I recently undertook the task of being a judge for the Women in Finance Awards. To be honest, at the time, it was hours of work assessing entries and a day of phone calls with finalists. It was a squeeze into an already packed schedule, which I must admit I did grumble a little about at the time.
But then a funny thing happened. I started reading the submissions and talking to the finalists, and then I realised something. The passion, dedication and extreme smarts so many of these people had put into their work was inspiring.
Even better, I attended the awards night (along with 1000 others) with my friend Connie Mckeage, who was nominated for CEO of the Year (a category I can assure you I did not judge!). Now I have experienced first-hand the work, dedication and wisdom Connie has. Her business, OneVue, acquired No More Practice Education earlier this year. I have seen the hours Connie puts in (more than anyone I know) the care she takes with the little things, the way she knows the names of more than 300 people that work for OneVue, and the intense drive she has to grow the business and serve the market as the name behind many of the biggest brands in the market.
She does not seek publicity or accolades (someone else nominated her for the award), and she has happily said her job is to make other businesses and people shine. She is someone who does not need an award to know how much she has achieved.
But then something amazing happened on the night. Connie did win, it did matter, and she delivered a speech that was powerful - about inclusion, and about driving change. It made an impact and the room was buzzing. And I saw Connie connect with people –both men and women, with her message of the need for leaders to change the dynamics of our industry, one individual at a time.
The winner of the Fintech of the Year award, Catriona Wallace, CEO of Flamingo AI said she was only the second woman to list a Fintech company on the Australian Stock Exchange. And it was hard (she said something far more descriptive, but I won’t affect the spam filters to repeat it!). And then she said something equally powerful – that the first to do so was Connie. Catriona had looked up to Connie and she then called Connie to the stage to share her award with her. Catriona recognised the importance of creating positive role models, role models not focused on why something could not be achieved but rather women celebrating what has been achieved.
In that moment I realised how important it was to have fearless leadership that others can follow. To be an example of what can be done, rather than what cannot. And how this should be celebrated so that others can witness it, and one day have the courage to follow.
So I commend Momentum Media for hosting these awards and what they represent. While I am lucky enough to work first hand with someone of Connie’s calibre, so many are not. To highlight and celebrate great leadership is something we need to do more of as we rebuild our industry out of the ashes of the Royal Commission.
Until next time,
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