International Women's Day Forum & High Tea with the International Chamber House, Melbourne

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    International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. As part of the celebrations taking place on 8 March 2017, the French Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, along with all of the chambers and business councils of International Chamber House hosted their annual International Women’s Day Forum and High Tea at the Park Hyatt for over 380 attendees.

    Sponsored by Swisse, the event explored the different paths women take to boldly reach success in business.

    Master of Ceremonies, Ms Helen Sawczak, National CEO of the Australia China Business Council, began the proceedings, welcoming guests and introducing panel moderator, Ms Michelle Dixon, Partner and CEO, Maddocks. Michelle is a highly regarded litigation lawyer and has long been a strong advocate for the progression of women into leadership.

    Michelle continued by introducing our three outstanding panellists; Ms Maggie Zhou, Ms Susan Colantuono and Ms Jo Pride.

    Maggie Zhou was appointed Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand in March 2016 for the Alibaba Group. As one of the key veterans of the company, Maggie has witnessed major developments as Alibaba has expanded its business outside of China. She has been a key contributor to the Group’s strategy to internationalise the business and its mission.

    Susan Colantuono is the CEO of Leading Women, one of the world’s premier consulting firms supporting corporate initiatives to advance women and close the leadership gender gap. She is internationally known as an expert in women’s leadership development, gender dynamics and hidden gender bias.

    Jo Pride is the CEO of Hagar Australia, an organisation committed to the protection, recovery and reintegration of women and children in Cambodia, Vietnam and Afghanistan who have suffered severe human rights abuses. She is an experienced leader, strategist and people, issues and advocacy manager.

    Throughout the panel discussion Maggie spoke about how she met Jack Ma and the influence he had on the course of her career. She began working in the hospitality industry in Hangzhou and went on to join Alibaba as employee number 48, starting her first day at the company in the year 2000, a new century, in a new industry, pursuing new opportunities.

    Susan provided insight into her own career path and highlighted the need for women to be curious, to not be shy about questioning authority and to never bring a problem forward without bringing a solution.

    Jo discussed her work with Hagar, sharing the stories of two impressive women she had worked with who had overcome severe trauma to now be living safely and happily thanks to the work of the organisation. Jo also highlighted the importance of pure grit and passion throughout her journey and the importance of having good people around her.

    The panel discussion was followed by an engaging Q&A session, touching on topics such as affirmative action and quotas, the role of businesses in changing expectations in society, professional development and mentoring, and how males can help advance women in business.

    The key takeaways from the session were:

    ·         - The idea that quotas are inconsistent with merit is incorrect – once we have true meritocracy, we won’t need quotas, however we are not there yet

    ·         - Businesses can benefit by setting targets, as this can show the areas where progress is not being made, allowing organisations to look at the broader problems

    ·        -  When looking for mentorship, identify a skill or knowledge base that you want to grow, then ask someone who can help you with that specific area

    ·         - It is important to realise that the way one sees the world may not be how others see it. There are different perceptions about the workplace and the state of the playing field for men and women. In business, understanding our mindsets will impact upon our talent decisions  

    Following the Q&A session was a prize draw for a number of gifts generously donated by Advanced Natural, Aromababy, Aspect Skincare and the Victorian Racing Club. We warmly thank our gift sponsors for taking part in the event. We also extend our thanks to Montara Wines for donating the gifts for our speakers.

    Many thanks to Swisse Wellness for being our major event sponsor for providing products for the attendee gift bags. We also kindly acknowledge Advanced Natural and Kérastase for their supplied products. 

    We would like to thank all the other participating chambers of International Chamber House who collaborated in this joint initiative, including the Australia China Business Council, the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia, the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the German Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Australia Indonesia Business Council.

    The chambers and business councils of International Chamber House very much look forward to celebrating the achievements of women in 2018.

    Take a look at our event photos here

    Source: ACBC Victoria

     

     

     

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