My ‘Change Makers’ from Women in Focus 2018

Each year Commonwealth Bank gathers together business women from across Australia for it’s annual Women in Focus conference, with the 2018 event in Byron Bay titled Big Thinkers and Change Makers.  With over 2oo women present, conversation flowed fast and furious, but here are a few of the on-stage highlights that gave me pause for thought, and will shape my thinking in a way that undoubtedly will result in change of one kind or another.

There’s never any shortage of takeaways from a conversation with Wendy McCarthy, but this one I loved and will undoubtedly find myself chanting it like a mantra whenever those moments of self doubt hit.  “People don’t ask you to do something because they think you’re going to stuff it up, they’re asking because they think you can do it.

Clare Payne told us that ‘while endurance is out of fashion in this era where everybody wants results quickly, huge shifts and advancements in human achievement only come from perseverance and endurance’, and asked us how we were actively cultivating our endurance skills.

Symon Brewis-Weston reminded us that ‘As leaders, its your job to portray a sense of calm in times of rapid change.  Make fact based decisions, blocking out the noise and applying a rational filter to the hype.’

I also loved his analogy that ‘Change is like physics, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Have you assessed what the reaction to change is likely to be?’

Cecily McGuckin challenged us as female leaders to hold true to these tenants:

  • Be curious – ask questions, and make sure you listen to the answers
  • Value your gut instincts
  • Value your emotional intelligence
  • Build a strong support network


Dr Kate Raines-Goldie told us to ignore the games industry at our peril, as it’s already bigger than the film and music industries combined and growing rapidly.  She also spoke on the translatable nature of skills learnt from gaming, and the importance of bringing playfulness into our thinking.  I’m not a gamer, but this really resonated – ‘Bring game design process to your mindset – be bold, take risks, and prepare for the future by adapting.’

Jamila Gordon’s career path of growing up in Somalia before coming to Australia and building a sensational career as an IT visionary and leader could not be any more different from mine, but her message around the importance of ‘identify your strengths early and lean into them and you’ll not only do great work, it won’t even feel like work’ is one I could definitely identify with.

There were so many great conversations, both on and off stage, but these are the things that I think are going to be my own personal ‘Change Makers’.  A huge thanks to the Commonwealth Bank and Women in Focus team for putting on such a great event, and for giving me the opportunity to be part of it.

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