To mark International Women’s Day 2022, Information Age is publishing a special series, Women in IT Leadership. We speak with 15 women in various tech roles across Australia about how they got their start in the IT industry, their approach to leadership, and how to encourage more females into technology careers.

Today we speak with Michelle Hardie, Head of Strategy, Operations and Enablement at AWS.

#iwd2022 #breakthebias


Once she completed a Bachelor of Commerce with a marketing major, Michelle Hardie turned to marketing-related roles to kick off her career.

After a conversation with campus recruiting, she was drawn to management consultancy due to the range of work. One important element to any work she would undertake was that it had to have variety.

“I really liked the idea of being immersed in new challenges, working with different teams and companies across various industries; this led me to change management.”

It was the early nineties and technological advancement in change management was taking off.

“Organisations were looking at ways they could streamline processes and become more cost effective. It was the era of resource planning, with systems like SAP. What excited me most were how all these tech changes changed people.”

Michelle was drawn to the way people interacted with technology and how it could improve their performance.

For over two decades, her career has spanned across management consulting with numerous roles, including working with large enterprises on SAP transformation programs, project and program management quality and risk roles, and sales effectiveness.

“What I love about working in tech industry is that it is never static. The only constant in the tech industry is change; personally find this challenging and exciting. It helps for all of us to think differently about how we operate.

For the past three and a half years Hardie has been with Amazon Web Services. In her current role as Head of Strategy and Operations for AWS in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), she leads strategy, business and sales operations.

A culture of innovation

“I love working with a diverse group of people. Personally, having an inclusive, diverse and equitable team has such a positive impact on the products and services that help us better serve our customers.”

One of her roles is president of the Women@Amazon ANZ affinity group. Michelle started a local chapter of the group.

“I started the local chapter for Australia and New Zealand for women in Amazon. The stewardship element in this role is very important to me and I take this very seriously. We all have the ability to leave the world in a better place. I can do this in this role.

“What I love about it is that it enables people to develop stronger human connection and this impacts our company in a positive way. I am super humbled to play a part in this group.”

One area of concern is attracting more people into the IT industry. Michelle says research her company undertook with AlphaBeta research revealed that Australia requires 6.5 million digital workers by 2025.

“It’s well recognised across the industry that we have a pipeline challenge, particularly around women in tech roles.

“Women only make up 29 per cent of the current tech workforce. We need to look at ways we can positively impact this future pipeline. We need to encourage more girls and women to learn tech skill and sustain them.

“There is a systemic idea in the minds of young girls, that if you work in tech, you’re working in a dark corner with a hoodie on, coding 24/7. We know it’s so much more than that. Not only do we need skills, we also must inspire.”

Away from work, Hardie turns to her love of tennis.

“I haven’t played for a couple of decades, and I have picked it up again. I’ve become deliberate in having balance in my life and tennis is a great release. Technology is so fast paced, it’s important to have time out.”