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.
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.
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.