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Networking diary: Chief Executive Women

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Networking diary: Chief Executive Women

Above: At the CEW dinner with CEO of The Heat Group, Gillian Franklin, one of my earliest mentors.

Last Wednesday evening I attended the annual Chief Executive Women dinner as a guest of Sydney Airports executive Shelley Roberts. The invitation was one of three that I received to attend what is arguably the key event for corporate female leaders in Australia each year.

Above: The Westin Ballroom is full of impressive corporate female leaders and some male champions of change.
Above: The Westin Ballroom is full of impressive corporate female leaders and some male champions of change.

All three invitations came as the result of networking. I had met Shelley at the previous CEW event I attended as a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Stockland Chairman Graham Bradley, who had been my mentor for the past 12 months, introduced me to one of his former mentees Shelley. That same evening sparked six other invitations to meet for coffee and connect.

The CEW dinner’s official attraction was keynote speaker Group CEO of Singtel, Chua Sock Koong. However it was also the best opportunity all year to connect with the who’s who of business leadership. I went home with a dozen business cards from high-achieving women who were keen to meet for coffee and connect.

The CEW group’s tagline is “female leaders enabling female leaders” so the women who attend this event go there knowing that sharing in the agenda of wanting gender equality in leadership means pulling the ladder down for other women. CEW Chair Diane Smith-Gander called for 50/50 gender representation on ASX boards.

Above: CEW dinner with Sydney Airport's executive Shelley Roberts, my host for the evening.
Above: CEW dinner with Sydney Airport’s executive Shelley Roberts, my host for the evening.

Asia’s third most powerful woman Chua Sock Koong delivered a powerful speech with a couple of key take-outs for the next generation of female leaders. She confirmed the importance of backing and being backed by other women with the statement: “behind every successful woman is a tribe of successful women”.

But perhaps even more powerful was her revelation that from the position of CFO of Singtel, she had to be encouraged to apply for the CEO role when it became available. Like many competent female leaders, she doubted herself.

So back yourself, and back other women, and fill up that leadership pipeline with incredible women.

Marina Go

Marina Go is Chair of the Wests Tigers NRL Club, a non-executive director of Autosports Group and author of the business book for women, Break Through: 20 Success Strategies for Female Leaders. She was previously GM of Hearst Australia at Bauer Media. Boss magazine named her as one of 20 True Leaders of 2016. Marina has over 25 years of leadership experience in the media industry including senior leadership roles at Fairfax, Pacific, Emap, Bauer and Private Media, where she was CEO and founder of the career women’s website Women’s Agenda. She is a director of digital startup Daily Siren, and also a member of the Advisory Boards of the Walkley Foundation, The Australian Republican Movement and Women’s Agenda.

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