1. Tell us a little about yourself?
I am a Marketing & Communications Specialist based in Brisbane. I have a corporate background, and for 10-years, I ran Marketing & Communications Strategies for brand new & off the plan developments, predominately in the Brisbane area. At the start of this year, I took the plunge to run my own business, and I love it! I work with small businesses, and I have found I work with many clients whose businesses are born out of a passion. However, at times, these businesses struggle with everyone telling them what they should be doing, and these strategies don’t always align with their ethos. Too often, especially as women, we are given models we are supposed to conform to in order to be ‘successful’ business people. How we talk about our businesses, especially when they are our passion, is something we should be excited to share and not feel overwhelmed about. I love helping my clients find their ‘voice’ and empower them to do business the way they want. I firmly believe that we don’t have to compromise our morals or put others down to do ‘business’ well. Nor do we have to accept underperformance because we don’t want to endanger a relationship. It’s just plain professionalism. Over the last 6-months alone, I have experienced some hurdles to get to where my business is now, and I am sure I am in for many more on this journey. Someone has told me from an agency I just met (male) at a networking function that ‘they have clients they can pass to me because they may be too small for them’. This comment was not intended to be a leg-up but to put me in my place. When I started freelancing, I was in the final round for 3 different part-time contract roles. All three I missed out on. All three gave me feedback and said that the roles were given to a more experienced gentleman or variations of that sentiment. I mean, all in the same month? I am willing to accept my shortcomings, but this was too much of a coincidence. I decided to educate myself on how to sell myself better. As someone not comfortable with ‘selling’ myself, I had to work out how to sell my consultancy as a better option to the men in the room, so I went to a Sales Seminar. I left with a revelation: How can a male in his 20’s teach me to sell myself when I am not the problem? I realised these rejections were coming in because the companies I was talking to are not my clients. So I started focusing on my small business clients, the ones at transition points, and not only in women-led businesses. And I have found my people in the most amazing clients, so it is no longer a hard slog. Most importantly, I started attending networking events and found some inspiring businesswomen—women who come to these events with a common thread of supporting each other rather than selling something. Like-minded people come with the mindest of collaboration rather than competition.
2. Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?
I have had the privilege of being surrounded by incredible women throughout my life. From my Nannas, Mum and Aunts who taught me that compassion is a strength, to do things on my terms, and no matter how hard, there is no grey area for doing the right thing. To the women in business who I have been lucky enough to have worked with over the years, who have mentored me, taught me resilience, tenacity and to own my voice in what can be a very loud and crowded room.
3. Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?
We all have blind spots, bias and ingrained social norms, including being defined as a ‘Female CEO’ instead of just a ‘CEO’. My opinion is that by having more diversity in leadership roles, we start to change what is ‘normal’. I’m not talking about an overt overthrowing of the status quo. Things we do every day do matter. It’s things like having people recognise that calling someone ‘young lady’ in a meeting is not endearing; it is just plain patronising. If you are to speak up about something like this, other people in the room get why it is not ok and will support you. When we start having diversity at the table, we have to start learning how to communicate better, read the room, and give someone the space to speak.
Most importantly, we learn how to listen to those around us. As a creative soul, a great brainstorm session means surrounding myself with people who see the world differently. If you have always had a voice, it comes naturally to stand up when you are spoken over. When someone is consistently minimised, speaking up is not easy. Diversity means creating spaces for more perspectives and role models who make us feel we have a place for us at that metaphorical or literal table.
4. How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?
Diversity and inclusion come from a place of respect, which has to be more than a policy or procedure. It is an attitude that, in my opinion, needs to be top-down.
5. Would you like to tell us a bit more about your thoughts/ comments?
I had intended to launch my business with a professional blog. But my genuinely awesome sister is a Scientist, and in February, I made an impulse decision and launched my blog with a blog post dedicated to her on the International Day of Girls and Women in Science, and I would like to share it here as it sums up my thoughts: https://www.musecommunications.com.au/post/my-sister-is-an-alchemist