Thursday, 7 July 2011

Networking has never been one of my strong points, so it was with trepidation that I ventured down to Zinc at Fed Square last night to hear Janet Matton, Vice President, Operations, IBM and Larke Riemer, National Head of Women’s Markets, Westpac Banking Corporation speak.
   The title of the night was Success Stories from the Top. It was incredibly inspiring hearing how, from humble beginnings, both these women have climbed to the top of their industries. 
   Janet, the first in her family to complete university, stumbled into IT, thought she'd join IBM for two years and then move on. Her plan didn't quite go to plan, as, "32 years on I'm still there". Janet is passionate about seeing more women in senior management, and angry that it's not happening faster. She believes quotas are a way to force the change and I have to say, after hearing her speak, I do not disagree. 
   In contrast, Larke Reimer's history is colourful. Coming from Far North Queensland,  Larke left school at 16, married at 17 and by 18 had a daughter ((Nicky who owns the newly opened Union Dining Room in Richmond). Running pubs until she was 32 gave her sleeves-up-on-the-ground business experience, until she became bored. With two young daughters Larke knew she wanted to broaden her horizons and explore what the world had to offer outside of pubs. So she took a job with Westpac and while she didn't know much about financial products, she could sell, and her career flourished. With a self-confessed two year attention span Larke has worked throughout the business and says her current role is her "dream job". Hearing her speak with such confidence, energy and humour was infectious. She's the kind of woman who makes you feel anything is possible with hard work.
   So perhaps I didn't network as much as could have – but I did leave with confidence, hope and the lesson that it's never too late to push yourself.


  1. Sounds like a great session. Until recently my tendency was not to go for quotas, however I think the evidence is in, they do work. And the profile of the business world will be broader once there's a 50/50 make up. So it's over to your generation ...

  2. knew i could rely on you to articulate my argument. thank you.