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Creating businesses that transform society

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5 pieces of advice from inspiring entrepreneurs at the Global Summit of Women Youth Forum

Introduction: I was really happy to be asked to nominate some HDR students to attend the Global Summit of Women Youth Forum in Sydney recently.  UOW PhD researcher Amy Boyle was one of those nominated and here she gives us some of the key take home messages from the event, relevant to readers regardless of age or gender!

On the 27th of April, I travelled to the International Convention Centre in Sydney with four other students for the Global Summit of Women – Youth Forum. The Global Summit of Women is an annual conference that invites women from over 60 countries in the public, private and non-profit sectors to discuss business strategies that will expand women’s economic and career opportunities internationally. This year, the Youth Forum brought together four young entrepreneurs to share their advice on “Creating Businesses that Transform Society”.

Panel discussion “Creating Businesses that Transform Society”

Moderated by McDonalds Australia’s business alignment strategist Kylie Freeland, the panellists included Holly Ransom – CEO and founder of Emergent, Alison Green – CEO and founding director of Pantera Press, and Elise Apolloni – managing partner of Capital Chemist. These motivated women were intent on transforming their industries and shifted years of corporate culture to create businesses with a “social purpose.”

There were many things to take away from the Youth Forum but these were the five standout pieces of advice:

There is a void in the corporate world that millennials can fill
Many companies are failing to catch up with the rapidly accelerating technology and convergence culture. As a result, Holly pointed out such organisations are failing to market to younger generations and compete in the corporate world. Alison extended on this, highlighting that companies are too stuck in “traditional business models” and have lost sight of their “greater social purpose” to banal profit based goals. Luckily, the world is changing – with increasing globalisation and social media, people are becoming more aware of social, cultural and political issues. If we stay at the forefront of technology and culture, millennials can assist companies to transform their business strategies, like in Holly’s case, or as Elise suggested, “get [their] own gig” to fill this void.

Change your thinking around fear and failure
In order to be successful, we need to change the way we think about “fear”. In a society where we continue to be taught to be self-doubting, self-deprecating and accommodating, this is especially important for women. The panellists agreed that for them, the biggest fears to overcome were often things like saying no, putting yourself first, taking yourself seriously and promoting yourself. These are vital skills and Alison reinforced in order to build resilience, “it’s the things that we’re afraid of that we really need to do.” To do this, we must confront our fear of “failure.” Holly stated that, “failure is such a loaded word,” with connotations implying “you can’t come back from it.” Instead of trying to be infallible and shutting down learning opportunities, Elise and Holly suggested we direct the conversation towards “struggle” and “growth.”

Don’t let your resistance kick in
We need to increase self-awareness around resistance so we can tackle this head on. Too often, women don’t apply for positions due to the fear they are underqualified. Holly emphasised the need to be aware of our self-talk; “catch your internal dialogue… be aware of what you’re saying to yourself,” and redirect “negative trajectories” to positive self-pep-talk. Alison advised the audience to “be authentic” – don’t take heed of insecurities that tell you that you need to be “older, more experienced and possibly male” to succeed. Ideologies such as these are socially constructed. If you don’t have the confidence now, Elise suggested, “imagine what future [you] might look like” and “act that out.”

Curate your relationships in order to be and do your best
A key lesson was to curate the people around you in your working network and in your social network. If a business or personal relationship is toxic to your health and your goals, Elise reassured “it’s ok to walk away from these situations.” This curation must also apply to our social media. Holly advised it is imperative that we think carefully about “who you want to track and follow” as more and more, this “will impact the lens you see your life with.” Holly aptly stated, “if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an army to raise a woman.” Sometimes, that means being aware of what you want, who will support you, and cultivating said army yourself.

Continuously seek out informal learning
Seek mentors everywhere for your career and your life. If you are intimidated by the mentor/mentored relationship, Holly suggests to rethink these relationships as “learning conversations.” For Elise, the best thing is to “surround yourself with people who are better than you” and get “really excited about what you can learn from them.” Holly regularly asks potential mentors for coffee. She emphasises that we make use of our network – ask connections to make “warm” introductions for you and build relationships prior to interviews and meetings. More importantly, the panellists advised to make use of the net. There are so many online resources ready for us to use and learn from, so if you are unsure where to start, just go exploring!

In an era when we are still debating women’s participation in the workforce, gender wage equity and the #metoo movement, it is so important that we have these conversations and hear from women like Holly, Alison and Elise. In the spirit of promoting women and their career opportunities, if you would like to learn more on this topic please see the following recommendations from myself and the panel:

o Panellist Holly Ransom’s podcast “Coffee Pods with Holly Ransom”

o Brené Brown’s coaching book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

o The Sydney Opera House YouTube channel or podcast, “Talks and Ideas”, which features similar panel recordings from the All About Women festival

Amy Boyle is in the first year of her PhD within the School of the Arts, English and Media. Her thesis will examine the movement of television from broadcast networks to subscription services and how this has cultivated female representation for a feminist niche audience. You can find her on LinkedIn 



Thanks Amy 

In addition to the resources recommended by Amy and the panel, are there similar resources that have inspired you?  Leave your comments below

Perhaps you have attended a similarly inspiring career-related event ?- get in touch if you would like to write about it for the blog (email Sarah saryan@uow.edu.au )

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the good read Amy. There is indeed a void in the corporate world, and there are also void in some industries as well. During AusRAIL 2018 that I attended last year, many presenters laid out how the shortage of high skill workers rampage in the rail industry, with an estimation of less than one percent of rail employees with post graduate qualifications. The industry has been receiving a surplus of funding in recent years, but struggles to catch up with the transportation demand due to low technological supports.

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