Huyen has an amazing story. Growing up dirt poor in Vietnam before the country opened up in the 80’s, there were times her parents didn’t know how they would get food on the table. But once the country opened up, she and her siblings watched their parents try one new business idea after another, until they finally landed on a car dealership and they are now extremely successful business owners. But Huyen was hungry to try new countries and so after finishing school, and after jumping through a lot of hoops, she secured a place at a prestigious university in the USA and did her MBA.
After completing her MBA over there, she knew she didn’t want to stay in the US, and having had a couple of tourist trips to Australia, she decided to emigrate here. Landing with only her suitcases and a bit of money, she enrolled in another MBA in order to get a student visa. So, by the time she was in her late 20’s, she had two MBAs and knew she wanted to start a digital marketing agency. Not a small one, the biggest in Australia! She also identified a lucrative gap in the market – marketing for Doctors (specifically, cosmetic surgeons) and so her second digital marketing agency was born (the other one is still going and focuses on SEO).
Huyen has some great advice about hard work, and offers a massive dose of inspiration. Nothing was going to stop this women so she is definitely one to watch!
Anoushka has had a huge career for a woman that grew up and was educated in Mauritius. With a high achieving family, Anoushka’s first job was to run a huge event in Mauritius and she learned a lot from it. Including not to bite off more than you can chew!! From this stressful and eye opening experience, Anoushka wasn’t put off, she loved business and so after setting off to China to visit her brother who was finishing a medical degree, she landed a job around the time of the Beijing Olympics, just as the country was opening up.
After landing in Australia with her new husband after eleven years in China, Anoushka set up her first business soon after, Global CQ. Just as many organisations focus on EQ (Emotional Intelligence), she wanted to focus on cultural inclusivity, especially as she knows how multicultural it is here and the importance of assimilation. Anouska’s story is totally inspiring as she has worked in the corporate sector with huge success, as well as heading up her own company. Her recent appointment as CEO of the Australia-India Chamber of Commerce is a testament to her business acumen and leadership skills. Plus, she’s super nice and full of stories!
Nicole loves events! Her description of being born on the kitchen floor of her parents’ catering company says it all really. Her grandparents and parents were in catering and so Nicole grew up surrounded by events. It wasn’t a huge leap for her to want to set up her own events company at a young age, even though she says she won a client and had NO idea about the ins and outs of organising big events, but winged it and learned on the job!
After running all sorts of events for big, innovative tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and more, Nicole was asked to set up an event overseas, and that’s what sparked the idea for her new baby Eventbuzz360. It sprang from not being able to easily find suppliers for everything she needed for an event she was asked to create in Hong Kong with very little notice. She realised that whether you are running an event here in Australia or overseas, you need to be able to find reliable services from venues, catering and flowers through to speakers, videographers and lighting experts. Eventbuzz360 is for everyone in the industry and when you listen to Nicole’s story you will realise it’s destined for success!
Scarlett Vespa, transformation coach, brand-maker and founder of The Coaching Agency created her business to develop a community and bring people together. Scarlett is a curator of experts and information that helps people be better versions of themselves.
She talks about learning from her own experiences over 25 years, and the importance of the conscious mind; which enables us to take responsibility, be present of the choices we make and be responsive rather than reactive in our decisions.
After working within a successful visual production career and building a number of businesses, Scartett found more success after falling in love with herself as it was then that she truly felt free. She realised that no matter the challenges she experienced in her life, she would always have her own mind, spirit and sense of self. With this realisation, she was inspired to learn new things, like website development (when in its infancy) and graphic design. Through this, she brought her creative side to life by creating brands. Scarlett’s recipe for success in business is about being authentic, upfront and transparent about your agenda; listening to your body and mind; and being present.
Melissa Lewis, Executive Presence Mentor and founder of Activator SHEeo and The Ascension Group, is a powerhouse in helping women commercialise themselves in male dominated environments, breaking through the glass ceiling and being recognised as prospects for promotion. How are you perceived versus your intention? Often there’s a disconnect and Melissa has recognised over the course of her career within global commercial real estate and then as founder of her businesses, that there are so many amazing, intelligent, talented women who are being overlooked for promotions because they are misunderstood and undervalued.
Melissa saw a gap in the market here about helping women to finesse their image, external presence, personal brand and identifying each woman’s unique values on an individual basis. She talks about the ‘Presence Quotient’; you need to have presence to have influence, and Melissa helps women realise their self worth, how great they are and the strategies they need to employ to advance ahead.
Always entrepreneurial and commercial, Melissa started her journey at the ripe old age of 11 ½ years old (listen to the story – it’s a good one)! She finds that to be successful in business, you need to love what you do, have lots of get-up-and-go, practise balance and walk your own talk.
Wow! Bri Williams, behavioural expert, author and the founder of People Patterns is a really interesting and clever woman. Having studied a double degree in accounting and psychology, Bri started out her career in corporate finance for the likes of Coca Cola Amatil, moving into HR whilst there – clearly drawn to the psychology and human side of things in that department – and ended up product managing a published book and loving the creative process. She parlayed this experience into a product manager role with Sensis. It was during Bri’s corporate career that she identified the importance of quality, persuasive language and engagements with customers, target audience and staff alike. It’s all about behavioural science, and Bri bridges the gap between academia and what is actually pragmatic and practical in business situations.
Having been in business for 10 years and helping SMEs and government organisation be more persuasive, Bri talks about the importance of valuing yourself. She also mentions that if you do in fact work for free, clients are less likely to implement it any way as there’s no skin in the game for them. Know your worth, contextualise your value with a product ladder or sales funnel and create habits for effectiveness.
Stella Gianotto is the founder of Brand For Brands, she’s also a retail futurist and branding expert and her story is very inspiring. From growing up in a very traditional Italian family, Stella was inspired to pursue a career from an early age. In fact, she was an entrepreneurial whizz even in school! Soon after leaving, and having worked in a couple of agencies, Stella decided to go out on her own. Her business was established in the late nineties and she has had quite a few ups and downs since then!
At the age of 40, Stella had a much-loved, and longed for child, and that changed everything. Initially moving from Sydney to the Hunter Valley, and with her younger sister Joanna now involved in the business, Stella soon realised it wasn’t working and for the last few years she has been back in Sydney, building up her successful business, killing it in the media with her PR campaigns and with a large group of clients that loves what she does. Listen and learn. Her tip for business owners is a doozy!
Fran is a super interesting woman. Having grown up in a family of introverts, she was always outgoing and loved being with people. Starting her career in hospitality, she talks about the AMAZING customer service ethic at the Ritz Carlton group and how innovative it was. It really created a lasting impression on her, which she took with her to her next job in sales. Fran talks about how she fell in love with sales and discovered she was good at it. Win-win!
After her first child was born, she decided to start consulting to sales teams via her business Metisan, but with the birth of her second child, she went ‘all out’ and created an online training platform called Kiss To Sell which she timed to launch just after the birth. Not such a good idea!! Fran is really one of the nicest, and smartest, women you could meet. Get inspired!
Joyce Watts is the Founder of Victoria’s biggest parenting blog, TOT:HOT OR NOT with over 1.4 million page views last year!) and a couple of cycling product and blog sites, but the pandemic has given her the time to review her businesses, and decide to start a new one called Bright Smart.
She did it in only 6 weeks, from concept to launch, and she took people along with her as she went through the various steps from registering a domain, to working out her keywords for SEO, to employing a designer for her logo and so on. It was a brilliant marketing move! This interview is choc-a-bloc full of tips, advice and learnings from one of the smartest women I know. Not only will you know a lot more, you’ll love her story about dropping out of her law career through to today, and the launch of Bright Smart.
Jane Mara’s career as an intuitive intelligence expert, speaker and author of two books on the subject, started in advertising land. After an illustrious start, working as a media buyer for some of the biggest ad agencies in Australia (and the world), she went to the ‘client side’ and continued to run marketing departments for some of the big banks. It was only when she mentioned the importance of ‘gut instinct’ and that people should be paying attention to it in business, and her suggestion was responded to with derision and lack of understanding, that she decided it was time to go out on her own.
She talks about her adventures along the way, and how using intuition and gut instinct has helped her, and her clients, in their lives.