Amazing Female Leaders – Why aren’t we seeing more?

Gender inequality is still particularly evident in leadership roles, with a great deal of public interest around more women becoming leaders and how we can #BreakTheBias. 

Historically, in order to become successful in the workplace, women were encouraged to “be like men” and emulate male characteristic traits for success. However as gender definitions are evolving, women are given more freedom to just be their amazing selves.

Research into the roles of female leaders has also shown that, not only are women damn good leaders – there’s a lot which men can learn to be “more like a woman” that can be extremely effective within a leadership role.

This means gender differences in what it takes to be an effective leader are out of sync with gender differences in leadership emergence. It’s time for this to change.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we brought together an all star panel featuring some very influential female leaders who discussed how women (and men) can work to close the gap in gender representation in the workplace and how we can work together to help #BreakTheBias. 

Our very own Associate Director APAC, Annabel Gray facilitated an all star panel of amazing female leaders including:

  • Nicola Clement – General Manager Omni Experience, MYER
  • Julie Mathers – Founder of Flora & Fauna
  • Sali Sasi – Co-Founder Her Black Book and Stylerunner
  • Angela Heise – Leadership Coach and Female Leadership Lecturer

If you missed out on the session you can watch the recording by registering below. It was definitely a session not to be missed as the speakers shared their personal experiences and some of the most impactful areas which have helped shape their careers!

Access the recording


Speaker Bios

Nicola Clement – General Manager Omni Experience MYER

Nicola is a highly commercial senior marketing executive, with more than 20 years’ experience across international markets within the retail, travel, and services industries. 

Throughout these years, Nicola has had multi-million-dollar P&L responsibility and ownership of digital strategy, eCommerce, digital marketing, innovation, design, customer experience, social, mobile, and service channels for several brands including MYER, Jetstar, Smiggle, Forever New, Kathmandu, Telstra, and Quiksilver/Roxy/DC Shoes. To back up all of this incredible experience, she was recently named one of the top 50 people in Australian e-commerce for 2020.

Nicola aims to align business units in the digital and omni-channel space to achieve profitable strategic objectives. She is experienced in driving business change and transformation, rapid growth in sales, international expansion, brand awareness, and customer experience through digital and traditional channels, as well as creating greater efficiencies and economies of scale.


Julie Mathers – Founder of Flora & Fauna

Julie Mathers is the Founder of Flora & Fauna. Flora & Fauna is Australia’s largest eco store; it’s also a platform for purpose being driven by purpose and values. 

Julie founded Flora & Fauna 7+ years ago with a clear vision to be the most responsible retailer possible with the best customer service. 

Flora & Fauna was named Most Sustainable Retailer at the Power Retail 2020 and 2021 Awards, Best Small Online Retailer at the 2018 ORIAs and won Telstra Small Business of the Year for NSW in 2018. Flora & Fauna is also a proud BCorp. Flora & Fauna is 100% carbon offset, has saved over 30 tonnes of plastic from hitting landfill by shipping orders plastic-free, offers a recycling scheme and has lots of charity partnerships.  

Julie has a strong personal desire to create change for the better and frequently mentors and speaks about responsible retailing and small business. She also invests in sustainable businesses and sits on boards including the National Retail Association. Julie was named Number 1 in the 2021 and 2019 “Top 50 People in Australian eCommerce” and Business Person of the at the 2018 Gala Awards. 

Prior to founding Flora & Fauna, Julie has worked in the UK, Europe, Asia and now Australia for the last twelve years. She has worked in consulting, private equity and with many retailers, including senior leadership roles in Woolworths, Coles and APG & Co. 


Sali Sasi – co-Founder Her Black Book and Stylerunner

Sali is the Co-creator of Shopping & Discovery App + Digital Magazine, Her Black Book – offering the best deals and iconic brands across Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle, Travel. In 2012, along with her twin sister, she Co-founded e-commerce company Stylerunner, forever disrupting the women’s sportswear industry in their wake and earning them a cult following. With over a decade of retail and hospitality experience behind her, Sali’s been applying the lessons learnt to help retailers drive financial targets whilst protecting brand integrity.


Angela Heise – Leadership Coach and Female Leadership Lecturer

Coach and Trainer Angela Heise has spent her whole life dedicated to understanding the ‘why’ behind human behaviour, offering insight and practical tools to help her clients improve their lives by better understanding themselves and others.

Working with individuals and organisations, Angela has been helping people develop greater strength in the areas of leadership, cultural and emotional intelligence for over twenty-five years. She is the creator of the Emotional Productivity® and Global Village SkillsTM programs. 

Her work is her life’s passion, so many of Angela’s personal interests echo her career – meeting new people, travelling the world, and looking for new experiences and challenges. Angela was born with itchy feet, and started exploring the world at an early age. So far, Angela has lived in ten, worked in seventeen, and travelled in over fifty countries.


Session Q&A

Any advice on how to improve confidence? 

Own what you already know how to do well. It’s the ability to transfer it into the context where you think you don’t have it. Remember what you already know. When you remember what you do know, you’re actually training your brain to focus on your strengths and rather than your weaknesses. 

Don’t be afraid of rejection or failure. You just have to keep persevering and you have to have that never give up attitude. When you change your mindset around the way you view and do things, it naturally gives you that sense of self confidence. 


Did you have mentors throughout your careers? How valuable is having a mentor and how do you approach/find one?

Mentors have been really critical for me as they have been a great sounding board, they help me keep things a bit more calm and steady and help me work through some of my problems. In terms of finding them, keep your eyes open for opportunities and just ask. I mentor lots of people and I find that really rewarding to be able to see the changes and how their career has grown over time. We all know that we’ve got to support each other in order to be able to grow and mentor the next generation. Lots of people will put their hands up if you ask. 

I would recommend industry associations, look at who’s out there and who would be interested. I encourage you to have at least one conversation, and if that develops into a longer relationship, wonderful. But one conversation can shift your life dramatically. Check on LinkedIn, connect with people, start building a relationship and see if you resonate on some level. There are lots of opportunities. 

I put mentors in 2 categories – long-term mentors, where you spend an hour or 2 on a weekly basis and you workshop in detail what does your week look like, what does the future look like, what are the things we need to work on, really quite in depth, involved and a lot of strategy involved around it. Short-term mentors are people in the industry who you can reach out to and ask if you could meet up for coffee and pick their brain on something specific. Don’t be afraid to reach out and take what you can get. Sometimes it may be a quick conversation, or you might just ask that one critical question that you need some advice on, or you might be able to establish that relationship in the long-term that is really about professional and personal development with a lot of strategy and very much outcome based.


Is there any advice you would give to women in negotiating their pay before starting a new role?

For many of us it is quite uncomfortable to be upfront with what you want. I think you need to be ok with being uncomfortable when you’re talking about money and you need to set your expectations from the beginning, whether it’s flexible working, salary, whatever it is, set your expectations, because men will. It does come back to the confidence piece, but know what your worth is and ask for your worth.

One piece of advice I would give is to try to find that right ballpark. Ask the recruiter/company what is the salary guide for the role upfront. Save your own time as well as the recruiters time and be aligned on that number upfront. 


Breaking the bias can seem like such a huge challenge it’s hard to know where to start. What small steps can we put into action today to get the ball rolling for the women of tomorrow?

We can all call out poor behaviour when we see it, even if that makes us uncomfortable. If we accept bias it will continue. 


Do you think maternity leave will affect a woman’s career? (for example fewer chances of being promoted or getting hired again after a break)

Right now, as a general rule, yes. This is where bias comes in. It shouldn’t but I have seen too many examples where it absolutely has. A friend of mine is a doctor and she has had a terrible time being recognised after her maternity leave as there is a question around her commitment. It’s terrible and shouldn’t happen but still does. Again we need good mentors to help with this and we need leaders who think differently. 


Women are still very underrepresented, especially in tech leadership. Any advice for women in tech specifically?

Build a community of like minded tech women. If you can do that within your organisation it helps create momentum. There’s also a great organisation called Girls in Tech. Get yourself along to that.


Additional Resources

Some useful resources:

  • Angela Heise – professional leadership and Emotional Productivity coach
  • Girls in Tech – nonprofit organisation dedicated to eliminating the gender gap in tech
  • Tech Ladies – worldwide community with 100,000 members, helping Tech Ladies grow their careers
  • SheMentors – mentoring network & community for women in business

Some interesting reads:



18 Mar 2022