Who are the world’s most powerful women? Strong career women can be an inspiration to women and men alike. Here Alyce Vayle looks at the career advice from some of Australia’s (and the world’s) top career women, in areas as vast as technology, publishing, start-ups and screen. What advice could you take from them?
#1: Yahoo CEO – Marissa Mayer
Marissa Mayer is the president and CEO of Yahoo!, a position she’s had since July 2012. She’s been a tech executive, usability leader, and key spokesperson for Google as well as being ranked sixth on Fortune’s 40 under 40 list.
Learn to manage others: “Management is defence. You basically say, ‘This is the direction, this is where we’re heading,’ and then it’s my job to get everything else out of the way,” she has famously said. “All the other things that can become a distraction keep us from executing well. Get those out of the way, because the team ultimately needs to run in that direction and execute well.”
#2: Most powerful women: Founder of Ingeus – Thérèse Rein
Also married to former Australian PM Kevin Rudd, Thérèse Rein is an Australian entrepreneur and founder of Ingeus, an international employment and business psychology services company. In 2010, she was awarded the Human Rights Medal by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
“I am a very goal-oriented person,” she has said. “I think at work I am an A-type personality, so I am in control, and I make decisions, and I commission work, and I speak. It hasn’t felt like the right time to do that, here in this role, until now, really.”
#3: Founding director of RedBalloon – Naomi Simson
Naomi Simson is the founding director of RedBalloon, an online experience gift retailer she launched from her home around 15 years ago. Her company is considered the pioneer of experiential gifting in Australia and has ranked in the Top 50 Employers by Business Review Weekly since 2009.
Solve people’s problems: “My suggestion is that if you are driven solely by financial success – think again,” she says. “Great businesses solve problems; they make life easier, they do things that had not been done before, and they make a difference.”
#4: Journalist and blogger – Nikki Parkinson
Nikki Parkinson is a former journalist and now full-time professional blogger at www.stylingyou.com.au. Her first book, Unlock Your Style, was published by Hachette in August 2014.
Support others at work: “I think it’s important to honour and support the role that all women play in business and the workplace,” she says. “For me, I think it can start at a grass-roots level. Celebrate the women around you who are doing good things from a business perspective.”
#5: CEO of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network – Suzi Dafnis
Suzi is the Community Director and CEO of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network. A recognised blogger, podcast host, media commentator, social media instructor, public speaker and long-time digital marketer, Suzi is an advocate for education and entrepreneurship amongst women.
Become an entrepreneur: “Promote entrepreneurship as a career option in school and start to train on the basics of running a business,” she says, “instead of only steering people towards careers as employees. Showcase the talent of great female entrepreneurs.”
#6: Editor of Australia’s Mamamia – Mia Freedman
Mia is the founder, publisher and editorial director of Australia’s leading women’s website Mamamia.com.au. She began her career in the magazine industry, working at Cosmopolitan for seven years then spending time at publications Cleo and Dolly.
Don’t be afraid to change careers: “Assume that you will have a number of different jobs and even careers in your life,” Mia say. “Don’t make the mistake of thinking what you choose to do after school locks you in to anything. Be open to changing direction.”
#7: Editor in Chief of American Vogue – Anna Wintour
Anna Wintour has been the English editor-in-chief of American Vogue since 1988. She has become an important figure in the fashion world, and has been known for her eye for fashion trends and her support for younger designers.
Take risks and be brave: “It’s very important to take risks,” the editor says. “I think that research is very important, but in the end you have to work from your instinct and feeling and take those risks and be fearless.”
#8: Director and actor – Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett has received critical acclaim including two Academy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and three British Academy Awards. Her most powerful women speech was lauded when she was appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2012.
Learn to deal with things with grace: “Things present themselves to you, and it is how you choose to deal with them that reveals who you are,” this actor says. “We all say a lot of things, don’t we, about who we are and how we think. But in the end it’s your actions.”
#9: Chief Operating Officer of Facebook – Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl is an American technology executive, activist, and author. She is the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook. In June 2012, she was elected to the board of directors by the existing board members and became the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board and was one of the most powerful women there.
Work in teams to succeed: “Endless data show that diverse teams make better decisions. We are building products that people with very diverse backgrounds use,” she says, “and I think we all want our company makeup to reflect the makeup of the people who use our products.”
#10: Writer and director – Lena Dunham
Her show, Girls is a TV standout. She created the plot and writes the script as well as directing and starring in the production. Lena then scored a $3 million book deal, as well as a slew of awards and was named TIME‘s Coolest Person of the Year.
Don’t be afraid to push yourself: “It’s very easy for me to say what success is,” Lena says. “I think success is connecting with an audience who understands you and having a dialogue with them. I think success is continuing to push yourself forward creatively.” She is definitely one of the world’s most powerful women!