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Girl Power at the Run the World Conference

Hui Jun Ng

Wed Nov 13 2013


AUSTRALIA’S first all-female conference, Run the World, was held recently in Melbourne. Hui Jun Ng went along to be inspired and get career advice from some of the country’s most successful female entrepreneurs. 

Run the World was organised by RMIT University and the League of Extraordinary Women, a movement for young female entrepreneurs. More than 200 women were invited to the conference, and some even flew in from other states to attend.

They came to be inspired and empowered by 10 successful female guest speakers. Each speaker came from a different career background, but they all had one thing in common – they love their job.

“You will need to know what drives you – if not you will never be happy,” says Verve Communications CEO Prue MacSween.

“If you don’t love what you do, you can never be great at it,” adds fashion designer Annah Stretton. Annah owns 31 stores and after 21 years in the business, she still enjoys it.

The importance of doing what you love and converting it to a paycheck was emphasised throughout the event, which was a comfort to those who have dreams that sometimes seem like impossible feats.

“It’s only when you dream that your possibilities become reality,” says Red Balloon founder Naomi Simson. Her company has a turnover of $61 million and has been voted one of Australia’s top ten places to work at.

You are the author of your own life story. The story you tell yourself is the most important. Don’t let others define your story.” – Valerie Khoo, founder, Australian Writers Centre

But don’t freak out if you don’t know what your calling is yet. Kikki.K founder Kristina Karlsson was in the same boat.

“I wasn’t happy with what I was doing and I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I was complaining everyday. That’s not the right way to live of course,” she shares.

After being encouraged by her supportive husband to list what was important to her, she began envisioning her dream job and that was the start of stationery store Kikki.K. The company has now expanded all around Australia, and also has stores in New Zealand and Singapore.

Of course, none of the speakers had a smooth career journey. Sacrifices were necessary and setbacks inevitable.

Cupcake Central Founder Sheryl Thai talked about her failures in the early days, but confessed each mistake brought her one step closer to her goal. Today, she has four stores across Melbourne.


All guests were treated to Cupcake Central’s baby cake. Photo: Hui Jun Ng

“Count your success stories. Everyday write something you are proud you have achieved because you will start acknowledging how far you have come. Document stuff like making your first sale or just having a really good day.” says Luxmy Furniture CEO Priyanka Rao.

“Everything we do impacts us, we just don’t realise how often we are influenced,” says Catherine Moolenschot who published her first book at 13.

Tania Zaetta, the first foreigner to conquer Bollywood, revealed she faked it till she made it in the modeling and TV industry.

“My parents said you can do anything you want so long as you put your mind into it,” she says.

All the speakers mentioned how they defied the stereotypes of women being submissive and hoped to encourage other aspiring female entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.


Founder of Australian Writers Centre Valerie Khoo. Photo: Hui Jun Ng

Valerie Khoo, founder of the Australian Writers Centre ended her speech with a beautiful reminder to everyone: “You are the author of your own life story. The story you tell yourself is the most important. Don’t let others define your story.”

If you would like to be part of the League of Extraordinary Women, register at their official website.

Check out our video of the best bits of Run the World to hear sage career advice from the female entrepreneurs themselves above!