Tucked on the edge of Sydney’s famous harbour at the breathtaking Park Hyatt, some of Australia’s most influential women in leadership gathered to celebrate The CEO Magazine’s inaugural International Women’s Day luncheon.

Pip Marlow, Salesforce CEO; Jane McNally, Camilla CEO; Nicole Sheffield, Australia Post Executive General Manager; Alyce Tran, The Daily Edited Founder; Jane Lu, Showpo CEO; and creative entrepreneur Samantha Wills were among the 60 guests who came together to recognise history’s inspiring female trailblazers.
Greeted with flutes of Veuve Clicquot Champagne and a stunning media wall highlighting The CEO Magazine’s special 100th edition exclusively featuring none other than Elle Macpherson, some of Australia’s top female executives mingled before taking their seats for a special luncheon in The Guest House.

“As the political powerhouse Madeleine Albright once said, ‘It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.’”

“I’ve been wanting to make this event happen for some time now,” The CEO Magazine’s Content Director Susan Armstrong explains. “When I look around this room, I am deeply humbled and so excited to see so many incredible women.”

Kristyn Haywood from People for Success gave a thought-provoking keynote presentation while guests enjoyed a two-course alternating meal of corn-fed chicken breast with watercress, crispy kipfler potatoes and cepe mushroom jus, poached Goulburn River trout with grilled leek and pea sprouts and creme brulee or citrus and mascarpone tart.

“International Women’s Day is important so that we can showcase the natural feminine qualities of vulnerability, collaboration, expressiveness and kindness,” Kristyn says. “My hope is that we will recognise these feminine qualities are essential for businesses to be successful in the 21st century digital era where the customer is at the centre of everything we do.”

Women in leadership

As the picturesque Sydney Opera House and harbour glistened in the background, the women were inspired by this year’s focus: changing the agenda on gender.

“The theme is about embracing feminine traits – being expressive, intuitive, vulnerable, empathetic, caring and collaborative – in the workplace,” explains Susan. “As long as we continue to associate leadership with masculinity, women will remain underrepresented in the C-suite.”

The luncheon, in partnership with Maserati and Knight Frank, was a significant day for women in leadership, attracting a number of extraordinarily powerful women who have shaken up traditionally masculine executive roles.

Guests discussed issues facing women in the C-suite and how to encourage more women into leadership roles while mingling on The Guest House’s terrace.

“I’m hoping that not only will this event create some great conversations and forge some meaningful connections but that it could be the start of something much bigger,” says Susan.

“As the political powerhouse Madeleine Albright once said, ‘It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.’”