The organisations in which I’ve always taken an interest — both in the business world and not-for-profit sector — are those that operate like honey bees. They collaborate and generate value for themselves, their communities and their environment.
Others serve their own interests, consuming whatever lies in their paths, like locusts. I like to think that as a person who has led teams in successful organisations, we have employed honey-bee-type practices that have seeded fruitful, sustainable organisations with positive outcomes for its employees and the communities they work with.
I’ve always approached business with integrity, focusing on values, rather than financial outcomes. It was heartening to have this recognised on Friday, when I was selected as a NSW category winner and national finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
Given that around half of the 5,000 applicants for the awards originated from NSW, I was honoured just to have been selected as one of the 24 state finalists — each of whom had an inspiring story of carving out their own path to business success.
I was one of four innovative and entrepreneurial finalists in the purpose and social enterprise category, and I was joined on the night by my daughter, one of my sisters and my mother.
Growing up, my parents always encouraged us to be generous to others and to help others whenever the opportunity arose. We saw firsthand the applied values of integrity and respect, something which I carry with me to this day.
As the child of migrants, I also saw many injustices and indignities thrust upon my parents and my extended family and members of the community. I witnessed racism and prejudice, small mindedness and cruelty. Yet I never felt a sense of helplessness or fear. I was inspired by my parents and family and their capacity to take each day and make what they could of it —to celebrate achievements and to collectively commiserate ill health, death, or misfortune.
This drove my deep commitment to social justice and the lifelong belief that every person has the right to meet their full potential and to live the life they chose. It nurtured a sense of self-belief that helped me to overcome obstacles and motivated me to dream big. It lit a fire that has yet to go out!
As the CEO of Settlement Services International, I now lead an organisation with values that mirror who I am and what I stand for: social justice, equality and a fair go for all.
I’m grateful to have a platform to raise awareness about social justice and to be a role model for multicultural women and female leaders — to show that you can make it to the top with your character, conviction and passion intact.
I have been so inspired by the women who I’ve met through the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, and I wish to offer my congratulations to all of the NSW finalists, including those who are progressing to the national awards! It was a privilege to have spent time with a group of such interesting and impressive leaders.