On April, 20th, 2018, Melbourne Lean In facilitated a discussion with four esteemed women from diverse background to hear their journeys of success. The event was attended by more than 120 women interested in learning from their experiences.

Speakers on the night were :

–      Michele Levine – CEO of Roy Morgan Research

–      Michelle Redfern –  Founder of Advancing Women and Co-Founder of the social enterprise CDW (Culturally Diverse Women)

–      Natalie Davey –  General Manager Marketing & Digital for GM Holden

–      Nithya Solomon – Executive Lead Innovation, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth)

The speakers delved in to their childhoods, motivation, role models, mentors, sponsors, views on gender diversity, motherhood and a range of other topics.

Common themes from their stories were:

–      Seizing the opportunity

–      Not being afraid to give it a go

–      Breaking rules

–      Finding enablers and rule breakers in your organisation and pairing with them

Key discussion points included:


–      Leadership is not about charisma. It is not about being someone who makes decisions without thinking too much about consequences. Leadership is not one dimensional.

–      To be a good leader you have to understand your own privilege and the disadvantages faced by others. Being in a leadership position gives you the power to bring people forward and create a better/more inclusive society.

Role of a mentor and a sponsor:


–      You can find a long term mentor but you can also find a mentor to fill skills gap you may have.

–      You don’t need to have a chemistry with your mentor but you do need a mentor to help you advance. Be strategic about getting a mentor.


–      A sponsor is someone who advocates for you and actively brings you to the table to endorse. A sponsor brings you opportunities when you are not in the room

–      Sponsorship is not nurturing but it’s about enabling someone to achieve desired results.

Influencing diversity at work:

–      Diversity and inclusion should be part of corporate strategy. Look at diversity in a broader way. Diversity is not just about men and women. It can be gender, ethnic or based on a variety of other factors.

–      What gets measured, gets managed. Have good operating rhythm and due diligence around HR data to understand what is going on at every level.

–      In a male dominated industry, develop programs to teach male managers how how to manage female team members. Many have never had to manage female team members.

–      Raise awareness amongst men on the acceptability for them to take part time roles

–      Start programs to develop women in Leadership

Being empowered in remuneration negotiation:

 –      Find the credentials that people value and use those to drive salary negotiations

–      You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Women too often don’t ask. Have the confidence to ask and put forward a compelling case in salary negotiation.

–      Have the confidence to speak up. Know your worth and have the courage to ask for what is important.

Advice for transitioning back in to career after having children :

–      Remember child bearing is gendered. Child-rearing is not.

–      Choose your partner well.

–      If you decide to have both career and children, then define what it mean to have it all.

–      Taking a one-year maternity break might separate you from a company strategy. Think about returning to work part time in 6 months if that option is suitable. This will make your transition easy and keep you connected with your organisation.

–      When you work part time, you need to be specific about what can be achieved in the time you have. Learn to delegate and prioritise. Think about what is critical, absolutely essential and also what you can let go.

–      Learn to say no

Thanks to our event sponsor Roy Morgan for the wonderful venue and photographer Grace Lye from Just Graced for the beautiful pictures.

You can check upcoming event organised by Melbourne Lean In here : Achieving Better Negotiation Outcomes

Lean In Melbourne is a group for the women in Victoria,Australia to meet,learn & grow together. Lean In mission is to empower women to achieve their ambitions

Join our chapter to network with a professional group of women and to discuss matters important to women: https://leanincircles.org/chapter/melbourne-chapter

Theme for this event was inspired by the global movement #LeanInTogether. Learn more about the #LeanInTogether in below video :

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