International Women’s Day: What advice would you give your younger self?

Observed since the early 1900’s, the theme for the 2018 International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress, no doubt due to the release of the World Economic Forums’ Global Gender Gap Report showing that it will take 217 years to close the gender parity gap.

To celebrate this important day, we sought advice from our network of female business leaders and previous podcast guests asking What advice would you give your younger self?” Spoiler alert – their advice is a must-read for all current/aspiring executives of all genders.

Get out of your comfort zone

Episode 96 – Merren McArthur – CEO – Virgin Australia Regional Airline & Virgo Australia Cargo

Merren McArthur is Chief Executive, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines (VARA) and Virgin Australia Cargo, one of Australia’s ASX100 public companies.

Episode 91 – Fiona Berkin – CEO, Morris Corporation

Fiona Berkin, CEO of Morris Corporation on delegating, having a vision, being driven, integrity and the three Bs.

“There are no shortcuts, it takes hard work, and eventually you will reap the rewards. It’s not so important how you get the results as long as there is integrity; the processes aren’t so important it’s the results that count,” Fiona Berkin, CEO Morris Corporation.

Fiona Berkin is the CEO of Morris Corporation, Australia’s leading privately owned remote village and asset management specialist. Fiona shares her  fascinating story of cutting her teeth in the hospitality industry before joining Morris Corporation in 1997 as a marketing assistant. Just a year after  joining the company, Fiona was promoted to the role of Group Business Development Manager and in 2004 was appointed CEO. Under Fiona’s stewardship, the company experienced vast growth, in some years experiencing triple digit growth percentages, in revenue, profit and employee numbers. Between 2005 and 2011, Morris Corporation skyrocket to number seven on the Q400 (Queensland’s Top 400 Privately Owned Businesses) list. 

Episode 85 – Tracey Vieira – CEO, Screen Queensland & Non Executive Director

Tracey Vieira, CEO of Screen Queensland, talks film and television, business acumen, building a personal brand, living with passion, sticking your hand up, and having self-belief.

Tracey Vieira is the CEO of Screen Queensland, a government organisation which works to grow the screen industry and contribute to the economic and cultural well being of Queensland. Screen Queensland’s role is to develop, fund and support the local screen industry, attract production to Queensland, and celebrate an active screen culture across the State. Tracey assumed the role of CEO in 2014 after spending ten years working for AusFilm in Los Angeles in the United States, where she attended the USC Marshall School of Business.

Marina Vit – CEO & NED

Marina Vit: CEO & NED talks building communities, being on a mission, spotting road blocks, following your dreams and exploring new things.

Marina Vit is the former CEO of the Queensland division of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA). UDIA is the peak body representing the property development industry nation wide, and is a membership based organisation which assists the industry build quality and liveable communities  through knowledge based events, research, professional development and advocacy. Marina is also the Director of Seqwater and has previously been the Deputy Chair of the Queensland Museum Board, the CEO of Young Care and the Board Director of Jupiters Casino Community Benefit Fund. She earned a Bachelor of Business in Communications with Distinction from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and later studied a Strategic Perspectives of Non Profit Management at Harvard Business School.

Prof. Donna Pendergast – Education Executive & Chair

Professor Donna Pendergast, Dean and Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, talks: Hearing others and shaping ideas, being a lifelong learner, growth mindset, collaboration over competition and diving into different worlds.

First and foremost Donna Pendergast is a born teacher, an education leader who is passionate about the possibilities and transformational qualities of learning.

Teachers and education have such a vital role to play in so many ways and I am focused on giving students capabilities to carry through life… education as a field is so crucial to the success of business and social enterprises,” she said.

Julia Davison – CEO – Goodstart Early Learning

headshotJulia Davison, CEO Goodstart Early Learning, talks: Early education, taking sabbaticals, learning through failure, being authentic and jumping ship.

Julia Davison is the CEO of Goodstart Early Learning, one of Australia’s largest social enterprises. She drives the strategic direction of Goodstart, which has over 615 early learning centres across the country in each state and territory, with more than 15, 000 staff educating over 70, 000 children. Goodstart is committed to working with children, families, communities, governments, and sector stakeholders to lift the quality of early learning in Australia, as international evidence proves the first five years are pivotal to how a child develops into adulthood.  Julia became CEO of Goodstart at a critical time.

Raynuha Sinnathamby – Managing Director – Springfield Land Corporation

Raynuha_webRaynuha Sinnathamby Managing Director Greater Springfield talks: building cities, keeping it in the family, adapting, taking every opportunity, seeing what’s possible and embracing change.

Raynuha Sinnathamby is the Managing Director of Springfield Land Corporation, recognised globally for what it has achieved with its award winning satellite city project, Greater Springfield. Now in its 24th year, Greater Springfield is Australia’s fastest emerging city. Encompassing six suburbs over almost 3000 hectares, it is home to 32, 000 people. When Springfield began the land mostly consisted of forestry, had a community of about 600 people, and a small shopping centre was the only retail space.

Melissa King – CEO – Surf Life Saving Australia

mkMelissa King, CEO Surf Life Saving Australia talks: Living a nomadic life, creating shared Value, putting yourself out there and swimming between the flags.

Melissa King completed a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and Marketing at Victoria University before commencing her career in marketing and corporate sponsorship roles. Later during her career she received a Masters of Business Administration from the University of New England; a Graduate Certificate of Arts Management and she is a graduate of Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Melissa has worked for some iconic organisations including as the Director of Marketing and Development with the Chartered Secretaries of Australia; as Manager of Sponsorship and Business Relations with the 2007 APEC Task Force, and as Group Manager of Corporate Partnerships at Sydney Opera House. Melissa became CEO of iconic brand Surf Life Saving Australia in July 2015, it’s an organisation she lives and breathes and Melissa genuinely views the organisation’s success as her own.

Nina Chen – Founder and Director – Harvest Education Technical College

Nina-196x300The power of one: Nina Chen, Founder and Director of HETC, talks education, grabbing opportunity and transforming one country at a time.

Nina Chen is an entrepreneur and the Founder and Director of Harvest Education Technical College (HETC), an educational institute with two Brisbane campuses and over 3000 international and domestic students. HETC offers courses in business, hospitality and technology among a range of  other study areas. Energetic and boundlessly passionate about her work, Nina is a young woman who has achieved incredible things in her career and she has a personal, fascinating story. Nina strives to help others less fortunate and as well as operating HETC she is constantly working on ventures overseas to improve third world countries. She is also a mum to three young boys.

Amelia Hodge – CEO, Non Executive Director


Amelia Hodge, Former CEO Queensland Law Society talks: Her jigsaw career, turning points, backing yourself and her passion for renovating.

When you sit down with Amelia Hodge you can’t help but notice the word ‘fun’ arises many times throughout the conversation. It is indeed a good word to describe Amelia as she is a high achiever,  a go-getter; someone who is energetic and genuinely passionate about all of her professional responsibilities, as well as her many interests outside of work.

Amelia has had a highly interesting career. After earning law qualifications she began her own business and worked across a range of industries, predominantly in relation to infrastructure and development.  She is currently the CEO of the Australian Property Institute

Kathy Hirschfeld — Former Executive Director BP Australasia & Non Executive Director

1a98322Kathy Hirschfeld — Former Executive Director BP Australasia & Non Executive Director — On Gender Diversity, Running a Refinery & Creating Your Own Future

Arete Executive is eager to feature a much greater representation of female guests on the podcast, especially those who have successfully moved from an executive to a non-executive or portfolio career. It was wonderful to sit down and have a conversation with Kathy Hirschfeld, a civil engineer and accomplished women, who forged an impressive career in senior roles in an often male dominated industry. Kathy is genuine and down-to-earth and was forthcoming with fascinating stories from what is a remarkable number of diverse roles throughout her career.

Jodi Schmidt – CEO

0b66f43Jodi Schmidt — Former CEO TAFE Queensland On the Changing Landscape of Education & Why it Pays to Be a Yes Person

Jodi Schmidt is someone who has made some significant career achievements at a relatively young age. The education sector is currently undergoing immense disruption and change, so it was fascinating to speak with Jodi and hear her views on shifts in the industry both in Australia and globally.

Jodi is the former CEO of TAFE Queensland, a role she has held since 2013. TAFE Queensland is the state’s largest, most experienced training provider delivering practical, industry-relevant training to more than 120,000 students each year across 500 programs. Jodi has extensive experience as a leader within the education, training and employment sectors, having previously worked for a number of organisations including the Department of Education Queensland and Southbank Institute of Technology.