I don’t know about you, but I usually find at events like this that the women who speak are regular speakers. It’s what they do and they usually do it quite well. They are used to celebrating their own successes and often are great a lobbying for themselves to be heard and to be well placed particularly in the area of company boards.
Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting many inspirational women, but the ones that stand out are those of who don’t feel the need to self-promote. Instead, they do what they do to the best of their ability and every so often people notice what a stand-out they actually are.
Earlier on in my business career, I met some fantastic women from all walks of life who excelled in the area of business. One was Julia Ross and she is a standout because whether you love her or hate her, she has achieved what most Australian business women have not. Having had the opportunity to get to know her through business, I realised that contrary to what people may think, she is no self promoter. She doesn’t hire someone to promote ‘Julia Ross’ in the papers and let’s face it, she certainly can afford to do so.
I remember hearing her story at an event that we begged her to speak at and it was truly inspirational. She started her business at 36, single, pregnant, no money and became the first woman to list her company on the ASX (and she was the sole owner at the time she went to listing). Truly admirable.
Another that comes to mind is the former CEO of Macquarie Radio Network Angela Clark. I have had many occasions where I have just sat and listened to her speak on a variety of topics and I am completely in awe of her knowledge and the way she presents herself. Now this is no frivolous, attention seeking, young, good looking CEO. Angela is an articulate CEO who is better than most men I have seen in business. On top of that, she turned Macquarie Radio Network into a highly successful publicly listed company all in her early 30’s. Now, Angela is a marketable woman – young, beautiful, smart, successful (there isn’t too much that this woman doesn’t have), yet she obviously has chosen only to speak with the media when it was absolutely in the best interests of the company and spent her time getting on with the job she had at hand. Every time I have read a story in which she has been quoted, I note that she only says what is absolutely necessary and does not do any feature pieces on herself. Being in the media, one would think her approach would be quite different.
I’m always a fan of people who are successful in male-dominated industries. Helen Jarman, a former Telstra Business Woman of the Year winner has a multi-party logistic solutions company in Melbourne and I am sure she only won this award after been forced (perhaps handcuffed and screaming!) to attend. Definitely no self-promotion going on with this dynamic business woman who has built from scratch with no investors or help from any person, the most successful multi party logistics solutions company in the Asia Pacific. She works 7 days a week and never asks for recognition. Sure the newspapers and magazines write on her, but it is definitely through no direct approach from herself. She gets on with the job of helping businesses save money through her IT solutions and consultancy as well as saving the environment through helping businesses like Apple with e-Waste. (www.infoactiv.com.au)
Not too long ago, I met a young girl who was 29 at the time, Anna Fogarty. Whilst not many people would know the name in Australia, she is very big in Europe and the US in the area of IT. She has been written up in CIO Magazine and Computerworld in the US and Europe, her software solutions (www.webandflo.com) is in many of the major banks and corporations throughout Australia. Having heard her story, I know that these write-up’s came simply from these editorials finding her solutions online. Anna is the future of women in IT. She is not one of those late nineties women who would do anything to get a story written about them and are knocking down doors to go on Govt Boards (and have been successful through their ruthless self promotion (not all – but certainly there are quite a few that I know of). I can’t wait to see where Anna takes her business. It’s a space to watch.