Tonight I was privileged to attend the Chamber's first Emerald Leadership Program event, kindly hosted by Grant Thornton in Sydney.
I've had some really memorable moments as your CEO from Prime Ministers at lunch to Awards winners and beyond but tonight was something really special that I will keep with me.
We started on a journey to build female participation in the Chamber a few years ago and we triaged a number of initiatives that would have made decent window dressing but not given us the grass roots, authentic participation we saw tonight. We didn't go for the quick win, we invested in a sustainable pathway to recognise our female role models while building support for our emerging female leaders. We funded it ourselves and we think it's been a great investment.
Tonight, I think we found the touchstone and gathered an amazing group of high performing female leaders and those who will be so, as our Consul General Jane Connolly said, "our future CEOs, Nobel prize winners" and everything else we can imagine.
Julie-Anne Hazlett shared her amazing story of achievement. Challenge. Goal. Achievement and then look for the next challenge. Just so impressive in terms of a life fully lived and all this from the girl who lived next door to one of my, sadly departed, best mates at school. I'm pretty sure that Andy was looking down at me with a very disappointed look on his face when I said I couldn't go for dinner after we wrapped up and had to go to the airport instead. Next time around Mr Wilson!
Tonight was the first public showing of a piece of work that many have contributed to over many months. I remember very well a phone call to Emma Hannigan who hosted tonight and - with Helen Waldron - chairs our Emerald Kin leadership group before Christmas. I was doing my best to be professional about how a really well delivered female leadership program would be a positive development. Eventually our Tyrone and Donegal politeness slipped away and I apologise then and now to Emma for my strident "we just have to make this happen, no excuses, let's get this done" remarks.
We had great support from our NSW President John McQuaid to pilot in Sydney and Amy Taggart and Ryan McClenaghan from the Sydney Committee got four square behind it. Special mention to Ryan for his efforts in bringing our friends from the Sydney Rose into the conversation and engaging the many fantastic community groups in Sydney who've supported this initiative.
Tonight was just another step on the journey, be part of the next chapter of a great story and help us bring this program to a wider audience.