Jennifer Westacott has been an inspiration to women leaders in the workforce for many years now, but it’s her leadership values and seemingly innate understanding of business that ensures so many people, male or female, respect what she does and has to say. She has held high-level positions in the New South Wales and Victorian state governments, and was also a senior partner at KPMG and advised a number of top Australian businesses. Since 2011, Jennifer has been the Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia [!bca!], and in 2013 was appointed as a non-executive director of Wesfarmers and Chair of the Mental Health Council of Australia.

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It’s an impressive resume, one that Jennifer is rightfully proud of, and in a male-dominated arena, it’s inspiring to see the rise of a strong woman like her. Along the journey, Jennifer has become very passionate about encouraging women into senior management and leadership positions. “I’ve been a member of Chief Executive Women [!cew!] for a long time,” she says.

“CEW is a hugely important organisation to help women reach leadership positions in companies across the country. It helps by forming networks for women, with scholarships and direct sponsorship of women, and by creating general awareness.

“When the BCA created its Action Plan for Enduring Prosperity, we set a target that within a decade, our member companies would have 50 per cent of senior leadership positons held by women. And then we worked with CEW to design a checklist to assist companies in achieving this. And we’re still working with CEW as we roll that out across our companies.”