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Inspirational Women: Jillian Broadbent

Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

RELATED: Inspirational Women: Meredith Cranmer

Name and role:

Jillian Broadbent and Chair of Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Chair of Swiss Re Life & Health Australia Limited, director of Woolworths Ltd and Chancellor of Wollongong University.

Tell us about your role?  What is it?  What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

After 25 years working in banking and finance I moved from an executive role to take up a number of non-executive directorships. I have served in this capacity on publically listed company boards, government corporations and in the not for profit sector. As a non-executive director I participate on the boards of organisations overseeing the strategy, governance and management of them.

Your professional career has been quite diverse, how has it developed and evolved over the years?

I have been lucky to have opportunities to work in a wide range of fields. After graduating my first professional job was as an economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia. Most of my banking career was with Bankers Trust/BT Australia, which grew from 60 to 4000 employees over my 22 years there. At BT, I built a number of different departments, which was both satisfying and rewarding. Through the wide-ranging contacts I had with industry clients in building this banking business, many opportunities arose. These involved requests to apply my financial skills in the not for profit sector in particular, at the Art Gallery of NSW, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. Through my participation in these diverse activities my career developed and evolved to span positions in the public and the private sector.

When did you know this is what you wanted to do as a career?

I never really knew what I wanted to do as a career, I just responded to the opportunities with diligence, enthusiasm and capacity.

What where the stumbling blocks when you first started on your career path and how did you overcome these?

There were always stumbling blocks starting with self-doubt, exacerbated by a male dominated sector and culture. The first step to overcoming stumbling blocks is to deal with the internally generated ones, building your confidence, observing success and the learnings it carries and not wasting any of your precious energy on blame and ill will.

Did/do you have a mentor?

I did not have a mentor but I did observe successful people whom I liked and admired their approach and effectiveness. This helped me develop my own sense of self and confidence.

You have been honoured for your hard work with many accolades to your name – what to you feel has been your biggest achievement?

I feel satisfied by a number of achievements:

–  Building a successful business at BT and a positive culture, where people were enthusiastic to come to work each day, the business was profitable and the clients we serviced were appreciative and supportive;

–  Serving on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia for three terms which was beyond the term of most RBA Board members and acting to improve the wellbeing of all Australians, was a great honour; and

–  Chairing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation through a change of government and keeping the corporation on track and enthusiastic despite the current government’s policy to abolish the CEFC.

Your success has paved the way for many women in business.  How have things changed for women since you began?

Many things have changed over the nearly 50 years of my career. There are more women in business, though still not enough.  Childcare choices have expanded, and the attitude from partners and fellow workers is more supportive or at least benign.

What are you goals for the future?

After 50 years in a working career, I am not focused on goals for the future but I would like to continue to use my private sector skills to facilitate public policy outcomes as I have done at the CEFC and the RBA.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

Advice: Work on your inner stability, develop a bit of teflon coating, not being super sensitive to criticism or insensitive comments from male colleagues.  Do your homework and be prepared as it will improve your effectiveness and help your confidence and sense of belonging.

Inspirational Women: Michelle Doherty

Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

RELATED: Inspirational Women: Shelley Barrett

Name and role:

Michelle Doherty and my husband and I own award winning skincare brand Alpha-H.

Tell us about your role? What is it? What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Our brand is considered a global leader in corrective and preventative skincare and our best-selling resurfacing treatment Liquid Gold has become a “cult” beauty classic. I spend most of my time expanding the Alpha-H product range both in Australia and overseas, collaborating and working closely with TV networks, international distributers and professional beauty salons. The most rewarding part of my role as Director is having the opportunity to meet with people whose life has been changed through using our products.

How/when did you know this is what you wanted to do as a career?

I started in pharmacy at the age of 15 and worked alongside a number of international skincare ranges and cosmetics, but it was after a brief introduction to just two Alpha-H products that I identified that there was more potential than what over the counter brands were offering. After 4 days of using the brand, I discovered how dramatically it improved my skin, and it was then I knew that I wanted to do this as a career. I quickly realised that there was a gap in the market for solutions driven skincare.

Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career of the ground?

I didn’t really have a mentor as such, but because I had been working in the industry for international brands I had the network which helped me establish myself and my career.

You took over Alpha-H in its early stages, what were the stumbling blocks both initially and since then?

The biggest challenge has always been competing in an overcrowded market against faceless multi-national corporations that are heavily marketed and endorsed. It’s important to enlighten our customers that there is a very big difference between a professional clinic brand and what can be purchased over the counter in a department store. This is where we have to establish our point of difference and maintain close relationships with our customers so that we can accurately respond to their want and needs.

Another challenge that we have come up against is changing public perception that the more expensive a product is, the better it is. Our price points are honest because we do not over-hype or over-package and our manufacturing is cost-effective and without compromise. We want our products to be affordable because we believe everyone has the right to great skin, without the need to explore more invasive alternatives.

How did you overcome these?

We are honest, open and also very approachable. I think it helps that we have open dialogue with our customers and take a very candid approach to our marketing. Communication is a powerful tool and cannot be underestimated.

Establishing our point of difference and our value proposition early on has also helped us. We bring the salon into the home, customers’ love being able to achieve salon results in the comfort of their own surroundings. Part of our value proposition is that our products are multi-tasking, our Liquid Gold for example works as your exfoliator, toner, serum and moisturiser.

Alpha-H begun as a family run business and is now an international success. How has the business grown and changed? Was this always what you had planned?

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine Alpha-H becoming the globally recognized “go to” solutions brand that we have become. In 21 years we have gone from one employee (that being me) to a team of 50 globally. We recognized quickly that to stand out in an overcrowded space we had to create and be the best. Our constant and steady growth has allowed us to build solid foundations and made it possible to implement our own manufacturing facility which enables us to more closely monitor the quality, consistency and standard of each formulation.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Our customers and their journey inspire me when they become part of the Alpha-H family. I also find inspiration from allowing our customers to be the best possible versions of themselves, without having to resort to more invasive procedures or feel the need to ‘be’ someone else.

I gain inspiration for new products through determining the needs of our customers. We understand that they expect to see immediate results, which is why I work closely with a team of cosmetic scientists researching breakthrough ingredients and developing powerful formulations.

As the brand’s owner and director how have your personal experiences influenced your decisions regarding development and direction? 

It’s a responsibility and integrity to make a difference that we all share at Alpha-H. Alpha-H was born out of an aspiration and enthusiasm to make a difference and deliver the very best to every customer every day.

What are your goals for the future?

My number one goal is to continue to be a global leader in cosmeceutical skincare through research and continuous innovation and by doing so, change people’s lives.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

Be passionate, have a desire to want to make a difference. Also to learn from hardships and turn challenges into positives.

Weekend Wit: The Interstate Move From Hell

Our interstate move was planned about six months ago. It should have been pretty simple really: Organise housing, utilities and a truck to move all of our stuff. Of course nothing ever goes according to plan, however.

RELATED Weekend Wit – Online Shopping Debacle

I should have know it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing three weeks prior to the move when a very close friend passed away. While there’s nothing funny about death, I’m certain he timed it just to add as much stress as possible – he was exceptionally well known to do that – God bless him!

So, off we flew for a day trip to his funeral knowing full well in three short weeks we’d also need to find the money to move back there permanently. Mind you, we had lent the cash to said friend with the promise he’d pay it back. Now, that obviously wasn’t going to happen. Financially we were pretty much screwed; and emotionally, well let’s just say our family was totally crushed. In hindsight, we probably should have put off the move; but despite our financial woes and tremendous grief, we soldiered on.

We packed up our belongings and were set to take our furniture from an uncles shed. In the meantime, we’d been lucky to rent an amazing holiday house on the beach and hadn’t needed it. The only thing was that the truck was full before we left the house. How did we manage collect so much crap? Hmm… Quite the conundrum.

So, instead of offloading to make room from furniture, we set off with the beds, our electrical stuff, a fridge (minus the shelves, oops!), a washing machine, two motor bikes and a convoy of beloved belongings, all of which managed to load up an entire four tone truck, a Tarago and a Mazda 626.

Mind you, we had no actual home to go to. All 50 plus rental applications I’d submitted online were never opened. Apparently most agents accept this nifty facility, but unless you correspond directly with them the application is 100 percent useless. Of course in my haste to secure a place to live, deal with our friends death and our increasing financial strain, I didn’t take any notice of this until 2 days before the move.

Luckily a dear friend offered us a place to live for three weeks until her lease expired. The place had no heating, 2 bedrooms and was ready for a wrecking ball, but she’d already moved out so it was vacant. Or at least we’d thought. In the days prior to our move her daughter required a temporary roof for her friends. The empty place soon became home to 7 tenants, all aged sporadically between 16 and 45, all of who shared only two precious house keys. Not exactly the touch down I’d envisaged for our long awaited interstate move.

Obviously things were looking fairly bleak, so off I trotted to every open inspection in search of a suitable home. Our list of wants quickly became a list of needs, and the race to find a home began. Despite fabulous references and being a former home owner myself, it wasn’t enough. Weeks passed before I finally spoke to a sympathetic agent and who directed me to an empty property.

From the outside I could see potential, but the tired old abode needed serious TLC – and that was just the exterior. I was determined to make this a home, so despite obvious flaws I booked an inspection. The chatty agent told me she had no other interested parties and she managed to capture my attention for the entire five minute of viewing. Out of desperation to find a place I sped through our list of needs; three bedrooms – check; shed – check; ducted air-con – yep. Where do I sign?

Within two days we got the keys; and soon after the power was connected so we finally left the halfway inn. Hurrah! Upon collecting a fist full of keys to our new home, only one set gave us access through the front door. Perhaps they’d had a bit of bother and had to change the locks a few times, I thought? The house on closer inspection was grottier than any place I’d ever lived. What the hell had I done? The agent had said there had been trouble with previous tenants but it was cleaned “beautifully.”

Beautifully? Really? Every surface in and out of the house needed wiping or scrubbing, plus the curtains all needed re-hanging and a damn good wash. We even used the high pressure hose to clean the bathroom before we used it because it was so damn filthy! Perhaps her definition of “beautifully” was skewed.

Not long after I discovered particular lights didn’t work, the electric roller door was now manually operated, the manuals instructing how to operate the ducting (which we’d signed for to say we received) were all missing, and the list of broken or damaged items grew with every space I inspected. I even managed to eliminate a baby snake in the backyard because it was so overgrown. No wonder no-one else wanted the place!

Now, I get that certain obstacles are put on our path to test us. But this, this was an exam and I hadn’t studied! Obviously this is just the quick version of our interstate move from hell – don’t even get me started on the longer version. But to give you a glimpse of how well it’s been going, we consistently have people looking for former tenants at 1am, and have even incurred a visit from the police in search of them. Oh, the joys!

By day three in the new place after having cleaned, sourced and collected furniture, looked after the family and squeezed in minimal hours of sleep, I did what any sane person would do: I lost my shit! I effectively announced my arrival to the neighborhood and let’s just say, they probably think some nutter has just moved in – a very loud one with multiple grievances!

The upside to all this? Well, sometimes you need to search hard for the upside. BUT, the house is looking more and more like a home and it’s happened in less than a week. After a good clean and having plans in place to neaten it up, it’s not actually all that bad. We’ve had some awesome friends who’ve helped us out along the way and found some very kind strangers who’ve donated furniture. The kids are really happy and despite rising tensions, my partner is back to the loving man I adore.


Inspirational Women: Fleur Madden

Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

RELATED: Inspirational Women: Lauren Silvers 

Tell us about your role? What is it? What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

I am the CEO of Lulu and Lipstick, an online beauty company that sells exclusive and hard to find beauty brands from the US and the UK. As well as this, I am also the CEO of The Red Republic, a consumer PR agency in Sydney and Brisbane and Design by Republic a boutique graphic design studio.

How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?

I have spent the last 14 years of my career building brands for my clients through The Red Republic. I love building communities; brand experiences and seeing brands evolve. I have always had a passion for beauty and indeed over the years we have launched many beauty brands into market. I was living in NYC in 2012 and when I returned to Australia, many of my new favourite brands were no longer available to me or anyone else in Australia, which is when Lulu and Lipstick was born. I believe in the power of online and I am excited to see where Lulu goes. I have a passion for beauty and building brands, so hopefully this is just the start of a wonderful journey. 

Where do you find your inspiration? 

I definitely look at international trends in business and other brands that set the benchmark, I always have. I make sure my circle of influence is not just Australia and my competitors. Competition is good and it is healthy, but I absolutely do not spend my time watching my competitors. If you have a good product and you continue to evolve, you will continue to grow, so I don’t look over my shoulder. I also love watching different entrepreneurial businesses in niche industries doing some super creative campaigns that push the boundaries, while staying true to their values. That inspires me for my businesses to do the same. DryBar in the US, a chain of highend blow dry bars, is my current favourite brand and I love everything they do. It is authentic and their branding is always impeccable, clever and it is rolled out through every aspect of the customer experience! There’s the line and they live above it. I definitely want Lulu to be known for that in time.

Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?

My Father has always been my mentor for any of my businesses. He is a very successful entrepreneur with a global business and he is my sounding board. He bought me my first computer and printer when I started The Red Republic and he recently helped enormously on the IT side of launching Lulu and Lipstick.

I also do look up to other women in business and follow their journeys from a distance, such as Sara Blakely from Spanx.

What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?

I have been in business 11 years and every stage of your career as a business owner has different challenges. When I first started The Red Republic it was learning how to run a business when I was previously a journalist. Now at Lulu and Lipstick it is learning to work with IT people and becoming an expert at importing in a week. All of my businesses have been self funded, which has its’ own set of challenges. It is always my backside on the line and there is always a lot of pressure on myself to achieve success, quickly!

How did you overcome these?

Knowledge, experience, time and employing talented people that helped me to grow. Make sure you take yourself out of your comfort zone, so you can take things to the next level. As they say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

What are your goals for the future?

Lulu and Lipstick only launched in September of last year, so we have big goals for our growth and where we want to be. We certainly hope we become known for being an exclusive online destination for unique beauty brands. Our Lulu and Lipstick signature 12 piece makeup brush set is divine and also a best seller and we are looking to expand our own range in the next 6 months also. We are also looking to launch internationally. Watch this space.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

Don’t take it personally. Don’t expect success to happen overnight, the journey of a business owner is a long one. Employ the best people you can. People who share your vision and have passion – you can’t teach passion. Back yourself every day, because if you don’t no one else will.

Inspirational Women: Kate Vale

To celebrate 12 months of SHESAID’s Inspirational Women series, this April we will be featuring some of our favourite from the past year. These women are leaders in their chosen field and have shared with us and our readers their expertise, knowledge and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.

RELATED: Inspirational Women: Aimee Buchanan

Name and role: 

Kate Vale, Managing Director of Spotify – Australia and New Zealand

Tell us about your role? What is it? What do you do on a day-today basis?

I manage a team of around 20 people in Sydney covering all aspects of the business from Sales, Label Relations, PR, Marketing and Business Development.  Every day is quite different – I can be going out on sales calls, speaking at events and conferences, managing our P&L and managing budgets, forecasting numbers, staying up late to get on conference calls, hiring amazing people, helping put together proposals, meeting labels and artists, attending gigs, etc.

How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?

I started my career thinking that I wanted to be in Human Resources, however after a couple of years in the job I realised it wasn’t for me.  My career took a turn when I started a role for TMP Worldwide who had just acquired  This was my first taste of digital and was around 1997 when this ‘internet thing’ was just taking off. I knew this is where I wanted to focus my career and 17 years later it is where I remain. I’m very lucky in my current role at Spotify that I have been able to combine my passion for music and digital – it’s my perfect role!

Where do you find your inspiration?

I tend to draw inspiration from senior business leaders within the business I am currently working.  For example, at Google I was lucky to work with Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Meyer – both very different leaders.  At Spotify, I take inspiration from leaders such as Daniel Ek and Jeff Levick.

Outside of work, I also draw inspiration from my family. My husband is one of the founders of digital start-up, ROKT, and they are doing game-changing things.  My mother has always inspired me. She worked hard to bring up my brother and I, balancing a career as a graphic designer with hours that allowed her to spend time with her children. I also love fitness. I draw inspiration from many individuals who have excelled in their fitness careers.

Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?

I have never had a specific mentor however I generally look to people I admire to inspire me to achieve my goals. I have been lucky in the companies I have worked for to have people on my side who have helped progress my career.

What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?

My first stumbling block was realising that HR wasn’t for me and trying to find a role that suited my skills and experience outside of HR. I was lucky that the role I found was looking for HR professionals to move into a sales-oriented role.  My next stumbling block (or so I thought at the time) was being made redundant from that role two years on.  This was literally the best thing for my career as I found a role at OzEmail (Australia’s 2nd largest ISP at that time) in the media sales department and there began my career in online advertising.

What are your goals for the future?

I have many goals both professional and personal.  I want to ensure I have a long and satisfying role at Spotify.  This is the most satisfying role I have had in my career and I am excited to grow with this extraordinary company.  I also want to ensure that my professional and personal career remains balanced.  I want to be able to spend as much time with my children as they grow. My family is the most important thing in my life. I love our annual family holidays – it’s what keeps me going!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

I always tell people it is important to follow your passion.  If you can find a career involving your passion it makes work so much better.  There is nothing better than enjoying going to work! Also never give up. I have had to knock down doors to get where I am today. Always vocalise where you want to be. I would not be in this role if I had not have told Shakil Khan (an early investor in Spotify) that I thought Spotify was awesome and I would LOVE to work for them when they launched in Australia!

To indulge in some of Kate’s favourites, see here: Kate’s Pearlers

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