Inspiring women in business


7th March, 2022

International Women’s Day: 10 inspiring women in business

Join us this International Women’s Day by celebrating the achievements of inspiring women in business across Australia and New Zealand.

More than a third (34 percent) of Australian businesses are operated by women.

It’s a similar number in New Zealand, where women make up one in three business owners – the fourth highest rate in the world (33 percent).

To celebrate International Women’s Day, MYOB is highlighting 10 inspiring women in business. The annual day, which is set aside to celebrate women’s achievements and reinforce a commitment to women’s equality, will be held tomorrow, 8 March.

The theme for 2022, ‘Break the bias’, highlights the importance of focusing on creating a gender equal world, free from prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination.

We think the below list of women are excellent exemplars of this ethos and make for excellent role models for other women in business seeking to get ahead.

Emily Duggan, Australian V8 race car driver

Despite only starting her career five years ago, Emily Duggan is Australia’s leading female racing car driver. Her dedication and work ethics have paved the way for this talented and fast driver to succeed both on and off the track.

What you may not realise is that many drivers, just like many other solo sportspeople, manage their career as a business – and Emily is no different.

She has worked tirelessly to prove the doubters wrong since finishing high school, overcoming a number of issues due to sheer determination, including a lack of family support, industry knowledge and financial backing.

Determined to overcome obstacles, Emily bought herself her own race car and started competing full-time in 2014, despite having no prior race experience. She has since gone on to achieve 26 podium finishes in her category.

Prisca Ongonga-Daehn, Baresop

Prisca Ongonga-Daehn
Prisca Ongonga-Daehn is breaking the bias with her skincare product business, Baresop. Image: Supplied.

Three years ago, this inspiring Melburnian launched a company that has revolutionised the personal care industry.

Prisca set out to eliminate the need for single use plastic packaging to reduce waste in body care single use plastic waste. Conversations with others revealed that they were just as frustrated as she was, so she embarked on a journey to search for an answer, launching Baresop.

It’s a long way from when she began – first working as a journalist, moving into public relations and recruitment before starting her own business. As a solo founder, she’s realised that you have to wear many hats, admitting she’s in charge of marketing, handling suppliers and all external collaboration.

Mandy Richards, Global Sisters

This social entrepreneur is fiercely passionate about human rights, animal welfare, eradicating poverty and empowering women.

She established Global Sisters to democratise entrepreneurship, with the goal of creating a scalable and efficient model for supporting women to create an income stream via self employment.

By removing the structural and systemic barriers they commonly face, Global Sisters enables female entrepreneurs to connect and be part of a community.

Mandy has had a varied career path, spanning the commercial and not-for-profit sector, and working internationally on government business incubation programs in Botswana and New Zealand, and also for charities.

Ashleigh Pengelly, Little Black Duck

This Aboriginal-owned one-woman-show combines a range of mediums and surfaces to create a memorable brand of functional art.

Ashleigh, who’s an artist, creative, and mother, was born and bred in Wagga Wagga in regional NSW, Wiradjuri Country. While she’s always been creative, she’s only ventured into creating artworks after an opportunity presented itself when she was sitting on the Wagga NAIDOC Committee in 2014.

After painting some blank masks for a local event, she fell in love with creating unique pieces, combining modern colours with Aboriginal patterns on unique items. She now runs Little Black Duck and has big plans for the future.

As a result, we think Ashleigh makes an excellent example of breaking the bias not only for women-led businesses, but also when it comes to Indigenous business ownership, too.

Paris Young, Pascal Satori

Paris Young
Paris Young, founder of Pascal Sartori. Image: supplied.

Paris is only in her early 30s, and already runs three businesses, two of which she owns (including her husband’s construction company.

She is a passionate advocate for women in business, and is a member of the Women4Women committee – and is in the process of growing and developing an all-female team.

With a background in visual culture, design, anthropology and branding, she founded Pascal Satori in 2017, which offers design and marketing services to small businesses and startups. The business employs seven people.

Brooke Roberts, Sharesies

Brooke Roberts
Brooke Roberts is Co-founder and Director of the Kiwi-based startup, Sharesies. Image: Supplied.

Brooke Roberts is one of New Zealand’s proudest female entrepreneurs. She is a co-founder of micro-investing platform Sharesies, which was founded with a vision to give someone with $5 the same investment opportunities as someone with $5 million.

The platform has filled a gap in the market, with over 440,000 users across Australia and New Zealand, and collectively more than $1.7 billion of investments on the platform.

Brooke was the joint winner of the 2020 New Zealand Women of Influence Award in the Business Enterprise section.

Maru Nihoniho, Metia Interactive

Maru is making waves on the local tech scene in New Zealand, receiving accolades for her video games made via her game development and design company, Metia Interactive.

This inspiring woman founded an award-winning game design and development studio in 2003, which is based in Auckland, New Zealand. The business has a strong focus on interactive storytelling and designing games with meaningful learning objectives.

Metia was also behind the development of SPARX, a self-help e-therapy tool that teaches young people the key skills needed to help combat depression and anxiety. It is available for free online through the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project.

As well as developing original games and multimedia applications, Metia Interactive provides outsourcing services to the interactive game and related industries and offers digital art and development needs.

Karen Walker, Karen Walker

Known for her androgynous designs, an example of breaking the bias in itself, New Zealand’s Karen Walker launched her fashion label in 1989, sticking with it until she rose to prominence in 2000 when she debuted at New York Fashion Week.

Since then, Karen has steadily grown to be the country’s most famous fashion export. Currently, her clothes and accessories are being stocked in more than 240 stores worldwide, including London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Sydney and New York.

Her influence has seen her consistently ranked for the past seven years in The Business of Fashion’s powerhouse 500, reflecting her position as a global industry figure shaping the cut-throat industry.

Sarah Colcord, freelance event and project manager

So many people felt despondent during Covid lockdowns, but Sarah Colcord shrugged it off and looked for ways to be useful.

In her early 20s, Sarah knew her experience as a freelance event and project management professional would give her the experience needed to launch and run the page. Having lost a lot of contracts during the pandemic, she turned her attention to what she could do to support others.

She founded the New Zealand Made Products page on Facebook, which grew to more than 500,000 members in a few short months. It’s been a lifeline for so many businesses, which not only enabled her to boost her own business, but others as well.

Charlotte Mellis, Genpals

Socio-economic consultant Charlotte Mellis realised that something had to change in her social life midway through the pandemic.

As a recent mum, the digital-savvy and has had a global career, and it was a relatively seamless transition to a virtual, remote working environment. But the lack of sentimental and reflective conversations quickly became pronounced.

So, Charlotte launched a vintage pen friends website called Genpals, providing an offline social experience that friends, family and community organisations could utilise to start creating meaningful and long-lasting connections by sending and receiving handwritten letters. The offline social network enables people to create real relationships without apps, and is for all ages, and it’s been a lifeline for many.

Help share the love this International Women’s Day by raising the profiles of the special women in your life. If you know of an inspiring woman in business, why not give them a shout out on social media? Be sure to tag @myob and we’ll help you spread the message far and wide.