Melinda Kastanya

Without mentioning your job title, how would you describe what it is you do now?

Part of our business’ strategy is to have the best capabilities – and my role allows me to seriously stretch myself. I get the chance to immerse myself in some significant projects and be the person in the room decision-makers look to for advice on critical business decisions. I find this exciting and really love the ‘trusted adviser’ space I occupy in the business. I also sit on a Board and I really enjoy applying my skills to a completely different sector, whilst also creating strong links to my local community. At home, I have three managers who I report in to…aged 6, 5 and 2. Most days I feel like a logistics coordinator, but the juggling of both family and work life is something that the legal sector has prepared me well for and is incredibly rewarding!

What was your main driver to enter the legal industry?

I was drawn to the problem-solving side of being a lawyer and uncovering complex solutions. At the time I didn’t realise that the law would expose me to so many constantly changing industries and that as lawyers, we are at the frontline of transformational business decisions. The corporate world is moving so fast and I love that I’m learning new things and getting the opportunity to learn from market leaders.

What are the first three words you think of when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

When I hear diversity – I think of inclusion, innovation and strength. A room filled with diverse backgrounds, experiences and points of view creates lively debate and from what I have seen, always garners a better result. Especially when an environment of full and equal participation has been cultivated.

What do you think it will take to develop truly diverse thinking within the legal industry?

To apply overused terms – encouraging growth mindsets and developing commercial strength. My legal insight is just the start of what I am called upon to deliver. Recognising those who don’t strictly think in black and white terms (hard for us lawyers at times) and who openly and willingly take on transformation is key. Diverse thinking in our sector will quickly become the new-normal – so hiring the next generation with diversity in mind is a must.

Melinda is Legal Counsel at BHP.