Monday, September 23, 2013

Women in Focus ... I am grateful

Pic courtesy Women in Focus

Two weeks ago I attended the CBA’s Women in Focus Conference  in Port Douglas. The day I received the invitation to participate I was grateful, intrigued and excited all in one. That’s quite a positive mix of emotions for one day, wouldn’t you say?

I assumed the invitation was extended to me because of a RAWomen  webinar session I’d previously done with Karen James (GM of Women in Focus, also of CEO Cook Off fame), and Catriona Wallace (CEO, Fifth Quadrant). If you missed it you can watch on demand here

Having already engaged in the political and the personal with Karen and Catriona on-line, I was enthusiastic about joining other like-minded women to share their positive stories of success in business, and to determine how we could support each other’s personal and professional goals. Even with backgrounds ranging from legal to pharmaceuticals, health and well-being to farming, data mining to philanthropy, I found it possible to connect on some level with most of the women I met. Sometimes it was just sharing the issue of frizzy-humidity hair in tropical QLD!

I am still working through my many long lists of TO DO’S that the conference created for me (okay I created the lists myself), but today I wanted to share some of my gratefuls about my time with this extraordinary group of women from around the country.

NEW FRIENDS: Developing new friendships is not why most of us go to professional events, but it was hard to walk away from this gathering having not only made professional contacts but also new friends. I need to mention specifically here Karan White from Pod Legal who has been an avid supporter of mine on Twitter in recent months, and while me may share some professional work in the future, her sistahood is what I am most grateful for today.

DEADLY ARTISTS: Speaking of sistahood, I was proud to see the artwork of two deadly Aboriginal women featured as part of the conference. Joanne Nasir  (pictured above) from Darwin was the creator of the ‘starfish’ rock each delegate received (see mine pictured below), and Bibi Barba from Roma Queensland. It was great to see Bibi’s art as gifts for presenters. Be sure and check out her work here for your own enjoyment. 

NEW CONNECTIONS: Aside from new friends and deadly sistas, other connections that will cross personal /professional are what I have taken away also. Cathy Reid (has already blogged for me here  about her gratefuls), Alexx Stuart (will appear here shortly), Vicki Fitzgibbon and Louise Curtis (the original CBA WIF poster girl, see below) are all now in my thoughts and I hope to be able to share my skills – and a few cuppas or cocktails -with them in the future.

INSPIRATION: I’m rarely short of inspiration, but the WIF conference left me brimming with new ideas, a greater sense of possibilities and a better understanding of my own professional potential. And for that I am grateful. My time there listening to speakers like Claudia Batten, Victoria Ransom, Andy Lark, Debra Cerasa, Ronni Kahn  and Kim McKay , left me in awe for the strong, staunch women out there. Having spent most of my life working on the NFP sector within community organisations, as well as doing a lot of ‘love jobs’ still, I was also pleased to listen to a panel about being socially conscious in business.

FOCUS: I am grateful for the time to sit, listen, learn, engage, share and reflect on my professional goals, and just to FOCUS on what is needed to grow my own business. I may be a sole trader, managed by and manager of none, I am still a businesswoman motivated by making change. I also have bills to pay, so being able to manage my business is just every day life. People who work for themselves will understand that taking time to focus on your own life and dreams is a luxury, especially when my deadlines and travel for work get in the way. I remain grateful for the time dedicated over the two days to allow me to considered how I might focus on redefining my own “Anita Heiss” brand, and where I might see my professional life head in 2014 and beyond.

INFORMATION: From learning about successful business models here and abroad, to how to consider being well-thy, and the importance of social media in connecting with my clients – i.e. audiences internationally – I was given the tools to move forword through information sharing. Most importantly for me, as someone who is an Ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation  and Advocate for the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence, I was impressed to learn about the various community programs run by the CBA. These include the Community Grants Program  and support for Indigenous Youth to name a few. I was also impressed to learn that the CBA has raised over $2m through staff donations alone for community projects. Awesome!


ROLE MODELS: I am grateful for the women I consider to be role models to me and thank them for their support and most importantly, their good humour. Huge shout out to Catriona Wallace (pictured above) and Karen James (below middle) for taking me under your powerful wings.

ENVIRONMENT: Finally, if you’re going to be working from 8am-10pm (networking over dinner is work!) then you may as well be doing it at QT, Port Douglas.  The places adds new meaning to the phrase working-paradise. Thank you to all the staff who took care of us, fed and watered us.

Finally, thank you to the entire Women in Focus team: Karen, Katie, Ana, Chelsea, Kelly, Melynder, Nicole, Ruth, Vanessa and Lauren. 

I'd also like to thank Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, UTS for supporting my travel to the conference.

I am forever grateful.


Anonymous said...

Bravo!! All I can say is that you are incredible!! :)
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Annabel said...

Sounds like an inspiring couple of days. It is true that taking time out of the everyday to do some long-term planning is a luxury we often deny ourselves - it's great that you took the time to do it.

Dr Anita Heiss said...

So true Annabel, and as a writer you'd know that we're always focusing on the deadline etc. Time out to think is a true luxury. I need to get back to my life-coaching ways of mapping out some breaks between the work as well.
Hope your own writing is coming along.

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