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Devil Wears Grey

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Winning of 2013 Telstra Medium Business Award and overall NSW Business Award:

Bloody Brilliant

Last night my company Fifth Quadrant was privileged enough to win the 2013 NSW Telstra Medium Business Award and the overall 2013 NSW Business Award. Woohoo... #gold. And a bit of a surprise to be perfectly frank. Marginally gobsmacked would be a reasonable summation of my state last night....


The winning of the Awards allowed me to talk on stage about one of the most important key success factors of my business - the strength of women's leadership and the development of a strong feminine archetype of business.


So I wanted to share my speech with you ..... via video here http://www.fifthquadrant.com.au/fifthquadrant/videos or in words below:


Telstra NSW Medium Business Awards Speech 9 July 2013


Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests, Good Evening.


My name is Dr Catriona Wallace and I lead the Fifth Quadrant Group in partnership with James Organ. I am very privileged to have a business partner who is a man who is happy to stand behind me and let me as a woman leader, lead.


I would first like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land here in Sydney, the Gadigal Band of the Eora people. I pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I also want to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the room tonight. I would love to see more Indigenous people acknowledged for their significant role in Australian business.


I would also like to acknowledge the other finalists, Tyro, Booktopia, Australian Careers Business College, Five D Holdings and Nature’s Care Manufacture. We are extremely honoured to be sharing this category with you and we hope we may be great friends going forward.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Fifth Quadrant is a business born to and dedicated to improving the experience customers have with organisations. We know as you know that when it comes to business there is actually only customer experience. Every other strategy comes second.


Finally, Australian business is realising this.


So my team has worked tirelessly for over 10 years to bring customer experience strategy to the Board room and Executive leadership teams. We work with organisations ranging from the NRMA to the whole of NSW Government.


And we believe that great customer experience is not only tied to great profit but more importantly to the emotional, social, physical, and economic well-being of Australians. So our team goes to work every day knowing that they are contributing beyond improving dividends for large organisations – they are fundamentally affecting people’s lives.


Our aim is to revolutionise the way organisations interact with their customers so they can provide true personalisation.


This award process has caused us to stop and think about why we have been successful – and we do believe that one of our key success factors has been based on Fifth Quadrant having strong women leaders and a culture that fosters the feminine archetype in business.


This archetype is characterised through:

  1. A strong culture of inclusion and diversity
  2. A strong focus on collaboration, networking, mentoring and connecting
  3. A deep level of caring for all people – employees, customers, suppliers, everyone
  4. A strong philanthropic culture: funding indigenous communities, women’s rights; children at risk and people who have been incarcerated or in detention
  5. Having children in the workplace
  6. An acceptance of tears, anger, heartache and laughter in the workplace
  7. No egos
  8. No power plays
  9. No politics
  10. No hierarchy
  11. A huge amount of humour

… and…. finally….



A lot of cushions and ornaments…;)


And the future for Fifth Quadrant includes:



1) the launch in October of a Customer Experience Marketplace called Flamingo which will allow customers to specify the whole of experience that they want with organisations


2) an unrelenting resolve to be  “Better than the Big Houses


So look out the big 5 consulting houses –PWC, Bain, EY, Delloite, Accenture ….. 




And a massive thankyou from James and I goes to:

  • our clients who trust us with their customers
  • our Nannies who let we business leaders go to work and do our thing
  • our extraordinary team members who have allowed our work and our social conscience to be integrated into their lives and
  • our families who totally back us


With much love and thanks. A great honour.


And What not to Wear whilst on stage at an Awards function? A french lace dress that has a massive split up the front so that half your mind is on your speech and half is on not Sharon Stoning the front row of the audience....

Silicon Valley and BSB


I was totally allowed to go on the Women In Focus Silicon Valley Tour. Brilliant. Truly one of the best experiences of my life.


The reason I was keen to go on the Tour was that I have a start up digital business called Flamingo, which is a platform that allows customers to personalise the experiences they want from organisations - telcos, utilities and banking. The business has been modeled over the last 12 months and we are about to start the build of the platform. Bloody hard work I must say so I was keen to learn how things worked in Silicon Valley.


Here's what I learned that you need to do to raise money or capital in Silicon Valley:


  1. First go to Angels, friends, family and fools and convince them to give you $100k (An Angel is defined as having over $1m net worth and earns at least $200k pa and will invest as low as $10 in projects; a Super Angel is a professional investor and will invest $100-$150k per investment)
  2. Investors will expect a x 3 return on their initial investment realised in 3-5 years.
  3. About 20% of the businesses Angels invest in will be successful

When pitching here is what you need to convince Investors you know:

  • What problem you are solving
  • What is the size of the market, what is the dollar spend and who is the customer?
  • What is the cost to acquire a customer and what is the lifetime value of the customer?
  • How many customers are there?
  • How many competitors are there?
  • How is your solution addictive and unique?
  • Would Amazon be able to do this? If yes, then give up.

Investors look for 3 things:

  1. Smartest Team: Tech Developer, Designer, Distribution
  2. Kick *** Product
  3. Big *** Market - looking for a $1billion market and want to capture 10% of this


Now most importantly we asked a female Venture Capitalist what was the secret in women pitching to VCs. Her answer was:


#Big Silicon Balls (BSB)


Yes, ladies, time and time again we were told that Australian women were too nice and not aggressive and that they needed to grow balls. Plain and simple - there it was. It is certainly a different culture and one that many Australians may not feel overly comfortable in as you have to aggressively sell yourself.

So a few of us had a few drinks (mainly Bron, Lou and I) and we acted out pitching to VCs. Here's how the VC role play went:

VC: "So I see you are a woman. Not a good start. Australian. Even worse. Now, give me your pitch in 10 minutes or less and then let me tell you nothing about how wonderful you are and how much work you have done and what is really good about your business. No. Let me instead tell you how you will ... EPICLY FAIL"


Massive learning curve and a few of us on the trip have now planned to revisit the US option in about 6 months time.


First we will grow some BSBs.


To the CBA and the Women in Focus team, especially Katie and Ruthie - thank you so much for the most amazing gift that this trip was to me and the other women. Love love love.


And to my new BSB sisters:


Fiona Anson

Pascale Helyar-Moray

Louise Curtis

Karan White

Denise Meyerson

Natalie Chapman

Bronwen OBrien

Yvette Adams

Suzanne Shcultz


So totes loving you all.


And What Not To Wear when in Silicon Valley.... tight pants. Wear loose jeans, black tee shirt and have a saggy crutch just in case you need to grow some .....

RAWomen Forum - huge success


We have now had 3 RAWomen Forum webinars which have been hugely successful. RAWomen is a free monthly forum for women hosted by me and Karen James (KJ) in partnership with CommBank's Women in Focus Community and the Sydney Women's Fund. KJ and I get to talk with cool and high profile women who have achieved greatness in life. And we make them talk Rawly about their lives. Very cool.


So far we have interviewed Senate Candidate Nova Peris, Australia's most influential woman, Jan Owen OAM and Ros Strong AM and Pat Hall - who made Karen and I tear up with her story of adversity as well as the work she does with disadvantaged women in Warwick Farm.


We would love you to join us for the next webinar featuring one of Australia's most celebrated authors, Dr Anita Heiss. Anita is an Aboriginal woman who came to fame as she was criticised for essentially being not black enough by controversial journo, Andrew Bolt. Anita and others who were also criticised by Bolt took legal action, won, and then Anita wrote the book Am I Black Enough For You. Seriously excellent book.


KJ and I would love you to join the RAWomen conversation with Anita on:

Friday, 7th June 2013 at 1pm


It's like totally free. Please register at RAWomen

RAWomen Webinar

with Guest Speaker Jan Owen, OAM, AUstralia's Most Influential Woman


Last month we launched the RAWomen Webinar Forum for women with Guest Speaker Nova Peris, OAM, Ex-Olympian and Senate Candidate.


We had almost 200 women join us for the first webinar which was sensational. We had fabulous feedback. We asked the women who attended how valuable the session was. Some of the comments included:


“Through the Roof !!  Absolutely loved the session.  It was so inspiring listening to Nova share her personal stories with us.  The opportunity to share this experience with both Catriona and Karen is wonderful and I look forward to taking part in many many more.  Eventually would love to see you stage face to face special events but that’s me and my big fat ideas!  You guys ROCK !  Thanks again”


“It is always great to have a platform where women can come together and build a support network for each other.”


“Very valuable.”

“Thank you very much. I will be sending this link to some of my friends who run their own businesses”


“Very valuable. The only mentor I have is male, in the US, and can only mentor me through less than half of my business pursuits. I am limited financially and time wise, so these webinars are perfect.”

“I also had a particularly difficult day with some business hurdles yesterday and this morning, so this was a great reminder that a bad day is just a bad day and nothing more.”


So, we are now promoting the next RAWomen Webinar which will feature Australia’s Most Influential Woman, as awarded by the AFR and Westpac, Jan Owen, OAM, and CEO of Foundation for Young Australians.



Jan will chat with Karen James and I about life as a hugely influential woman. Brilliant.


It's free to attend and we would love you to join us: http://www.fifthquadrant.com.au/fifthquadrant/rawomen



And What not to Wear to RAWomen? Anything and nothing...

Catriona Wallace

Amazing Tech Start Up Women

By Catriona Wallace   |   Published Mar 17, 2013

As a bunch of us are gearing up for the mid- May trip to Sillicon Valley with Women in Focus, I was reflecting on who are the leading women in Australia in this IT start-up space.


Springboard http://www.springboard.org.au launched in Australia last year and set out to discover 8 women-led businesses who they would support. The finalists for the Springboard women's incubation program included:


  1. Samantha Cobb, founder of biotech company AdAlta
  2. Melanie Perkins of consumer technology company Canva
  3. Tessa Court, founder of cloud computing company IntelligenceBank
  4. Georgia Beattie, founder of wine product company Single Serve Packaging
  5. Natasha Rawlings of mobile marketing company StreetHawk
  6. Deb Noller, founder of Switch Automation
  7. Vanessa Wilson, founder of cloud computing company Triplebackup
  8. Fiona Waterhouse from clean tech company Utilitas


So these will be the women to watch out for in this space....


That being said, WiF has a number of super star women-led start ups including:


Rebekah Campbell of Posse http://posse.com/town


Pascale Helyar-Moray from StyleRocks http://www.stylerocks.com/


and Alli Baker and Fiona Anson from HireMeUp http://www.hiremeup.com.au/





And What Not to Wear if you are a woman-led-start-up? A black tee-shirt and converse sneakers. Don't.

Launch of RAWomen Webinar Forum for Women



At 1pm on Friday 1 March 2013, in partnership with Women in Focus and Sydney Women's Fund, I will be launching the inaugral session of RAWomen, a new webinar series for women only.



What is the RAWomen Forum?

The forum provides a platform for (all) women to discuss how they are navigating their working and personal lives.and how to be successful in business through to how to manage children, relationships and health.


Who is RAWomen for?

RAWomen is a forum for women only – for all women, regardless of background or age, whether working or not. In particular this forum will provide women who do not yet have significant networks a platform to connect with other women who are willing to share and support them.


Why are we creating this Forum?

A key finding of the Sydney Women’s Fund Portrait Project http://www.sydneycommunityfoundation.org.au/Sydney-Women-s-Fund.aspx  was that income inequality was creating greater disadvantage and poverty for women and girls, particularly those living in low socio economic situations.  A key pathway out of poverty is through education and employment, which mentoring programs and networks help to foster.


Additionally there has been much conversation in the Australian business community and at Women in Focus discussions about the absence of appropriate mentoring programs for women.


In essence we believe there is significant untapped potential in Australia’s women and this forum hopes to be able to support and mobilise women to better support these women.


When is RAWomen?

The Forum will be held once a month, on a Friday, at 1pm and run for one hour. As long as an attendee has internet connection then they can log in to the Citrix GoTo Webinar platform. Or they can dial in on the phone.


Who is Involved?

The series will be hosted by Dr Catriona Wallace, Managing Director of Fifth Quadrant, and Karen James, General Manager, Affiliate Business Banking and Women in Focus, CBA. Kristi Mansfield from Sydney Womens Fund will also participate.


Catriona and Karen will be joined by a range of guest speakers who will candidly share their journeys, stories, learnings, failures, heart breaks and successes. Attendees will be able to directly ask questions on the webinar to the Guest Speakers. Or just they can just come along and listen in the comfort of their workplace or home.


Is there a cost?

There is no cost to attend RAWomen. The forum is free to attend.


Is there paid Sponsorship of the Forum?

There is no paid Sponsorship of the Forum. The Forum will be supported by Fifth Quadrant, CBA and Sydney Women’s Fund as a joint initiative.


What’s the Tone of the Forum?

The tone of the Forum will be candid, honest and open. We will discuss issues facing women that other forums don’t address. Catriona will talk from the perspective of a self-employed woman and Karen from the perspective of a Corporate Senior Executive. There will be laughter, probably from Karen and tears, probably from Catriona…;)


Who will be the Guest Speakers?

Guest Speakers will include women who are publicly recognised as having been successful in Australia. Success, of course, can be defined in many ways across personal, business, government, community, family and health and happiness.


Some of the amazing speakers we will have on the program include:


Nova Peris, OAM, Senate Candidate and ex-Olympian

Jan Owen, OAM, CEO Foundation for Young Australians, Australia's Most Influential Woman, AFR & Westpac Award

Ann Sherry, OAM, CEO of Carnival Australia, Philanthropist

Dr Anita Heiss,Award winning Indigenous Author, Academic. Film maker

Wendy McCarthy AO, McCarthy Mentoring, Australia's most influential change agent re women, diversity and culture


Additionally speakers from communities such as women’s groups working at the grass roots level with women will be profiled so that we can tell the story of all women in Australia.


What will be the outcomes of the Forum?


The outcomes the Forum aims to achieve include:

1.          Connection of women to women across all demographics and life stage

2.          Raising awareness of women’s issues and needs

3.          Education and information on women’s issues particularly focused on work, relationships and family

4.          Provision of mentoring to women via an online forum

5.          Raising awareness in women re existing resources and support structures

6.          Women having one hour a month of quality women’s time


We have had an overwehlming response to the launch of RAWomen with hundreds of women already registered to attend. So we would love you to join us, at no cost - all you will need is to be able to login in to the webinar (easy to do) and there is an audio (phone bridge) in case you need.


How to register?


Please register at https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/732474233


Go the Girls!


And What not to Wear to the Webinar? You can wear anything you want - no-one will be able to see you. Totally be in your trackies. Even the Guest Speakers. Gold.

On 10 December 2012, the Australian Human Rights Commission awarded medals to Australia's most outstanding and influential Human Rights achievers. One such amazing person, was Krista McMeeken, a young Indigenous woman who took out the Young People's Human Rights Medal.




I sat with Krista at the event and since have interviewed Krista about the work she has done in Human Rights.


Here's how it went....


Krista, you were recently awarded Australia’s Young Person’s Human Rights Award, which is a brilliant achievement. Can you tell me about the work that you have done that has earned you this prestigious award?



I’ve been involved in the promotion and development of human rights, particularly children’s rights and the rights of Australia’s Indigenous people on a number of levels for a while now – it’s something I’m really passionate about and dedicate all of my spare time to.

Most recently, at a local level, I have spent a lot of time mentoring students, speaking about my own experiences and generally providing support to programs that seek to increase educational opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians such as Follow the Dream and The Academic Initiative.


I also act in a personal capacity through roles such as Miss NAIDOC 2011 and as a member of the Law Society’s Aboriginal Lawyers Committee to address systemic and policy issues affecting Australia’s Indigenous peoples as well as get positive messages out into both the Indigenous and the broader community. One of my most recent projects, in which I played but one part, was the organising of the National Indigenous Legal Conference 2012 in Perth which brings together bright and interested minds from all over Australia to discuss prominent legal and human rights issues affecting our people.

On a bigger scale, I joined the Child Rights Taskforce as an independent youth representative to help develop and coordinate and NGO response on the ground to the child rights committee of the UN in Geneva, this involved focusing on the experience of young Indigenous Australians at a national level by drawing on my own experience, the experiences of others I have heard first hand, national research and contributions from the rest of the team. It was definitely an experience, travelling to the other side of the world and hearing our experiences as Aboriginal people being translated into multiple languages before the committee in order to help shape and inform their questioning of the Australian government.


My next exciting project is being a part of the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Conference in Cairns 2013. In this case  I was lucky to not only be invited to sit on the expert advisory panel and develop the program for the conference, but also to speak at the closing address and to deliver the research of a colleague into the need to approach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in a holistic manner. 


None of the projects I get involved in are driven by me alone, and in many cases I am very lucky to be included as part of incredibly inspiring teams of dedicated people.



How do you think life is for most young Indigenous women in 2013? 


I think its improving – and I believe that should be the focus. It’s not all negative. We are being given increasingly strong role models to guide us, increasingly better and more varied opportunities to develop our own career paths, better opportunities to connect with culture on a larger scale and better recognition for the importance of our role in the community – which I believe leads to a better understanding of ourselves.


In saying that, there is still a long way to go – I believe some of the big issues facing young Indigenous women today include experiencing racism, a lack of support in schools and a lack of awareness of the opportunities available to us. I think we, as a community, need to focus on supporting the empowerment of all of our young women to reach their individual potential for their sake, and for the sake of their families and communities because stronger women means a stronger community.



In what ways do you think other perhaps older or more experienced women should support younger women?


In the ways they have supported me – culturally, by teaching them where they belong and their roles and connections to community including their cultural responsibilities; spiritually, by encouraging them to give new things a go and letting them know that you believe in them and by leading by example, I have been lucky to have so many strong women to look up to at home and in the community, and not just in the practice of law but as mothers, as mentors, as teachers.


I think the most important thing more experienced women can do to support younger women is share their knowledge – so that we can both reach the great heights they have and even push that ceiling a little bit higher. For me, nothing is more driving than the inspiration you feel when seeing a great mentor succeed.



And, what are your dreams for the future:



a)          for yourself, and

b)          for other young indigenous women



They're big, and probably not mutually exclusive.


They’re probably a little more elusive on a personal level, but maybe a career in politics? I’ve been admitted into legal practice now which was always my big goal and I’m still trying to make it as a member of the specialist reserves in our defence force (application pending). While I believe I will continue to reach new heights in my career and find bigger and better ways to have an impact on the lives of young Indigenous Australians, I think my biggest dream is to be happy! For right now, I’m really enjoying having made it to where I am and assessing where to go next, receiving this award has really helped me reflect on that.


For other young Indigenous Australians, particularly women, I want them to be able to find at least one person they can look up to as a role model personally and professionally and to feel inspired, to feel intelligent enough and strong enough to reach their potential, because our young women have so much to offer the Australian community, across all fields.


It really comes down to opportunity, young women being in a position where they can pick and choose what they want to do for themselves and for me that stems from education – having the opportunity to go to university if you want to, to travel and experience new cultures if you want to and to make a difference.


The day I walk down the street, go about my daily tasks, and come into contact with indigenous women who are at my local store, on my TV, in parliament, at my local bank, at my legal office, CEOs of my big clients, teaching in classrooms and just pursuing their dreams, whatever they may be, that is when I will know that dream is coming true.



Now, Australia’s Most Influential Woman, Jan Owen, told me in a previous blog that she would not wear fluoro clothing if she wanted to be influential….. so finally, what would you not wear in order for people to take you seriously as Australia’s Young People's Human Rights Award winner…;)?


I’m looking down at my mint green nail polish and thinking hmmm this doesn’t really scream serious, so perhaps I’d ditch the bright nail polish if I wanted to be taken seriously... but I’ll keep it on for today =)

What an extraordinary week this has been watching the public and media response to the Prime Minister's announcement of Nova Peris as the preferred Labor NT Candidate for the Senate.


Regardless of which side of politics you sit on - the machine that is politics is harsh, especially for women.


I have spent much time with Nova this week and I am with her in Canberra right now, along with Nova's husband Scott, and children Destiny and Jack.


Despite the fact that the selection of Nova should herald a new phase of politics not only for Indigenous people but for women and girls, the media and some of the public have chosen to dig up ridiculously trivial and unfounded accusations such as Nova unlawfully removing furniture from a government agency she worked for. Not true - the furniture was Nova's that she had lent to the department and she was instructed to remove it once she had finished her work there.


Just bizarre. And who cares? Not any other intelligent, considered woman - that's for sure.


The other area of considerable criticism was that Nova had tears whilst with the Prime Minister accepting the invitation to run for Senate.


Who the hell wouldn't tear up?


Perhaps the harder, more clinical women politicians of yesteryear? Who I am sure would have done anything to be able to express their emotions.


Indeed, I have a standard slide in all my public speaking presentations around philanthropy that says "Just a heads up - I am a crier". I will often tear up when dealing with topics related to women, children, Indigenous comumunities, Refugee communities or other people suffering hardship. Women and men with true heart for issues will show emotion. Even Hillary Clinton.....


Yesterday I was interviewed for a SMH article by Mark Kenny and I was prepared to answer questions about the community work Nova has been doing over the last 15 years however Mark only focused on how many marriages Nova had, what her emotional state was and whether she was actually married now.




I assured him that Nova was incrediblly emotionally resilient and had in the most caring and profound way recently nurtured her family through the sudden death of her ex-husband and father of Destiny and Jack, ex-Olympian, Daniel Batman. At the same time that this tradgedy was unfolding Nova was still running the Nova Peris Girls Academy supporting 80 Aboriginal girls.


So when are the media going to ask about Nova's intelligence, success in developing programs, success in being an extraordinary mother and grandmother?


I imagine this will happen next week once the smear campaign has bored everyone?


So, here is how I experience Nova - Nova has more power, strength and resilience than any of the public or media are able comprehend at this point and over the next few weeks we will see how this remarkable Australian continues to step up and overcome the criticisms thrown at her and demonstrate her worthiness. I hope the NT communities will see this and accept this.


But what does this series of events surrounding a Woman in Politics tell us? The Prime Minister's gutsy choice to select Nova, diverting from usual protocol and knowing that she would cop considerable flack especially from her own party, shows the strategy and cleverness of this woman leader. She had to do what she had to do.


Nova accepting the position knowing that she would be attacked and condemned by many - shows another gutsy woman willing to put herself on the line for the future betterment of other women and girls.


Let's hope that with Nova in the Senate later this year we experience real women, with real strength, real emotion and most importantly real intelligence running the country.


And on the day that Nova is formally appointed to the Senate I hope she tears up - because there will be many, many more of us women, regardless of our political persuasion, watching and doing the same.


Go Girl. x

Today the Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced Nova Peris, OAM, as the preferred Labor NT candidate for the Senate. This is a significant day for all women and girls in Australia as Nova will potentially be the first Aboriginal woman in Federal Parliament.


This is outstanding news.


Today Nova, supported by husband Scott and two of her three kids, Destiny (10) and Jack (9) stood in front of the media with the Prime Minister and humbly accepted the role. Jess, Nova's eldest child (21) was back in Darwin running the Nova Peris Girls Academy at St Johns College http://www.stjohnsnt.catholic.edu.au/about.php?id=56.


After the announcement today there was a number of questions from the media and public about Nova's experience beyond being a household name ex-Olympian.


I am very priveleged to have a close relationships with Nova, Scott and the kids, so I wanted to publicly share a number of Nova's achievements beyond athletics, which provide strong evidence that she is an excellent candidate for a Federal political role.


Over the last 15 years, Nova has worked extensively in community in roles of:


  • Promotional & advocacy campaigns for domestic violence, youth, depression, youth suicide
  • Delegate to the National Constitution Convention
  • National patron for Beyond Blue
  • National Treaty Ambassador and facilitator
  • International Indigenous Rights Ambassador – repatriation of human remains at Manchester UK Museum
  • International Ambassador for – World Health Organisation & Griffith University – Youth Suicide Prevention
  • National Ambassador for Reconciliation Australia
  • International Ambassador for ‘Hepatitis Australia’ – “World Hepatitis Day’
  • DoHA - Development of Communications Strategy and implementation strategy of the CHC
  • ‘Strong Community Life’ alcohol responsibility implementation strategy
  • NSW ‘Good 4 Kids – Good 4 Life’ - NSW Hunter Valley healthy eating campaign
  • Worked with FaHCSIA – Economic Development and CDEP reform branch
  • Worked with ‘Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies’ Media, Marketing & Events coordinator
  • KLC – Dampier Peninsula Land & Sea Planning Project – Land Tenure reform/ Governance and Land Use Planning 
  • Co-ordinated the 2011 – Long Walk; coordinated with the ‘Dreamtime at the G’
  • Co-ordinated the‘Learn – Earn - Legend’ Careers Expo
  • Set up 3 ‘Girls Academies’ on behalf of the Northern Territory Government – Nightcliff, Sanderson & Dripstone


Nova has also been the Vice President of Northern Territory Hockey, is acknowledged in the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island Hall of Fame and has written an autobiography “Nova – My Story”. Nova was named Young Australian of the Year in 1997 and was also awarded an Order of Australia Medal.

And of course, there are Nova's sporting achievements which cannot and should not be ignored....


Nova was a representative in the Australian Women's Hockey team at the 1996 Summer Olympics, becoming the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal. In 1997, Nova became a double gold medalist in the 1998 Commonwealth Games winning the 200m sprint and sharing in Australia's 4x100 metres relay win.  Nova continued to represent Australia on the athletics track, running over 200 metres at the 1999 World Athletics Championships and 400 metres at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Nova made the Olympic semi-finals in her individual event and ran in the Australian 4x400 metres relay team, which finished fifth.


But perhaps the most extraordinary achievement Nova has had that is the establishment of the Nova Peris Girls Academy (NGPA) in St Johns College, Darwin.


Over the last 3 years Nova has spent extensive time researching global best-in-class models of mentoring, supporting, educating and engaging young Indigenous girls. She then set up the NGPA which is an innovative female focused school ‘Life Excellence’ program aimed at keeping Aboriginal Girls’ engaged with education.


The NGPA is viewed as an intensive attendance, attainment and life skills development program. It utilises a range of learning tools developed by the South African Institute of Entrepreneurship customised exclusively for the NPGA.


These educational tools and mentoring methodologies encourage Aboriginal girls to develop the skills that are necessary to build their capacity whilst promoting and equipping the girls to take control of their own futures and fulfil their potential.

In the last 12 months at St Johns College about 80 Indigenous girls have had their lives supported and improved by Nova, Scott and Jess.


So, beyond being an athlete, Nova is a passionate advocate and supporter of Indigenous people, with extensive experience working with Aboriginal young people in remote and urban communities.


And in my assessment - Nova is one of the most well rounded, strong, sincere and hard working Australians I have ever met.


But beyond this - Nova is highly intelligent, exceptional at designing and delivering programs to improve individual's lives and communities, and will make an exceptional politician.


Super Nova? Definitely.


I am very priveleged to have a relationship with Jan Owen, CEO of Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) who was recently awarded Australia's Most Influential Woman in 2012, by the AFR and Westpac. Jan is an incredible woman, a role model to me - so much so that I am handing her my 21 year old son, Hunter, to undertake the Foundation for Young Australian's internshhip program in February...;)


I have conducted an interview with Jan to learn what makes Australia's Most Influential Woman.....


Jan,  you were recently Awarded The Australian Financial Review and Westpac Group ‘Woman of Influence’ 2012 which is an extraordinary achievement. In what areas have you been influential?


I believe there are 3 currencies in the world - money, power and love. Money is most often associated with business, power with politics and community with love. I have dealt in the currency of love all my life. I have worked in the community and for purpose sectors, with children and young people, since I was about 16 and in social enterprise, innovation, investment in this country for the past 20 years. I think it's spectacular that the currency of love won the inaugural Women of Influence Award in 2012.


Much of the work you have focused on has been with Young People. Why is this?

Australia is one of the most privileged countries on the planet. We have wealth beyond measure and opportunities others could only dream of.  We have our first nations, the oldest indigenous culture in the world which links us to land and family in profound ways, we have the highest income per capita in the world, the most extensive natural resources, a vast land mass and a diverse and rich mix of cultures.

We should be the innovation hub of the world, or at the very least in our region, across every discipline. Anything should be possible here.

It does not serve us, and it certainly does not serve our children and young people to think and play small. We need to be preparing them - girls and boys - for constant and evolving economic, social, cultural and environmental change in Australia and the region. We want our young women and men to be confident, connected, entrepreneurial, innovative, optimistic and generous. We want them to be loved and happy. This is a true and worthy investment.


It begins with equitable education - the critical level playing field; it also means giving young people the opportunity to contribute, whoever and wherever they are, to building the kind of community they want to live in; and finally it means backing them and their ideas for change.


This is what we do at FYA and we are relentlessly optimistic about the young people of this country. Their capacity and capability to envisage and then co-create the country and world they want to live in. Our collective responsibility is to tell them who we are, what we value and stand for as a nation, and to invest now in their future.

I believe it would be incredibly short sighted not to invest in and see the importance of those who are coming up behind us.


You are widely regarded as a very successful Social Entrepreneur. Exactly, what is a Social Entrepreneur?

I didn't know I was a social entrepreneur until someone called me one about 10 or so years ago! It was a term which came out of the UK. Basically a social entrepreneur is someone who, like a business entrepreneur, has an idea ( usually many of them!) for a better, smarter or more efficient way to do things. In the case of social entrepreneurs it is usually around social issue which needs to be addressed and then working out not only how to make things better for one person but how to transform the system around the issue permanently.

I am also aware that you are the only non-US citizen to receive a fellowship for leadership and innovation from the Peter Drucker Foundation in the USA. How did this come about?

One of my colleagues in Australia nominated me when I was CEO of the CREATE Foundation, the consumer group for children and young people in state care which I founded in 1993. I was incredibly surprised and grateful to become a Fellow with leaders from large institutions and innovative non-profits from across the US. It was my first exposure to Peter Drucker's world leading management theory and his ideas for why this was important in the non-profit sector. Peter's protégés included thought leaders such as Jim Collins and Peter Senge, so we were incredibly privileged to meet with these kind of people on the program.

The actual fellowship program was named after, and led by, Frances Hesselbein who is an amazing woman of influence in the US and across the world and who has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honour for her leadership. It was also the first time I saw, in action, business, community and government co-investment in social change through scaling successful ventures. I was completely sold and couldn't wait to see this model develop in Australia.


What would be your advice to women who would like to be more influential or have a greater social impact?

I came from a highly academic and extremely well read family, however I was neither a scholar nor even a decent student. Coming from this background as an entrepreneur, it took me a long time to feel comfortable with who I was and what I had to contribute to the world. It was only after I finally met a friend, who also happened to be a coach, that I came to really understand and value my mix of skills and capabilities. He said to me: "There are many literacies Jan, and you have more than your fair share". He went on to detail what he had witnessed as unique in my leadership and relationships with others. Receiving skilled, thought provoking and independent feedback for the first time in my life had a profound impact on me.

So this is my advice, don't hesitate to ask for help and advice! I wasted way too many years trying to be superwoman and thinking it would be a sign of weakness if I put my hand up. On the contrary, it turns out to be a sign of true self awareness, humility and openness to learning.


Finally, Jan, what would you not wear if you were trying to be influential? ..;)

I believe how you dress is an expression of your individuality and so we should definitely avoid becoming slaves to fashion! However, in my book, fluoros and anything covered in diamantés is just not on if you want to be taken seriously :-))


So there you have it - straight from Australia's most influential woman...What Not To Wear ... when trying to be influential? Fluoro and diamontes. Well, there goes the Sass & Bide fluoro pants and jacket and Ginger & Smart fluoro pink pants I just bought....d'oh!


Thanks Jan... you are amazing.

Catriona Wallace

Women in IT Start Ups

By Catriona Wallace   |   Published Nov 28, 2012

I am about to start a new business - an IT start up titled (for the time being) Project Flamingo. Flamingo will be a consumer advocacy site, best described as...


Project Flamingo is a “fourth party provider” two sided marketplace that empowers consumers to take control over both their purchasing decisions and relationships with organisations they are customers of. It provides Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) tools to consumers. It also provides a platform and new channel to enable vendors to create better relationships with their customers, to acquire new customers and to monitor defecting customers. The site encourages collective buying and aggregated purchasing and enables disadvantaged communities to engage with vendors on more favourable terms.


So, I am now, like, starting to hang out with other women IT start up legends including Pascale Helyar-Moray from Style Rocks http://www.stylerocks.com/

And one of the things I am learning very quickly, and Pascale already knows, is that the IT start up world is heavily male oriented, it is difficult to find good female mentors and female investors are few and far between.


There are some superstars including Melissa Widner, Michelle Deaker and Dr Jana Matthews but really these women are as rare as hens teeth.

The other real challenge is the backlash women entrepreneurs get from other women. Indeed I have just finished writing a curt post to a person who has commented on the SMH article that was written about Pascale 



Pascale notes in the article that one key factor in her success in the last year is employing an Au Pair.


Then some whining person (we think woman) slams Pascale with a comment about Pascale having a husband who must fund the Au Pair....


Seriously, why do we women keep doing this? Why are women not backing other women?


Perhaps in this case the woman who commented negatively had experienced a difficult time herself balancing business and children. Well, truly, I don't know a woman who hasn't, myself included. I am currently in New Zealand working whilst my 8 year old is giving a speech at an event I am meant to be at and my 10 year old is at the final hockey game of the season...  games of which I saw ....none. Seriously, it never ends.


So, the only way we women are to succeed en-masse is if we put our primal need for competition with eachother (which should have been left with the cave women) on hold and back each other. In everything.


And Pascale and I are so passionate about this we are currently planning to set up some Women Investor Groups. Out-bloody-standing. We will keep you posted.


And What Not to Wear when you are an IT Start Up Woman? Anything that reaks of corporate. So far I am observing flat, canvas shoes, quirky handbags, jeans, pony-tails and tee-shirts. How on earth will I do that. I don't own flat shoes...

On Sunday 9 December in company with the Human Rights Commissioner, Disabilities, Graeme Innes, internationally acclaimed Aboriginal Author, Anita Heiss, the Founder of MultiLit, Professor Kevin Wheldall, Author Wendy Fitzgferald, Chair of Sydney Community Foundation, Ros Strong OAM, and 10 year old Indigo Wallace-Knight, we will be launching a new book called Indigo Solves the Pzulze.


The book has been written by Wendy Fitzgerald and illustrated by Sophie Norsa and tells the true story of 10 year old Indigo Wallace-Knight, her struggles with Dyslexia and her resolve to overcome her disability and to assist other children who have literacy challenges.


Part of Indigo's story involves her setting up the Indigo Express Fund, (www.indigoexpress.org.au) a sub-fund of Sydney Women's Fund, which now partners with the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence to deliver literacy assessments and tutoring for Indigenous young people.

All proceeds from the launch and the sale of the books will go to the Indigo Express Fund, a subfund of the Sydney Community Foundation.

We would love you to attend. It's free.


Kids welcome. Encouraged in fact.

The event details are:

Sunday 9th December 2012

10:30 am to 12 midday

National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE)

180 George Street, Redfern, NSW 2016


Please rsvp if you are able to attend the event to Soon Lim, slim@fifthquadrant.com.au or 02 99273339.

For more information please contact:

Dr Catriona Wallace

Email: cwallace@fifthquadrant.com.au

Phone: 0412 181 284


Last weekend I went to Gwinganna Health Retreat at the Gold Coast with my friend Tracey. We attended a Women's Discovery Weekend.


Truth be known I had not thought too much about what I was going to or needed to discover - other than the fact that I think that we women are regularly conjoled into believing we are overly tired, adrenally exhausted and about to collapse, when perhaps..... we are not?


Anyway let me tell you how discovering the woman within went...


Trace picked me up from work in Sydney midday Friday. I could not talk to Trace as she drove to the airport as I was on constant conference calls. When we were in the airport lounge - no conversation as I was trying to do some deals over the phone.


We got on the plane, flew to the Gold Coast then got in a limo to go to the retreat. Again me constantly on the phone the whole trip up the mountain.


Then we arrived at Gwinganna and this is how the conversation went:


Trace: "Will you put that bloody phone away now as we are about to have our Wellness Assessment".


Me: "Yes, there is no reception - that's going to be bloody annoying"


Wellness Assessor:" Welcome to the Spa. What are your goals?"


Me:" Well, gosh, that would be to become incredibly wealthy and then give money away to women and girls"


Wellness Assessor: [annoyed tone] "I mean for the 3 days here at the Spa"


Me: "Oh, right, hadn't thought about that. Well, um, crikey, ok, how about - have a rest?"


Wellness Assessor: "Is that it?"


Me: "Yep"


Wellness Assessor: "Do you not have any other problems you want to overcome?"


Me: "Nope. Should I?


Wellness Assessor: [more annoyed] "What therapies do you want to do?"


Me: "Oh right, yes, definitely the Equine Therapy"


[Bloggers note: here is what is written about the Equine Therapy -


Guided by our equine specialist you will experience an insightful, interactive journey with one of our horses. You will be amazed at what insight and reflection is brought to your attention. Horses read your body language and feel your energy, they literally mirror human emotions and react accordingly offering you an instant perspective on your ability to communicate non-verbally .... blah... blah...blah.....]


Wellness Assessor: "Well, yes, that is one of our signature treatments"


Me: "Seriously?? I was only kidding. I think the notion of Equine Therapy is ridiculous and I thought it was some sort of joke"


Wellness Assessor: [extremely annoyed] "I will have you know that many people benefit greatly from horse therapy and the treatment is totally booked out"


Me: "You cannot be serious?"


Wellness Assessor: "I am VERY serious"


Me: "Ok, ok, I forgot that there is no humour in women's retreats as we are discovering the woman within and all her problems. I will stop messing around and be serious"


Me leaning over to Trace who is sitting rolling her eyes: "Oh no I won't. Why is everything to do with women's health so deathly serious? I know many women have serious health issues and I am not making light of that - but why is there not more lightness?"


And there it was - the question I have....


Why when women are together in groups do we tend to be so serious? Why do people constantly tell we busy working mums that we must be about to break down, be exhausted, be about to experience renal or adrenal failure.


The greatest insight I ever got at a health retreat was when I went to a Natropath and he tested me and said, "Actually despite what everyone tells you, you are fighting fit and could actually handle doing more if you chose to"


Brilliant. Changed my whole approach to things.


So why don't we think in both these ways? So then when at a health retreat we should think about:


1) what you need to do to heal etc, but also


2) what is really good and healthy and positive about you that you can celebrate and get energy from.


And then laugh. And cry. And laugh again.


And even right through to the last night when I sat at the table with other women and said, "I think I have a girl-crush on the female Yoga instructor" Trace guffawed and the rest of the women looked dumbstruck. Three days and still no humour.


Seriously.... I am joking.....


And what Not What to Wear whilst discovering the woman within? Pencil Skirts. These make it very difficult to get on the horse.....

Last Friday in company with Quentin Bryce, the Governor General, and team from Sydney women's Fund I visited the Liverpool Youth Accomodation Assistance Centre http://www.lyaac.org.au/ where we talked to young women who had babies as teenagers and had come to the centre for refuge. Most of the girls were 17-19 with babies up to 3 years of age and had been kicked out of home as a result of being pregnant. Devastating.


What was extraordinary was that these courageous young women didn't go on about their hardship instead they talked of their ambitions and their plans to become educated. Many were already studying.


Quite extraordinary. No talk of deficit or victimisation just discussion about how hard they were working to better themselves and the lives of their babes.


The Governor General was the perfect person to share stories of being raised in the country and some of the hardships she faced as a working mother.


And I was just permanently staring at the GG figuring out how she could be so elegant yet so down to earth. Beautiful.


We also went to the Warwick Farm community centre where there is an amazing woman, Pat Hall, who has put in place work programs for women who have been suffered great hardship and have been long term unemployed. These women have been trained as Baristas and now work for the first time making coffee in the community centre. Spectacular.


Shame the government has just canned TAFE funding which provided the training for these women. Diabolical.


We will continue to work with these various women's groups to see if we can support and connect them with women like the WIF women, which means so much to them. Let me know if you would like to be involved.


And What not to Wear when with the Governor General? Like anything remotely blokey eg pants ... She is seriously in the Grace Kelly league of elegance. Maybe one day we women can scrape the dried weetbix off our shoulders and too aspire to supreme elegance. I am seriously a long way from that and hope that the GG never reads the blog where I had to stick a panty liner on my foot....

Catriona Wallace

100 Women of Influence

By Catriona Wallace   |   Published Oct 18, 2012

Righto, I am still on the trail of identifying the AFR and Westpac 100 most influential women and below is the published list.....




The 100 Women of Influence:

Young Leader

Abdel-Magied, Yassmin

Founder, President, Youth Without Borders


Board & Management

Argaman, Rachel

CEO, Toga Hospitality


Public Policy

Armstrong, Leah

CEO, Reconciliation Australia


Social Enterprise

Badcoe, Carey

CEO Australian Business and Community Network



Beachley, Layne

Founder, Aim for the Stars Foundation



Beazley, Margaret

Judge, NSW Court of Appeal


Young Leader

Briody, Felicity

Water Resources Engineer, AECOM


Public Policy

Bruniges, Michele

Director-General Education and Communities, MD TAFE, NSW



Burns, Jane

CEO, Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre



Burns, Maggie

Co-Founder and Director, Appin Hall Children's Foundation


Social Enterprise

Callister, Sharon

CEO, Salvation Army Aged Care Plus


Business Entrepreneur

Cameron, Christine

Co-owner and director, Rockcote Enterprises


Public Policy

Casey, Dawn

Director, Powerhouse Museum



Chauncy, Annabelle

Co-founder and Managing Director, School for Life Foundation Ltd


Young Leader

Cheng, Marita

Founder and Director, Robogals



Clark, Megan

Chief Executive CSIRO


Board & Management

Cobley, Lyn

Group Treasurer, CBA



Conway, Deborah

Artistic director and musician


Board & Management

Cook, Sharon

Managing Partner, Henry Davis York



Cory, Suzanne

President, Australian Academy of Science


Young Leader

Cran, Samantha

CEO, One Disease at a Time



Crawford, Annie

Founder and Director, Can Too Run and Swim



Dadon, Debbie

Director, Highpoint Property Group and Executive Officer, Besen Family Foundation


Business Entrepreneur

Davenport, Liz

MD Liz Davenport Pty Ltd


Board & Management

Dee-Bradbury, Rebecca

CEO Kraft Foods Australia



Dodd, Moya

Vice-President, Asian Football Confederation, Partner, Gilbert and Tobin Lawyers


Social Enterprise

Donnelly, Merinda

Indigenous program officer, Australia Council for the Arts



Dvorak, Suzanne

CEO, Save the Children



Eastland, Elizabeth

Director Commercial Research and Tech Transfer, University of Wollongong



Elliott, Elizabeth

Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney



Exel, Audette

Founder and CEO, ISIS Group



Fitzpatrick, Lesley

CEO, Australian Rural Leadership Foundation



Flood, Nadine

National Secretary, CPSU


Board & Management

Foley, Marianne

Principal, Sydney Office Leader Arup


Board & Management

Gillies, Helen

General Manager, Risk SKM and Corporate Counsel


Public Policy

Goldie, Cassandra

CEO, Australian Council of Social Service


Business Entrepreneur

Gunn, Catherine (Kate)

Founder and Director, Balance! Healthcare Pty Ltd



Hansen, Justine

Promotion Co-ordinator, Women's Health Service (Tom Price)



Harley, Felicity

Editor, Women's Health


Public Policy

Hodges, Jacky

Regional Director WA, Australian Bureau of Statistics


Social Enterprise

Honor Lloyd, Elizabeth

Member, Ministerial Council of Asylum Seekers, Chair of Violence Against Women Advisory Group



Hosch, Tanya

Consultant and director


Public Policy

Houghton, Megan

CEO, CitySmart Pty Ltd



Jinks, Barbara

Vice-Chair Gas marketing committee, International Gas Union



Johnson, Alana

Founder, Rural Women's Network


Social Enterprise

Kahn, Ronni

Founder, Oz Harvest


Board & Management

Kelly, Cassandra

Joint CEO Pottinger



Lewitan, Rachelle

Judge, County Court of Victoria


Young Leader

Long, April

National Manager, National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy


Board & Management

Lumlock, Becky

Vice President, QGC Asset Management, BG Australia


Board & Management

Madew, Romilly

CEO Green Building Council of Australia


Social Enterprise

Mahlab, Karen

CEO, Pro Bono Australia



Maiorano, Serafina

CEO, Advance


Board & Management

Mather, Kerrie

Chief Executive, Sydney Airport


Board & Management

Matton, Janet

Vice President Operations, IBM Australia/NZ


Business Entrepreneur

May, Tammy

Director MyBudget


Board & Management

McFadden, Vikki

Director Skilled Group


Board & Management

McGrath, Lyn

Executive General Manager, Retail Sales, CBA


Public Policy

McGregor, Carmel

Deputy Secretary People Strategies and Policy, Department of Defence



Medd, Ruth

Joint Founder and Chair, Women on Boards


Board & Management

Moses, Karen

Executive Director, Finance and Strategy, Origin Energy


Board & Management

Mostyn, Sam

Director Virgin Australia, Transurban, Citigroup Australia, AFL Commissioner


Young Leader

Orsini, Bianca

Territorial Oasis Schools Liaison, The Salvation Army


Social Enterprise

Owen, Jan

CEO, Foundation for Young Australians


Social Enterprise

Parker, Kirstie

Managing Editor Koori Mail



Pratt, Jeanne

Co-founder, The Pratt Foundation, Chair The Production Company


Business Entrepreneur

Preston, Leanne

CEO, Wild Child (WA) Pty Ltd



Randell, Shirley Kaye

Founder and Director, Centre for Gender, Culture and Development (KIE) Rwanda


Young Leader

Ransom, Holly

Business Analyst, Rio Tinto


Public Policy

Raper, Judy

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) University of Wollongong



Raymond, Fran

Director, Defence Bank and UN Women, General Manager Corporate (COO and CFO) Rural Industries and Research Development Corporation



Raymond, Melanie

Chair, Youth Projects Ltd


Public Policy

Reynolds, Fiona

CEO, Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees


Public Policy

Rubenstein, Kim

Director, Centre for International and Public Law, ANU




Chairman, Qualitas and director Stockland


Social Enterprise

Scott, Rebecca



Board & Management

Segal, Jillan

Director NAB Ltd, ASX Ltd


Board & Management

Shanahan, Brenda



Public Policy

Sheil, Margaret

Provost, University of Melbourne



Shewring, Fiona

Founder and President, Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen



Silva, Miriam

Former GM Commercial Operations, Elders; Deputy chair SA Training and Skills Commission


Public Policy

Silver, Helen

Secretary Dept Premier and Cabinet, Victoria



Sisia, Gemma

Founder and Director, The School of St Jude


Social Enterprise

Sizer, Jodie

National director, Ingenuity Australia


Board & Management

Skira, Eva

Chairman, Water Corporation; Deputy Chancellor, Murdoch University


Public Policy

Staib, Margaret

Former Commander Joint Logistics Australian Defence Force; incoming CEO Air Services Australia


Public Policy

Stutsel, Melanie

Director, Health, Safety, Environment and Community Policy MCA



Thompson, Clare

Director, Aboriginal Women's Legal Education Trust



Torres, Vanessa

VP Group Planning, BHP Billiton



Visvader, Jane

Joint head, Division of Stem Cells and Cancer and the Breast Cancer Laboratory, Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research


Board & Management

Wakefield-Evans, Nicola

Partner, King & Wood Mallesons, Director Toll Holdings Group Ltd


Social Enterprise

Walker, Natalie

CEO Australian Indigenous Minority Suppliers Council


Business Entrepreneur

Waterhouse, Gai

Gai Waterhouse Stables


Board & Management

Westacott, Jennifer

CEO, Business Council of Australia



Whitehead, Janelle

CEO, Murdi Paaki Regional Enterprise Corporation Ltd


Board & Management

Whiting, Janet

Partner, Corrs Chambers Westgarth


Business Entrepreneur

Whitlam, Anna

Director, Anna Whitlam People Pty Ltd



Wilkes, Deb

Executive Manager Community Development, Shire of Ashburton


Board & Management

Wilson, Jane

Director Sonic Healthcare Ltd, Universal Biosensors Inc, CathRx Ltd.



Young, Nareen

CEO, Diversity Council of Australia