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On International Women's Day, women leaders among FACCI Patron members speak up to #InspireAction.


FACCI has invited the women leaders in its community to share their personal journeys on the occasion of 8 March.

On International Women's Day, FACCI is giving voice to women leaders among its Patron members to #InspireAction.

These C-Level women leaders are actively shaping our collective future, and we've invited them to share their personal journeys as leaders to ignite action and empowerment. Their insights are a celebration of women's achievements and a call for gender equality and diversity in workplaces. 

Discover their advice on how to navigate a career in the world of residual stereotypes.

Karine Delvallée

FACCI Federal President and CEO, BNP PARIBAS Australia and New Zealand

"As a woman navigating my career, the leadership quotation by John C Maxwell really resonates with me - “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”

Like a captain adjusting sails to the wind, I embrace challenges and opportunities, steering my path with resilience. Regardless of headwinds or tailwinds, it’s our reactions that shape our journey. With readiness to set sail, I believe the world is ripe with possibility for women leaders."

Catherine Carlyon

Country Manager, Australia, AXA XL

"I’m the Country Leader for AXA XL Australia. We’re a commercial Insurance business, which has a history of being a male dominated industry. It’s changing – but there is a legacy to work through. In our organization we have a range of policies and initiatives to promote gender balance, foster a more inclusive work environment, and ensure a diverse organization. This includes:  

  • A requirement for a diverse slate of candidates – All hiring managers must have 50% of women on their short list of finalists. We are looking to apply the same principle to our succession planning for leadership and key roles as well – and this should help ensure that we are focused on talent development in the right areas to support those succession plans; 
  • Flexible and hybrid working policies;
  • Training and mentoring programs that focus on development for historically under-represented groups; 
  • Annual compensation benchmarking and analysis including a gender comparison to ensure that any anomalies are identified and corrected;
  • Reviewing job descriptions to ensure that they use gender neutral language and language that is appealing to a diverse audience (some words like “strong” have a tendency to appeal more to men than women).

As a female leader I find that unconscious bias still exists. For example, when I go out to conferences or other forum where there are a lot of new faces, if I am with a man, I sometimes find that people will defer in the first instance to introduce themselves to the man first, possibly assuming I am the more junior person accompanying a colleague to an event. There can be an element of surprise when I introduce myself, or my colleague introduces me as their leader. 

Ultimately, I am passionate about inclusion and diversity. I believe that everybody is a unique individual and should feel able to bring themselves to work. As a society, an industry, and an organization I want to support talented individuals – regardless of gender or background – and by doing so to foster diversity and drive better outcomes, whichever lens you look at it through."

Janie Wittey

Senior Country Manager & CEO, Natixis CIB Australia

Happy International women’s day – as we take time to celebrate on the achievements of women in business and society, as leaders we need to continue to be focused on achieving equality in our teams, support our rising talent, provide mentoring programs and networking opportunities that foster inclusion.  I would encourage women “to count herself in” as your voice matters, for leaders I ask that you embrace the value of diverse teams, as it boosts our companies intellectual potential drawing on the skills and perspective of diverse talent, leads to stronger engagement and is better for business and the communities we serve”.

Aurelia Vo Dinh

Managing Director Head of Acquisition Finance and Australia EXCO member, Natixis CIB Australia

"Happy International Women’s Day. When I look back at what the world was 20 years ago when I started my career, a lot has changed - we can collectively be proud and there is definitely much to celebrate. It does not mean the journey is over yet. I would encourage women to seek advice and mentoring from men and women and not to be afraid to shine! But there is only so much one can do. It remains with companies to have clear (and punitive if not met) targets and KPIs to measure gender equality, especially in leadership roles. Working towards diversity in teams is working towards a better and more efficient workplace – diversity is an asset!”

Pascale Quester

Vice-Chancellor & President, Swinburne University of Technology

"Most of the challenges I have met were not gender specific: How to manage a multimillion-dollar operation, lead a large workforce, steer an organisational culture towards innovation and excellence, develop a strategic plan or be the ambassador of your organisation on a global stage be done by a good leader, man, or woman. However, I have noticed that people seem to expect different leadership traits in women. Being decisive, direct in my communications, willing to take unpopular decisions and take risk always seems to be unexpected by others because I am a woman.

My general advice to future women leaders is to completely ignore gender stereotypes. Whoever has an issue with women in charge, it is their problem, not ours. But the best and most precious advice for women at work is to quit trying to be loved. The currency women need to succeed is respect. Love is precious but it must come from family and friends. At work, it is your expertise and leadership that count. Don’t give in to the emotional blackmail women are always subjected to.

Actions and behaviour are much more potent than words. My executive team is 50% female because talent is equally distributed. And it goes both ways. I would not favour a team that is overly female any more than I would tolerate one that is male dominated. That is the true spirit of equity and diversity. In my workplace it also means raising the status of education where women often excel, to equal that of research, where men tend to dominate for historical reasons. Contributions do not have to be the same to be equally valued and celebrated. At my university, we have established a Gender Equity Action Plan and have a specific focus for women in STEM. We collect data and hold ourselves accountable for delivering true parity in everything we do."

Snehal Anuj

Vice President and General Manager, bioMerieux ANZ

"I credit much of my success to another significant woman in my life, my late mother. Growing up in a modest household, I was encouraged by her to dream big, persevere, and give my all-in pursuit of my goals.

Unfortunately, in my early twenties, I fell a victim to domestic violence from the family I was soon to be married into. The world turned upside down. Determined not to give up, I embarked on a new journey, by moving to Australia. I embraced every opportunity that came my way, challenged myself to learn new skills and persisted through difficult times.

From early childhood, I was often recognised as a natural female leader. While we have come a long way in giving women equal opportunities, there are definite obstacles to overcome. I urge other aspiring women to vision their goals and view any obstacles as learning opportunities. We are inherently adaptable and capable of learning endless new skills. Think about how our ancestors evolved! Believe in yourself. On days when in doubt, be kind to yourself by reflecting on things you have overcome or achieved. You must be resilient and learn from past experiences instead of letting them be a setback for your future success.

Whilst my mother shaped my younger years, it is thanks to the unwavering support and encouragement of my husband that I have been able to step into the current executive leadership role. I am also fortunate to work in an organisation that believes in giving women equal opportunities and encourages them to step into leadership roles. I strongly encourage other women to network within and outside the organisation to showcase the unique set of skills you bring. Finding mentors, advisors and peers to lean on in my journey to executive leadership has definitely helped in bouncing thoughts, seeking advise when in doubt and getting the encouragement to keep going when need. I encourage others to find the same.

In essence, the journey I have taken, from the humble beginnings to my current role, has been a testament to the strength of women and the power of resilience. My mother instilled in me the belief that no dream is too big and no obstacle too great to overcome. Despite the challenges I faced, I refused to be defined by them, instead choosing to carve my own path towards success. And in doing so, I have come to realise the importance of surrounding oneself with supportive individuals who champion one's aspirations. Whether it is the unwavering love of my late mother, the steadfast support of my husband, or the inclusive environment fostered by my workplace, each has played a pivotal role in shaping my journey. As I continue to rise through the ranks of leadership, I remain committed to paying it forward, advocating for women's empowerment, and ensuring that every aspiring woman knows that her dreams are valid and achievable. Together, let us pave the way for a future where gender equality isn't just a goal but a reality."


Special thanks to these inspiring women leaders from FACCI Community for their insightful quotes and continuous support!

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