Lean In Melbourne’s virtual Career Makeover event opened by playing Martin Luther King Jr speech acknowledging black lives matter discourse. 

Discrimination, adversity and the challenges of re-entering the workforce remain top of mind for many during this period of unease. 

It’s estimated that over 70,000 Australian’s have lost their jobs during COVID19 and countless more aspire to shift their job or transition careers completely. 

Over 63 Lean In participants welcomed our panelists – Marianne Roux, Sally Freeman and Simone Cheung, who brought their wealth of knowledge, leadership experience and career council to our screens. 

Each woman bravely addressed applications, career transitions, rejection and carving a seat at the table. 

“Never tell me no,” Sally Freeman declared. Her career journey began in Zoology before she ran restaurants and installed software installations which eventually led her to become a leading chartered accountant consulting across EY and KPMG. Her passion for ongoing learning and understanding what other people are doing has formed the backbone of her career journey. “Don’t tell me what I can’t do because I’m going to prove to you that I can.” 


“Job craft and find meaning in the work you do” – Simone Cheung


Pursuing your purpose can be challenging due to societal expectations and mixed messages. Cheung recommends using the Japanese Ikigai framework, which reveals the intersection between what you love, what the world needs and what you can be good at. Cheung’s sense of purpose resonates across her entrepreneurial pursuits. No matter your role, she advises participants to “job craft and find meaning in the work you do.” 

Claiming your seat at the table is a familiar challenge for many women. Cheung suggests to find your voice early within meetings to get comfortable. “Don’t try emulating others” rather, stay true to what energises you. You are part of the diversity mix, and your contributions are legitimate.



“70 percent of jobs are never advertised. The only way you can get it is through your network. If you are still posting 200 applications a month, you are not staring at the reality of how the job market works,” Marianne warns job seekers. 

“How do you demonstrate leadership, resilience adaption, agile ways?
Those are the skills to think about” – Sally Freeman

Resumes rarely reach human eyes on the first contact due to screening software. Sally cautioned participants to “Know that you will actually be screened by software, so use the words that are in the ad to get through the interview.” To keep up with AI filtering systems, focus on your LinkedIn profile and building meaningful connections. If you’re required to submit a traditional resume, ensure it’s brief and aligned with your digital profile. 

Hiring managers are looking for people with specialist skills and also the broader skills that are non-technical in nature. DO a self-audit about your career developments “How do you demonstrate leadership, resilience adaption, agile ways? Those are the skills to think about,” Sally reminded us. Claiming our achievements with confidence and knowing how that drives change is what hiring managers seek in successful candidates. “They’re not looking for an expert they want to know that you are passionate and believe in the cause.” 

Research a list of organisations you would love to work with, reach out to prominent people in your area for an informational interview. When you meet with them, ask for the next introduction or email people offering your service in exchange for experience. Attend networking events, comment on LinkedIn posts and build your network with intention. 

Be helpful to others in small ways because they will also want to be helpful to you. 


Despite the accolades and credentials, each of the speakers agreed that rejection is inevitable. 

“Don’t think of it as rejection, have the confidence to know it mutually wasn’t the right fit in this instance,” Sally suggests.  

Marianne furthered this point by reminding Lean In members that “eventually the next thing that came along was so much better for you. You really have to trust that process, that it’s not personal, and when a door closes others open. Also never have your eggs in one basket and be very aware of your environment”.

Rejection can happen internally at workplaces you once enjoyed. Sally reminded Lean In participants to rise above workplaces that no longer appreciate your skill set; “Whenever you get that knock of I’m going to work and I’m not happy..or…If you are not growing or making an impact, then start to look elsewhere.” Knowing your worth and standing by it against all the odds is a powerful career decision.



COVID19 is the chance to close the pay gap, rethink remote work and the opportunity to push economic shifts. Shifts in retail, arts, travel, recreational services and consumer goods have all been impacted. While, teaching, healthcare and childcare have seen a spike in demand. The crisis is unlikely to change the fundamental make of these industries; however, they are likely to evolve and focus on virtual delivery of services.


“You really have to trust that process, that it’s not personal, and when a door closes others open. – Marianne Roux

The introduction of AI has minimised the relevance of our knowledge which is estimated to last 2 – 5 years before technology deems this information as outdated. Transferable skills are paramount in the longevity and success of your career. Always self-learn, re-skill and adapt your knowledge to sustain your career evolution. 

The break rooms opened up conversations and connections. The expert advice each participant gleamed was instantly implemented as we exchanged LinkedIn details and shared our non-linear career journeys. 

Despite the current climate, there was a rising sense of hope in the future. Collectively we can aspire towards a brighter, inclusive new normal. 

To borrow Roux’s words; your career is a “work-life adventure,” why not lead with courage and makeover your career today?



  • Use Ikigai to uncover your purpose
  • Pursue your curiosity and embrace your career as an adventure. 
  • Do a self-audit of your career developments with an emphasis on how you’ve demonstrated soft and hard skills to drive positive change
  • Continue to evolve your skills to stay ahead of the technology
  • Don’t take rejection personally
  • When you’re networking don’t stop there, ask for more networks to build your network
  • Job craft your role to match your purpose
  • Know your worth and don’t undercharge your services.
  • Have the courage to claim your seat at the table



If you’re a Lean In Melbourne member and are subscribed to our newsletter you’ll have received a link to listen to the main panel session. 


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