The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia’s (EEAA) 2019 International Women’s Day Breakfast celebrated the diverse pathways women take to succeed and called on all women not to hold back when opportunities are presented.
Chief Executive, Joyce DiMascio said it was important to put the spotlight on women in the business events industry and discuss different roads to success and the challenges faced.
“We heard from an inspiring and diverse panel of all ages and areas. Each had a unique story which was personal and inspiring,” DiMascio said.
The panel was facilitated by DiMascio and comprised:
- Dr Clara Chow, Professor, Sydney Medical School, Westmead
- The Hon Bruce Baird AM, Chairman, Business Events Sydney
- Supriya Shakya, Head of Digital, Reed Exhibitions Australia
- Lynell Peck, Director of Culinary, International Convention Centre Sydney
- Georgie Chapman-Burgess, Operations Manager, Exhibitions & Trade Fairs
The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 was #BalanceForBetter. The need for diversity in all areas of business, politics and community was a strong message from all the presenters.
EEAA President, Spiro Anemogiannis implored more women to join the EEAA board.
“Diversity brings better decision-making and better outcomes for all.” Anemogiannis said.
“I am proud that we have three women on our Board of Directors – and a woman CEO – but I urge more women to consider standing for the EEAA Board. Three out of 13 is not enough. There are many capable women ready to step-up and I encourage you to do so at our Annual General Meeting in June.” He said.
This year’s event was themed around three important issues:
- Women in Leadership
- Women Defying Stereotypes
- Women’s Heart Health and Wellbeing
These were the key messages from our speakers:
Dr Clara Chow said, “Often wives get their husbands to come in for heart checks. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen the other way around.”
When Dr Chow was on maternity leave and feeling like she already had a lot on her plate with a new baby, she was asked if she would like to join the Medical Board. She felt compelled to say “yes” and step-up as the only woman on the Board despite juggling the role with a newborn. Dr Chow is a trailblazer for women in cardiology – and in focussing on disease prevention in men and women.
Bruce Baird AM discussed the importance of diversity in politics and of having men and women collaborating with each other.
“There’s a difference [between men and women] in terms empathy. Females tend to be more concerned about the impact on people and men are more success oriented. We need both.” Baird said.
Lynell Peck detailed her illustrious career with an unconventional pathway to success. Early in her career, Peck worked alongside chefs in the Air force before joining the only international 5-star hotel in Australia at the time – the Hilton.
Following this she joined the Regent Hotel at its opening where they revered everything “French”. She is proud of her legacy of serving all New Zealand fine wines and New Zealand seafoods.
At ICC Sydney, with Chef Tony Panetta menus have been devised that use produce from smaller supplier, this has had a major impact in these communities.
Supriya Shakya said, “It is up to us [women] as well to seize opportunity. We are so conditioned to stay in our comfort zone. You don’t get to pick your own battles all the time. You must have the discipline to put your hand up and grab that opportunity.
“For me, it was all down to education and the luxury I had of being a woman who was given access to it. Education in Nepal is a luxury.”
Georgie Chapman-Burgess, winner of the inaugural Tourism Australia scholarship and Richard Geddes Young Achiever award said her mother was a role model to her while she was growing up. Georgie, a quintuplet from Glen Innes, recalls her mother studying and working full-time during her formative years. She said it set an example for her and her four siblings.
“Mum was always studying – we didn’t question it. This is what she did and it showed us the importance of an education.” Chapman-Burgess said.
This year the Association supported three charities at the event as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility commitment. There were UN Women, Fitted for Work and the Heart Foundation.
For the first time, EEAA also supported the Heart Foundation and its campaign to address women’s heart health hence the involvement of Prof Clara Chow and leaders of the Heart Foundation. DiMascio is an ambassador for it as part of its Business Women Champions of the Heart Initiative.
Fitted for Work is an organisation that helps women who have been disadvantaged return to the workforce by supplying work clothes and other support services.