Australia Day 5 – Key Takeaways from the Week
Shocked by the number of plastic bottles that end up in the ocean every year, Brianne West channeled her outrage toward a solution. She built a luxury bath products line that’s plastic-free – shampoos, gels and soaps all in solid form: just add water. Business was brisk, but Brianne struggled with her company’s organizational structure and distribution. She needed the right people with the right skills in the right job. Her mentor, Stacey Kelly Egide, helped create an organizational chart to resolve the personnel issues. Armed with new public speaking and business management skills, Brianne will make the case for change so that she can start hiring new people to help take her company to the next level. “Working with Brianne was extraordinary,” said Stacey. “Her vision is amazing. She has the winning combination and just needed a little bit of structure.”
As Myanmar opens up, women are changing the face of business in a new economy. Khin “Chaw” Su Win is a model entrepreneur – running a successful seafarer recruitment and placement agency while paying it forward to communities that haven’t yet benefited from reform. By working with Kitty Yung, Chaw sharpened her decision-making and prioritization skills, and she will put in place new accounting and performance management procedures as a first step back home. “I want to innovate and develop the human resources capacity of Myanmar to the standard of the global market,” said Chaw. She dreams big – with future plans to open a training center to build skills and create new opportunities for the seafarer workforce.
Linh Nguyen’s organization supports the civil society sector in Vietnam working to promote the rights of marginalized groups such as women, children and people with disabilities. Financial stability has been an ongoing challenge, so Joanna Doolan helped her create a strategy for applying to international aid and governmental organizations to ensure the organization’s sustainable future. Linh’s goal is for her NGO to lead change in Vietnam and to create a more accountable and equitable society – one step at a time. “Vietnam was a country with no voice,” said Linh. “But the people joined their voices together and demanded change. I am a changemaker.”
Working effectively and making the right business decisions are Ronna Pastorizo-Sekiguchi’s key takeaways for her creative design and communications studio in Fiji. The first thing on the list is a full debrief with entire team to share in some of the training and skills-building practiced throughout the week. Janet Lamkin, Ronna’s mentor, offered ideas for putting new structures in place that will empower everyone in the company to work as a team. Ronna’s infectious energy and enthusiasm drive her networking savvy, and she made several connections in Australia which will help expand her client base in the coming year. “These last five days have been extraordinary,” said Janet. On Ronna’s plan to build a set of routines for her staff, she added, “Structure will set her free.”
Jill Santos-Cua came to the Global Ambassadors Program overcommitted and stretched too thin. Working with mentor Lauren Anderson, Jill has a new plan for better time management in her business and personal life. Lauren also helped Jill think through some difficult organizational structure issues. Returning home to the Philippines, Jill is going to focus more on her non-profit foundation and empower others in her accounting firm to make decisions in her absence. “My mentor is an iron lady,” said Jill. “She made me do things right away. I found out that there is power in mentoriship transformed into leadership.”
“In Australia, investment in women has a long way to go and investment in indigenous women in business is unheard of,” said Kia Dowell, head of an award-winning strategic agency which combines business, human behavior and Australian Aboriginal knowledge systems to discover innovative solutions for organization, human and social challenges. “To be in a room with such powerful and valuable women is overwhelming.” Although Kia’s business and that of her mentor Raegan Moya-Jones couldn’t have been more different, they worked well together, identifying points of constraint and mapping a path to streamlining operations and reallocating resources to be positioned to scale.
Hoa Nguyen grew up in a family of six daughters in Vietnam. Resources were limited, and she saw firsthand how the cards were stacked against women and girls in her community. She felt that she had to prove she was as worthy as a boy, and that was a driving force behind her success. As Oxfam Vietnam’s deputy director, Hoa tapped in to Margaret Lyng’s human resources expertise at just the right time. Aligning staff around a new strategic plan was Hoa’s primary challenge. “We tend to do things around people,” said Margaret. “So we need to step back and make the transition to operating on a strategic level.” Hoa now has a plan to move forward, focused on securing buy-in from various teams and developing a coherent operational plan.
Thu “Hue” Nguyen built a 15-year track record protecting coastal communities of Vietnam as founder and CEO of Marinelife Conservation and Community Development (MCD). Her challenge in Sydney was to work with mentor Kim Kingsley on restructuring the organization and developing a succession plan for empowering her management team to take on more responsibility. “I have to get out of my comfort zone,” said Hue, “and create new alliances with funders and entrepreneurs.” Hue will be freed up to focus on innovating new ways to support income streams for women along the coast, expand access to education and to share the impact of MCD through storytelling.
Van Anh Nguyen’s challenge was stepping outside of her role as a leading advocate for women and children in Vietnam, take stock of her NGO’s donor base and chart a course toward sustainability. With her mentor, Amanda Ellis, she assessed the dwindling resources available and began an indexing of global funders of domestic violence and gender-based violence programs. “Amanda was very patient with me,” said Van Anh. “I have challenges with language and numbers – I don’t know anything about money.” She will head home with new tools for strategic planning and financial management, and the mentees from her country and across the region pledged to provide support and connections.
Moale “Mo” Vagikapi arrived in Sydney with a business plan she knew needed work. “I’ll improve it when I get there,” she said, and that her mentor, Adi Tafuna’i, was “just the right person to help.” After a couple of days together, it became clear that Mo’s true passion was not in expanding her real estate management company. Instead, she realized she wanted to focus more on empowering women. Just a few weeks before the program, she opened a safe house for victims of violence. Adi and all of the participants with NGO backgrounds leapt at the opportunity to advise Mo on establishing a foundation to support marginalized women with counseling, medical services and horticulture training. “We have a big job ahead of us,” said Mo. “It’s like a dream come true.”