Investability recently attended the inaugural 2023 Forbes Women’s Summit in Sydney. Forbes noted that of the top 300 ASX-listed companies, just 6.2% have female CEOs, female founders receive less VC funding than their male counterparts, and women only hold 18% of Australian board chairs. That being said, the Summit was themed around “The Power of Now” and explored the actualisation of unlocking new ways of thinking, transforming ideas into impact and how we can build a successful, resilient and gender-balanced future.
The event line up included influential speakers such as activist and author, Wendy McCarthy AO, former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate, top model and Founder of Kora Organics, Miranda Kerr, Co-Founder and CEO of Women in Mining and Resources Australia, Florence Drummond, Founder and Managing Director of The Dream Collective, Sarah Liu, AI Entrepreneur Dr. Catriona Wallace, CEO and Co-Founder of The Pilates Class and Monday Swimwear, Natasha Oakley, and Sunroom Co-Founder and CMO, Michelle Battersby, among others, who delivered inspiring keynotes on topics such as leadership, resilience, innovation and creativity.
What follows is a collection of the key points as well as our favourite “power statements” from the 2023 Forbes Women’s Summit.
The Power of Purpose: Wendy McCarthy
The Forbes Women’s Summit began with, Wendy McCarthy AO, a businesswoman, activist, author and former University Chancellor. Her memoir, Don’t Be Too Polite Girls, details some of the public backlash she endured as a woman in such high-profile organisations.
Wendy McCarthy’s Key Quotes:
“When someone tells you that something cannot be done, just ask them why. Almost
anything can be done if there’s a will to do it.”
“If someone sees something in you, say yes first and think about it later.”
“Don’t do something to be the best…you will learn as you go.”
“You can change the way you behave, but if you don’t change the systems to match your behaviour, nothing will change.”
“Power comes from self-confidence and knowledge…keep your head and heart connected – it has to feel right.”
The Power of Resilience: Christine Holgate
Former CEO of Australia Post, Christine Holgate, spoke to The Power of Resilience. On the topic she spoke vulnerably about the challenges she faced in Parliament and how she used the experience to push for positive change. In her current role as CEO of Team Global Express, Holgate maintains that her focus as a leader is to be resilient and listen. When asked how she gets through her worst moments, Holgate responded, “turn your biggest challenge into your biggest strength.”
Christine Holgate’s Key Quotes:
“When you think you’ve heard it…go back and ask again. You never learn anything by talking. You must listen.”
“If the workers are passionate about what they do, it reflects in their work. As much as I would like to say it’s me that turned this company around (Team Global Express), I am not the one doing anything. It’s the people who work for the company which make it work.”
“You are all going to be faced with adversity, but how you deal with it and how you allow it to define you, will be what your future is.”
The Power of Success: Miranda Kerr
From high heels on the runway to high success in the boardroom, Miranda Kerr has built cult beauty brand, Kora Organics from the ground up. Kora boasts that it’s the only certified organic brand used globally by Sephora and since founding the company in 2009, Kerr has worked tirelessly leading the global certified organic skincare brand.
Miranda Kerr spoke openly about balancing being a mother of three, a wife and a hard-working businesswoman and left us with some powerful messages.
Miranda Kerr’s Key Quotes:
“A mistake is an opportunity for growth.”
“It’s not a problem, it’s a challenge.”
“Lead with love.”
“Believe in yourself, trust your gut, and create the opportunities you’re searching for.”
The Power of Product: Michelle Battersby
Founder and CMO of Sunroom, an app for female and non-binary creators to monetise their content, Michelle Battersby, was one of the panel speakers on The Power of Product. Battersby’s power statement spoke to the importance of using your fear as a force to better yourself, the idea that once you tackle that task you are fearful of, you are levelling up.
Michelle Battersby’s Key Quote:
“When fear comes up, lean into it. With real fear comes real focus. Trust in your ability.”
The Power of Leadership: Sarah Liu
Sarah Liu is the Founder and Managing Director of The Dream Collective, an APAC top 10 diversity and inclusion consultancy. Sarah spoke to The Power of Leadership. She has been recognised in the 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians and champions women in leadership.
Sarah Liu’s Key Quotes:
“When there is no seat for you at the table, make your own table.”
“Don’t let other people’s expectations limit your imagination.”
The Power of Creativity: Natasha Oakley
Currently based out of LA, Natasha (Tash) Oakley founded swimwear label, Monday Swimwear in 2014 and has since founded online exercise platform, The Pilates Class. Speaking to The Power of Creativity, Tash shared her insights on the importance of experimentation and how we shouldn’t set limits or rules when it comes to being creative in business.
Natasha Oakley Key Quotes:
“If you want to be at the forefront of your industry, take risks.”
“Never be afraid of change. Everything I have I owe to being open to change.”
The Power of Representation: Florence Drummond
Florence Drummond is the co-founder and CEO of Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia (IWIMRA) which works to empower and advance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the resources industry. The panellists spoke to the idea that in some industries, a woman is only there to “tick a box”, for example the LGBTQ box or Indigenous or Torres strait Islander box. Further, Florence spoke to the importance of work life balance, that when you’re at work, not only do you show up, but you actually know what you want to get out of the day, and then allow yourself to switch off.
Florence Drummond Key Quote:
“Look at your bad side and embrace it.”
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