26 November 2014

Speech to 2014 Telstra Business Women's Awards


Check against delivery

Ladies and gentlemen, what a spectacular evening and hasn’t Andrew Daddo added so much to it?

He is a natural.

It would also be remiss of us not to show our appreciation and sincere gratitude to Telstra for their ongoing support of this outstanding celebration of your success.

To the other sponsors that have been such a part of this - to the CBA and  to News Corporation, to each and every one of you that are absolute heroes in my eyes for being the path finders of enterprise and opportunity in our country. How about a cheer for the supporters and the sponsors?

Catherine Livingstone will shortly be presenting the big prize. It won’t be coming in on SMS. We have gone traditional; it will be in an envelope.

But it reminded me of some years ago I was in Ho Chi Minh City and through a microfinance program, a woman was able to transform her life and the life of her family just by someone believing in her.

In Hikkaduwa Sri Lanka, it was a woman’s cooperative that was lifting a community out of poverty through their enterprise, through channels to market and the collaboration that seems to be a gift that is inherent in women, particularly those engaged in business.

I was fortunate to travel to a place called Nakuru in Kenya, where too many young people - particularly women - were spending four hours a day carting water from the nearest source of safe water back to their homes and missing out on education and other opportunities. To bring electricity and water to that community was transformational.

It was a very vivid example of how enterprise is a wonderful enabler, changing people’s lives and lifting people out of poverty in those countries and into the place they want to be.

But it requires confidence and optimism and why I am so thrilled to be with you tonight is the remarkable example that you set for women right across our country. To show that if you aspire and dream to be an entrepreneur, to build your own opportunities and those around you and for your communities, success is within reach.

You set a wonderful example for so many others in our community.

You are exemplars of what you do and this is a wonderful evening of celebration.

But I want to personally thank you for what you are doing for people that aren’t here. Women, micro women like my four year old daughter, who can look at your story and think “You know, I could do that”. Who can realise there is this delicious world of opportunities out there waiting for them.

And there are pathfinders in this room that have shone a light on how to achieve in fields of endeavour so diverse - just listening to your stories was an absolute inspiration.

I also pay tribute to each and every one of you. You’ve succeeded. What brings me to my role is not that fortune. My wife and I, in our business, we loved every moment of it. It was just south of the great southern hemisphere capital – and I’m not talking about Santiago or Buenos Aires – but Frankston.

In our retail business in Mornington, we knew on our very wet Melbourne days, the rain came in sideways. The only upside was the natural exfoliation of the skin you got as you walked down the street.

To this day I remember, to the last dollar, the rent we paid each month.  I remember the pillow talk of cash flow- making that month’s payroll.

We were living the dream. Owning a small business, I quickly realised, was the greatest contraceptive ever invented.

So I admire all of you for your success whether it be in a small business you have just started, whether it be in a social enterprise that is described as not for profit but you quickly learn, by golly, they are not for loss either.

For those that are contributing to community services, our emergency services, our big corporations. But I want to give a particular shout out to particularly the young women and the small businesses that have started an enterprise.

In small business there is a particular level of commitment. It reminds me of breakfast. When you have bacon and eggs – look at that meal. You will see the egg and you will think, “Gee, the chicken was involved” but you’ll see the bacon and think “By golly, wasn’t the pig committed” And it is that level of commitment that is seen across small business too.

We want to energise enterprise.

Tonight is a celebration of the exemplars of enterprise.

Thank you for having me with you.