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28 Mar 2018


Business Woman of the Year shares powerful insights on career and business


Telstra Australian Business Women of the Year, SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis at the 2018 Telstra International Women’s Day panel
The purpose of the discussion, recorded with a live audience of 800 people, was for panellists to share powerful stories about their remarkable career journeys, what challenges they had overcome, inspirational triggers, tricks of the trade and valuable strategic advice.

Some standout achievements of SSI under Ms Roumeliotis’ leadership include increased revenues from $9 million to $110 million, supporting 1,185 migrants gain work, securing funding for refugee entrepreneurs, and securing a place at the UNHCR Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) as one of only four Australian delegates.

Ms Roumeliotis said she approaches challenges with a focus on values rather than financial outcomes. She advised that money would inevitably follow if the focus remained on the value of what was done.

“To overcome roadblocks or to help me make decisions I refer back to the values of the organisation; our principles are at the heart of who SSI strives to be as a pillar of the community,” Ms Roumeliotis said.

When speaking about past challenges, Ms Roumeliotis raised SSI’s biggest challenge and achievement to date: the resettlement of 10,000 refugees during 2017.

“Last year, SSI supported 10,000 refugees to settle in Australia. This was a huge challenge — and huge achievement — that was driven by the government’s one-off intake of 12,000 refugees affected by the conflict in Syria and Iraq. To put this into context, in a typical year we settle 3,000 refugees.

“Thankfully, the staff in that program and their formidable leader Yamamah Agha rose to the challenge. We hired where we needed to, revised our processes and tools where we needed to, and were able to settle this new cohort of refugees with no decline in the quality of service provided or — more importantly — settlement outcomes.”

Ms Roumeliotis narrowed her most valuable business advice to three notions: trust your instincts, nurture meaningful relationships and be open to collaboration.

“Over the years I’ve really come to depend on colleagues, friends and family that nourish me. These meaningful relationships take nurturing. I always find the time, as these are the people I lean on during challenging times. Be generous with your time for those that nourish you.”

“Another aspect that has stood out for me is the power of collaboration. So much of the work I’ve been able to do has been down to inviting people to partner where there has been no partnership before. When you invite people in to help and work together, it is incredible what can be achieved.”

Tune in to hear Violet Roumeliotis answer the question: “What advice would you give your 25-year-old-self?” Click here to watch the interview!

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