Event profs on the women who inspire them every day

Ten industry professionals share what International Women's Day means to them and who inspires them in life and work.

Taking place on 8 March, International Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and an opportunity to call for accelerating gender parity.

To celebrate, we spoke to 10 event professionals about the significance of IWD and asked them to share the women who inspire them professionally and personally.

Here is what they had to say:

Roslyn McLeod OAM, founder and chair, Arinex

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s a good reminder to appreciate the gains women have made, but also the challenges that still lay in our way, for gender equality.

Who inspires you and why?

I’m not into popularity contests. The greatest value I’ve had in life is to be inspired by so many women around me, such as my sister, executive manager Lorraine Di Vito, who has always inspired me by her ability. Lately I have been inspired by the younger generation – in particular Nicole Walker who is COO of our company and has undertaken the role with confidence, patience and respect; senior project manager Nikkita Mitchell who has real grit and determination, having moved into her current role from receptionist 10 years ago; and Monique English who has contributed 15 years of wonderful things to Arinex. You can’t run a company without good people and it’s lovely to have so many with us.

Mercedes Ibbett, managing director, EVT Incentive Marketing

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

An opportunity to reflect on those inspirational women who have paved the way and remind us that we are the role models for the next gen.

Who inspires you and why?

My mum. She ran her own incentive company from the 80s while raising two young kids.

Georgie Chapman-Burgess, operations manager, Exhibitions & Trade Fairs

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

One day in a calendar year cannot comprehend the significance of women in my life or my indigenous culture; I reflect on my past, present and future on a daily basis which truly is unique to indigenous culture. I am truly humbled by praise and support from the community on this day, but I also embrace a heavy burden that women still have a long way to go in Australian society and especially that of Indigenous Women.

Who inspires you and why?

A woman who greatly inspired me was my Bardi (grandmother) Coral Kay Chapman (nee Cutmore). She survived a time in Australia where children around her were being taken away, a time where it was illegal for a black girl to attend school and young Aboriginal women could only be expected to serve their non-Indigenous keepers. She was extremely resilient, and taught me culture, life, love and the importance of family and still inspires me everyday in spirit.

Bethanie Tobin, events and operations manager, Intermedia 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

For me, it is a time to reflect on those who forged new pathways for women, celebrate our achievements and look to the possibilities ahead.

Who inspires you and why?

My mum. It’s only since having children myself that I fully appreciate all her hard work in striving for independence and equality, while working full time, raising four children and being active in many community groups.

Felicity Zadro, managing director, Zadro

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

IWD is a day to take a collective breath and to talk, think, challenge, support, identify and celebrate all the great things that women do and are in our world. It is a day to shine a light on the continuing struggles of inequality, domestic violence and discrimination that still lives on. It is a day to open up new conversations with men about what it is like to walk in our shoes.

Who inspires you and why?

Hannah Arendt – an independent thinker and philosopher, who overcame antisemitism and sexism, to become one of the most influential political scholars of the 20th Century.

Carla Offord, CEO, The Conference Shop

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

It’s the opportunity to celebrate women everywhere as we continue to lift each other up, support one another and push to end violence against women.  It is also a day to reflect on and remember all of the women who came before us that started the movement for women’s equality.

Who inspires you and why?

My niece is my inspiration. She has overcome great adversity from a young age, recovering from a stroke and several operations on her brain. Her strength, determination and perseverance is crucial to her ongoing recovery but she never gives up no matter how difficult things become.…and she has just turned 12. This keeps life in perspective for me.

Monique O’Callaghan, production director, Event Planet 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

A day to celebrate the strength of womanhood and to reflect on the women who have brought about change and those that will continue to strive for change.

Who inspires you and why?

Madame Clicquot. Her skill and innovation with wine introduced a new technique for champagne production, something still celebrated today – what’s better than an innovative woman and Champagne?

Emma Castle, writer

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

It’s an annual opportunity to raise awareness around issues that require urgent attention such as violence against women.

Who inspires you and why?

My bad ass Nanna, all the way. She overcame significant childhood trauma in the foster care system only to move to Australia with five children under five. She was a real goer – always active and involved in the community – and sang opera until she was in her 80s.

Jessica Kauffman, senior account manager, Zadro

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

IWD gives us a chance to talk without the bias. It is an opportunity to recognise (and remind) that bringing about equality and diversity isn’t any one person’s job.

Who inspires you and why?

This question is always hard! I picked a few….

Isobelle Carmody – I’ve been reading her books for a long time, her stories always have strong heroines who aren’t damsels in distress, but the Superwoman of their own journey. Alyssa Milano – she is proactive, passionate and not afraid to call out the ignorance of others, particularly when it comes to women’s rights. Angel Strawbridge – because she dared to take a chance and finds joy in everything. And of course all the strong, driven women I have the pleasure to work with at Zadro.

Bree Wailes, founder, We Surge

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

IWD to me, is an opportunity to promote gender equality in the workplace on an executive level. We need to see more women leaders in the hospitality industry and through education, encouragement and support – we can make this happen.

Who inspires you and why?

Janine Allis is an inspiration. Her dedication and hard work to building her businesses from scratch is impressive, but what I appreciate most are her honesty and truths around the struggles and reality of what it takes to build an empire – as a woman – not a superwoman.

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