Chamber members in the Illawarra recently heard from one of the country’s leading business figures, Elizabeth Proust AO.

Elizabeth spoke about the opportunities and challenges around how aspiring women can succeed in rising to executive leadership roles and board positions, drawing on her extensive experience, recently as Chair of the Bank of Melbourne, Nestle (Australia) and a Non Executive Director with Lendlease.

She is also the immediate past Chair of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and previously Secretary (CEO) of the Victorian Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the Victorian Attorney General’s Department and Chief Executive of the City of Melbourne.

Elizabeth is a passionate advocate and, needless to say, her experience and views carries significant weight. It was reassuring to hear her thoughts that "with the exception of the political world… this is a good time to be a female leader.

"We’ve gone beyond…the arguments of fairness and equity, and now where people have accepted it’s done business."

Elizabeth shared a few key points of advice for aspiring female executives:
  • utilise professional and private networks,
  • get a mentor! See,
  • take calculated risks, in terms of career advancement, and
  • learn to back yourself.
It was acknowledged that while the business world is making good progress there remains much to be done. This was an excellent session and we encourage all chamber members to attend similar thought leadership and networking events into the future.