbreakable networks that fuel their success. I mentor women and have established a women’s network called The Multipliers at amaysim to cultivate and inspire confidence and connection. I love Helen Clark's quote which said, “Women need to roll out their own red carpet” and that's what I try to do as much as possible - rolling the carpet and hero our great women at amaysim through learning, coaching and development. To create high impact and meaningful change we need greater diversity for all and inclusiveness. At amaysim we have amazing incentives for women and men, but there is always so much more to do to create an equal and inclusive workplace. It is only through every single leader's and individual’s active observation and willingness to listen and problem solve with their people, that even the smallest changes can make big shifts towards restoring equity.
amaysim is all about growth. We’ve recently released a new campaign, with the tag line, Go on, feel amaysim. The campaign is really a big nudie run and really shines light on our mission to liberate customers from the typical drawbacks associated with the telco industry, enticing them to experience the freedom felt from breaking free from unnecessary telco expenses and worry. We also have some very exciting new offerings, but I can’t say too much about that yet.
I switch off by… running, dancing around the living room, doing Tik Tok dances and sending them to my friends for unsolicited positive feedback, hanging with my incredible husband and beautiful two-year-old and enjoying great wine and food.
I definitely stay in touch with former Freehills colleagues. Let me put it this way, I was in Melbourne last week in a Hummer Limo (don't judge me, it was a hen party) and half of the limo was full of my Freehills girlfriends. What's amusing is that my 'buddy' when I was an articled clerk, Caitlin, and her 'buddy' when she was an articled clerk, Anna, were all in the limo - there was something in the water when we all worked for Ziggy in ECM, we all became best friends. On that note, Ziggy is another absolute Freehills legend and fostered a great team environment! It's a big call, but I reckon that I have the absolute best girlfriend that anyone could ask for, and all thanks to Freehills!
This is my pitch to Herbert Smith Freehills alumni. Stay awesome, keep riding those waves, and cruise by and say hi anytime! Oh, and get you and your family onto amaysim, Australia’s best-value and most customer-lovin' mobile plan!