The MLC community came together for the esteemed ‘Women of Influence’ brunch at Leonda By The Yarra on Sunday, 21 May.
The biennial event, organised by the Parents’ Association and Advancement teams, is designed to celebrate inspiring women in their fields, and provide a platform in which current students from Year 5 onwards can have the opportunity to interaction with such women. What makes this event even more special is that every guest speaker is a member of MLC’s strong alumnae community.
As it was an opportunity to rub shoulders with a room full of accomplished industry leaders, Cec Reid (Year 10) was eager to be part of the day.
Importantly, students were able to volunteer to be table hosts, giving them the opportunity to further their leadership and networking skills, practice public speaking and hosting round-table discussions with their table’s ‘woman of influence’.
Being a host was a great experience for Cec, who is a current boarder but was joined by her mother at the brunch. “We had four training sessions beforehand,” she describes. “These taught us how to think of the right interview questions to ask our guest, and how to hold a discussion and engage with the other members of the table. We also had to introduce our guest, which was shown up on the big screen in the room, and ask them a question that everyone would find interesting and inspiring.” Though she had previously undertaken other roles of leadership at MLC such as the Middle School SRC, this was a whole new experience.
With each of the 32 tables hosting a different guest, there was representation from across a broad range of industries. These guests included:
- Amanda McKenzie (2000), CEO of the Climate Council
- Davida Forshaw (1980), international pilot, writer, speaker and mentor
- Gabrielle Lim (2008), entrepreneur, Telstra Young Business Women's Awards Victorian Finalist
- Nicolette Stathopoulos (2014), pastry chef, Masterchef's 2016 youngest contestant
- Kate Axup (1988), partner at Allens, one of Australia's largest commercial law firms
- Andrea Goldsmith (1967), novelist, teacher and mentor. Shortlisted for the 2003 Miles Franklin Award.
Notably, many of the women had succeeded in typically male-dominated industries.
“She was so cool!” Cec says of Amanda, this year's keynote speaker. “It was great to hear how she got into environmental issues in her early 20s, and her journey from there.”
Cec was enthusiastic to host Lucia Cade, who completed a Masters of Engineering Science and an MBA, and is now an experienced non-executive chairman, independent director and corporate advisor.
“I’ve thought for a little while that engineering might be an interesting career path,” Cec says. “Lucia explained about the broad range of things that engineering can involve, including how creative it can be! She was also really interested in hearing about us as students and was just so nice to talk to.”
What was particularly heartening to learn, Cec also added, was that Lucia herself didn’t know what she wanted to do when she was finishing school. “It’s so easy to read about successful people but still not truly understand how they got there,” the student says. “But many of the speakers showed that they all took different pathways to get to where they did, which was really encouraging to learn about.”
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