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Deakin MBA partner “Business in Heels” hosts Geelong-based summit to empower regional women

Building confidence, establishing collaborations, and tapping into the business growth of Geelong was the agenda for a regional business women’s summit held recently at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds Estate.

Organised by Business In Heels (BIH) – which partners with Deakin Business School’s MBA program – the all-day event focused on empowering regional women working in small and medium-sized businesses and other professional roles.

Leading a group of highly-successful event and hospitality companies, keynote speaker Chyka Keebaugh provided insight into her 25 years as a major business player and television personality with Network Ten (Good Morning Australia) and Foxtel (The Real Housewives of Melbourne).

The conference guests were then able to participate in their choice of three of the 16 workshops on offer before hearing from a panel of ‘regional superstars’.

These included Gillan Costa (Director of The EMC Group which operates The Pier Geelong, Wah Wah Gee & Wah Bah, The Edge, Denny’s Kitchen and Geelong’s Lamby's Tavern); Lyndsay Sharp (marketing and public relations for Bellarine Peninsula’s Jack Rabbit Vineyard, Flying Brick Cider Co, Leura Park Estate and Curlewis Golf Club), and Melynda Carpenter (business banking, risk, property and marketing expert who now heads up Women in Focus at Commonwealth Bank).

Through the partnership between Deakin Business School and Business in Heels, MBA student Pauline Van was sponsored to attend the ‘packed-program’ event where she met women from a wide range of business backgrounds and experiences.

‘There were people passionate about how to be better managers, business owners or business-ready … it was an event that allowed me to meet incredible women driven to “make it”’, she says.

One of the central messages, from both the keynote address and panel speakers, was that while each business experiences ‘dizzying highs and incredible lows’ there are many ways to reach out, share and seek advice.

‘All the speakers were very real people who did not have a single path or story that led them to their successful selves today. A common theme was to just make things work in the face of an “impossible” challenge. The speakers were inspirational in their incredible drive and passion to see their visions through,’ says Pauline.

Pauline attended three workshops -“How to Create High Functioning Teams”, “How to Silence Your Inner Critic” and “My Funding Alternatives to Allow Me to Scale” which provided insight into working with younger generations, managing vulnerability and lack of confidence, and the challenge of balancing capital with goodwill.

As an MBA student, she says the key takeaway was the willingness of other women to help with her own study/career journey.

‘People were interested in my story, wanted to connect and see how they or their network would be able to help me achieve what I am looking to achieve in the immediate to short term – a career change into consulting. It also gave me a glimpse of the real need for events like these to bring us all together to be able to share, connect and build what we want the business environment to be.’

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