Creating unstoppable women in Australia’s finance industry

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Published in CEO Magazine by Holly Johnson.

The sixth annual Financial Executive Women Leadership Conference brought more than 250 delegates together to analyse and celebrate the positive progression of women in Australia’s challenging financial services industry.

On Thursday 28 March 2019, more than 250 female financial executives gathered at Macquarie’s Sydney office for the sixth annual Financial Executive Women (FEW) Leadership Conference.

Recognised as Australia’s premier event for senior women in financial services, this year’s theme was ‘Unstoppable’. Co-hosted by Macquarie and PEXA, the event was dedicated to the women who continue to break barriers in the male-dominated finance industry.

FEW Founder and CEO Judith Beck says this theme was chosen to inspire the industry to go forward after a stressful year, find the positives, make the changes and be unstoppable.

“The conference ensures our message of ‘Positive Progression of Women’ is heard loud and clear,” she explains.

“To understand that as an industry we achieve so many positive things that we should be proud of. The agenda today is designed to help you achieve your goals and be unstoppable in your career.”

Throughout the day, attendees heard practical tips and insights from 18 experts (both male and female) in leadership and personal development, including international speakers, authors and renowned leaders in financial services.

After Macquarie Group Managing Director and CEO Shemara Wikramanayake’s inspiring opening address, Catriona Wallace, Founder and CEO of Flamingo AI, shared her journey of leading the second female CEO and female Chair led business on the Australian Stock Exchange.

“There’s an expression among entrepreneurs that ‘any money is good money’ regardless of the strings attached and it’s something I don’t agree with,” Catriona argues.

“I believe that it’s more important to know yourself and stick to your values. Don’t take money if it’s compromised and it doesn’t align with your values. You might suffer in the short term, but I promise it will pay off in the long term.”

Women empowering women

One of the most relatable sessions of the day was led by Katrina McCarter, Founder and CEO of Marketing to Mums, a marketing and research consultancy which specialises in helping businesses sell more to Australia’s most powerful consumer.

Demonstrating that success differs for everyone, Katrina shared seven lessons she learned on her journey from corporate businesswoman to stay-at-home-mum to successful entrepreneur:

  1. It’s okay to be different;
  2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable;
  3. Stay relevant;
  4. Partnerships are powerful;
  5. You must be customer driven;
  6. Dream big – you will find a way;
  7. You can’t do it all alone – no matter how much you think you can.

Positive Progression of Women Award

In recognition of the achievements of women in financial services over the last year, FEW presented the Positive Progression of Women Award to Marion Mays, Founder of Thalia Stanley Group.

“In 2019, it is very real that gender inequality is still an inhibitor to women earning a decent living and, more importantly, being able to provide for their financial future in retirement,” Marion said in her acceptance speech.

Based in Melbourne, Marion launched Thalia Stanley Group five years ago with the aim of mentoring and providing direct property investment education.

“A woman experiences domestic violence every week and women aged 55 and over are the fastest growing demographic at risk of becoming homeless.”

“My work has shown me that financial literacy is proven to be a preventative solution to poverty, homelessness and the financial abuse of women,” she noted.

Since its inception in 2013, FEW has continued to grow and develop its career advocacy program for women in finance with the backing of some of Australia's leading financial institutions.

As well as a valuable set of industry-proven tips and tricks, attendees also took home a stylish conference bag from Samsonite, filled with gifts from event and corporate sponsors including The CEO MagazinePEXAMacquarieKaren Millen, and GoodnessMe Box, to name a few.

During the conference, FEW hosted a charity raffle prize draw, with all proceeds going directly to two important charities; the SISTER2sister youth mentoring program and the Financial Planning Association’s Future2 Foundation, which supports young Australians experiencing social, financial or physical hardship.

If you or your business would like to get involved with FEW, click here for more information.

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