Executive Member in Focus: Joanna Andrews

Joanna AndrewJoanna Andrews is a results driven person, with a focus on good governance to achieve positive, long term outcomes. Through her Company Director portfolio and Facilitator role with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Joanna helps educate others on the importance of a well functioning board, to underpin business success at the highest level. 

Joanna Andrews Career Journey: 

Joanna joined Mellor Olsson in 2003 following completion of her law degree with Honours at Adelaide University. In 2013, at the age of 33, Joanna become a Capital Partner and the youngest female partner at the firm. Throughout this time she simultaneously raised two children, which added a level of complexity and minimised her hours of sleep! 

By focusing on the bigger picture, and her long term goals, Joanna made the conscious decision to commit to her career progression. This required both time and financial sacrifices, especially in the first few years after her daughter was born, which coincided with her appointment as a Salary Partner. Now in her position as Capital Partner, Joanna has increased flexibility and freedom in her role, which was always part of her long term goals; having this focus helped her navigate some of the more challenging times. 

An interesting challenge of Joanna’s role is the work required to manage the expectations of her junior staff. In managing a number of millennials Joanna finds herself spending time normalising career expectations to help them understand that it takes both time and hard work to succeed and that this will include lots of unglamorous grunt work.  

Some of the aspects that Joanna finds most rewarding is through well exceeding the expectations of her clients, through growing and mentoring young solicitors, especially young women, and seeing the growth and business successes of the boards that she has guided. 

Joanna Andrews Advice for Women in Business: 

Coming back to work as a Salary Partner soon after my daughter was born was challenging, and then my son was born 14 months later. Through a demonstrated dedication to my career, my Partners understood my commitment and were very supportive of me. My advice to help achieve the juggle of family and full time work is to establish a very good support network. My support network had to be paid, but however you set it up you need it.

The other aspect of managing a family and a career, is to be kind to yourself. Over the years I frequently felt torn – either I was a terrible Mum and terrific lawyer, or vice versa. However you’re the only driver of your destiny and there’s no such thing as perfection, so give yourself some slack. It’s also very important not to judge other women. You choose the journey that’s right for you, others need to make the decision that’s best for them. We need to be supportive and not judgemental of the decisions we make so that as women we don’t feel the pressure to question our decisions.

Unfortunately, throughout my career, I have like many women experienced an element of unwanted male attention. I hope that we are moving towards a time where this will become less frequent, but in the meantime my advice is for women to be strong, be clear and be transparent. 

Joanna Andrews Role Models:

One of my key role models is Donny Walford who taught me to never give up. She helped me to embrace the idea that if you don’t have any failures you haven’t pushed yourself hard enough. Donny also helped me understand the critical importance of being very selective with your time and who you spend it with, to be smart with your networking. I know now not to waste time on networking that won’t further my career, as that’s time I could instead spend on my career or with my family – we only get to spend our time once.  

In summary, my professional role models are:

  • Donny Walford for how she has established strong networks (with hard work), a high profile and drive to give back and support women.
  • Kate Costello for her Board achievements and business success in Governance which has helped pave the way for future female directors.
  • Gail Kelly for her ability to juggle her career with young children whilst also succeeding in a male dominated industry. I admire her candour.

Joanna Andrews Top Three Business Book Recommendations: 

  • The Wife Drought” by Annabel Crabb it is an entertaining, thought provoking and blunt assessment.
  • Duties and Responsibilities of Directors and Officers by Professor Bob Baxt it is a great reference guide that is easy to read.
  • Not Just Lucky by Jamila Rizvi it is a confronting read and a book I would recommend for women in their early career years.

Joanna’s BCD Experience: 

I joined Behind Closed Doors (BCD) many years ago at around the same time I became a Salary Partner. Joining BCD was critical for my confidence, it gave me the confidence to tackle challenges that I wouldn’t previously dreamed of doing. Donny and others in the network actually encouraged me to offer my services to the AICD which seems like a small step from the outside, but to me it was quite big. That opportunity has grown into an incredibly important aspect of my career progression. 

As a girl growing up in regional South Australia and attending the local public school I didn’t have access to a network of supportive women, so joining BCD this was new to me. It helped broaden my network of corporate women and has been one of the really critical steps in the success of my career progression.

I absolutely recommend BCD membership to other women because it provides access to a guaranteed network of women that will give you honest, constructive advice and feedback. To me, you can’t put a dollar value on the importance of that.

Find out more about behind closed doors Executive Membership today.

Sydney’s Olivia Shah Awarded behind closed doors Professional Development Scholarship

Olivia ShahOlivia Shah, National Director – Fundraising for Autism Spectrum Australia, has been announced recipient of Behind Closed Doors’ (BCD) 2019 “Profit for Purpose” Scholarship in Sydney providing 12-months fully funded access to BCD’s Executive Membership.

Founder and Managing Director of the respected peer coaching & mentoring company, Donny Walford, said the Scholarship was awarded to a female executive in the Profit for Purpose sector to further expand and challenge current leadership and business practices.

“Participation in BCD’s Executive membership provides an opportunity for personal and professional development to the benefit of both the individual and their organisation. behind closed doors is delighted to offer the complimentary membership to a female executive working in the profit for purpose sector.” Ms Walford said.

Olivia has been in a senior leadership role for a number of years at Autism Spectrum Australia, one of the largest disability organisations in Australia that is undergoing the biggest changes it has seen in the past 50 years.

In application for the Scholarship, Olivia said she would relish the time to invest in her own personal growth which to date has mostly been achieved “on the job” and is excited to work with the support of structured external mentors or coaching over the coming year.

“I want to gain a better understanding of my own leadership style and how this can be improved with a view to developing a team of people and supporters all whom have the common goal of creating a world where no one on the autism spectrum is left behind.” Olivia said.

Ms Walford said “The BCD Executive membership will provide Olivia with a professional sounding board of peers to help mentor and coach her both professionally and personally.”

BCD Executive Members meet with a small cohort of like-minded women 11 times a year with a highly skilled and experienced Facilitator. Members are challenged to set goals, be held accountable and aspire for greater levels of achievement in both their professional and personal life.

The award recipient receives a 12-month fully funded behind closed doors membership valued at more than $7,500.

Two runner-up awards providing a complimentary one-hour mentoring session were awarded to Helen Bouropoulos of National Disability Services and Sally Dillon of Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries NSW.

Behind closed doors, celebrating 10 years of supporting women in 2018, has awarded some $350,000 in scholarships to women since awarding the first scholarship to Adelaide Entrepreneur Anna Dimond of Palas Jewellery in 2012.

 Issued by: Penny Reidy, Marketing Manager, Behind Closed Doors on 8333 4303 or 0401 349 791 www.behindcloseddoors.com

Financial Education for Women – Adelaide

Few Facilitators 2019

Bringing women together to share experiences and knowledge, develop networks and receive support and mentoring in a peer group mentoring environment to make better financial decisions every day.


BCD Financial Education for Women Membership – Adelaide

The behind closed doors Financial Education for Women membership aims to assist women make better financial decisions, everyday…to have the life they dream of, now and in the future.

The new membership will build the financial capability of women to ensure greater economic security for both women and their families, now and into the future. Greater financial capability, including financial literacy, has a direct link with boosting women’s economic participation, including building women’s retirement incomes and savings.

High-quality financial capability education can make a significant difference to women’s lives. Our financial capability membership aims to assist women achieve financial wellbeing which in turn helps reduce vulnerability to financial stress and other problems.

The Financial Education for Women Membership will educate women seeking to improve their financial knowledge to understand and negotiate the financial landscape, manage money and financial risks effectively, and avoid financial pitfalls.

Looking after your finances is looking after yourself! Women will be planning for their future and setting financial goals to build their financial freedom. By taking control of their financials they will achieve financial independence.

Looking after your finances is looking after yourself!

behind closed doors Financial Education for Women (FEW) membership offers:

  • Sessions facilitated by high profile Businesswomen
  • A professional sounding board
  • Peer group mentoring/coaching and accountability
  • A totally confidential and safe environment to discuss challenges
  • Connections, relationships and networking
  • Personal development
  • High level of accountability
  • Action learning

Members informally mentor each other, improve their skills and knowledge and build their confidence and emotional intelligence.

Meet Your Facilitators

FEW Facilitators

behind closed doors has curated an impressive line-up of facilitators that includes:


Membership Topics for 2019

Members will meet for seven x  three-hour sessions over 10 months in 2019. Meetings will be held at the office of Rise High Financial Solutions, 279 Churchill Road Prospect, from 9:30am-12:30pm.

Module 1: Tuesday February 12, 2019
Goal Setting and the Scary Truth

Module 2: Tuesday March 26, 2019
The Harsh Reality – Your Current Financial Position

Module 3: Tuesday May 14, 2019
Forward Planning

Module 4: Tuesday June 25, 2019
Understanding Property investment

Module 5: Tuesday August 13, 2019
Understanding Shares and Superannuation

Module 6: Tuesday September 24, 2019
Protecting your Assets and Wealth

Module 7: Tuesday November 12, 2019
Your Financial Plan

Post Module Reviews: Friday May 8, 2020 and Friday November 20, 2020

Women will gain financial clarity on where they are currently, what they want to achieve and develop a plan to get there. They will be supported and held accountable to achieve their financial goals.

Express Your Interest

Luminaries Scholarship: Adelaide

Jasmine RichardsLuminaries Scholarship Adelaide Applications for 2019 are now open submit your application online today.

Apply Here

Would you benefit from 12-months peer to peer mentoring, professional development and networking opportunities? Apply today and YOU could receive a 12-month fully funded BCD Luminaries membership suitable for women in mid-career/ management stage of their career.

behind closed doors Luminaries membership was created in response to a need for aspiring businesswomen and managers to have a support network where they can discuss professional issues and challenges in a totally confidential environment, while at the same time encourage each other to extend themselves further to achieve and succeed in new environments.

Members meet for three hours, ten times a year, for peer to peer mentoring, professional development and networking with like-minded women. Outside of this further professional development, networking and mentorship opportunities are provided to members amongst the wider BCD community at a national level.  Scholarship recipients are placed into a Luminaries membership in either Adelaide, Perth, Sydney or Melbourne with a fully funded 12-month membership.

Since 2012, behind closed doors has offered an annual scholarship to an aspiring female leader to receive a 12-month behind closed doors Luminaries membership in Adelaide.

Apply online today.

Previous Luminaries Scholarship recipients have included:

2016 Luminaries Scholarship Winner

2018: Adelaide: Sally Woolford, SA Police. Melbourne: Sarah Overton, KPMG. Sydney: Jade Meara, Nutanix.  Perth: Nadine Magill

2017: Adelaide: Jasmine Richards, OZ Minerals and Belinda Latz, K-TIG. Melbourne: Stephanie Miles, Hydrix and Friska Wirya, Worley Parsons. Perth: Erin Gandy, WA Country Health and Candy Choo, LGIS.

2016: Toni Richardson, Manager Engagement and Development, Department for Education and Child Development

2015: Rebecca Lawson, Central Sales Manager, Newscorp

2014: Penny Griggs, General Manager, SALA Festival

2013: Melissa Thredgold, Deputy Principal, St Johns Grammar Junior School

2012: Teresa Yeing, Transformation Consultant, Viterra

The objectives of the Luminaries membership is to:

  • Deliver practical management and leadership sessions to generate more effective leaders.
  • Provide a confidential businesswomen’s support network.
  • Extend individuals personally and professionally.
  • Encourage and support members to nominate for Board and committee positions.
  • Mentor peers to accept greater professional challenges and roles.
  • Assist members to participate in awards programs such as the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
  • Increase the calibre and expertise of female managers and leaders within organisations.
  • Provide a clear development path for women moving through to executive roles.

Luminaries groups meet 10 times a year.  Each session runs for three hours from 12pm to 3pm at a Boardroom located at one of our supporters and includes a light lunch.

behind closed doors Luminaries members also receive:

  • Automatic inclusion into the BoardDirect register
  • Access to a select executive women’s network
  • Professional and personal development in a stimulating environment
  • Exposure and introductions to senior people in business and government
  • Private sessions with local identities and guest speakers
  • Opportunities to discuss professional and personal challenges and strategies in a supportive women’s forum
  • Invitations to Businesswomen’s Connexions (network) events
  • Opportunities for Board Directorships
  • Mentoring with a behind closed doors Executive group member

Visit our Luminaries Membership page for further details.



behind closed doors Luminaries is designed for businesswomen and leaders of the future who are aspiring to move into executive management positions. To be eligible, you must be able to demonstrate:

  • Leadership ability and exceptional teamwork
  • Why the scholarship will benefit you
  • How the scholarship will benefit your organisation
  • Complete the online application form.

Apply online today.

Finalists must be

  • Open to receiving publicity for participating in/receiving the Scholarship
  • Available for finalist interviews on Monday February 4, 2019
  • Available to attend the announcement networking event Tuesday February 12, 2019
  • Able to attend monthly meetings based in the city/city fringe beginning March 2019


If you would like to nominate a business woman who would benefit from a behind closed doors Luminaries scholarship, please provide their name, business and contact details. Submit your nomination via email to scholarship@behindcloseddoors.com


To apply for the behind closed doors Luminaries scholarship you must complete an online application form or request a copy of the form from scholarship@behindcloseddoors.com

Applications Close Thursday January 24, 2019. 

Judging Process

Upon receipt of written applications, a shortlist of 6 finalists will be invited to attend a 30 minute panel interview on Monday February 4, 2019.

Key Dates

  • December 2018 –  Scholarships launched
  • Thursday January 24, 2019  @ 5pm Applications Close
  • Monday February 4, 2019, Panel Interviews for Finalists in Adelaide
  • Tuesday February 12, 2019 Adelaide Scholarship recipient announced at Back to Business Dinner
  • March 2019 Scholarship recipients commence the first of their 12-month fully funded Luminaries membership


For scholarship enquiries, please contact, behind closed doors Program Manager on 08 8333 4303 or email scholarship@behindcloseddoors.com

For enquiries of how you can obtain a Luminaries membership, please contact behind closed doors on 08 8333 4303 or email info@behindcloseddoors.com

Tips for Successful Networking

Tips for Successful NetworkingKnowing how to successfully network within a senior executive context is something that many people find difficult or intimidating. Professional networking is an important investment in your career development. When you advance into senior management roles, professional development becomes a different game. It’s no longer about your technical ability, it’s no longer about qualifications, it’s about how you manage your team within top level business requirements. To progress at this level, you need to spend more time building relationships with other senior managers and the people that you’re reporting to, not with the team that you’re leading.

Andrew Hennigan, author of ‘Payforward Networking’ describes networking as “a deliberate activity to build, reinforce and maintain relationships of trust with other people to further your goals. Professional networking is simply networking focused on professional goals.” 

Networking in a business context is vastly different than social interactions, it’s not about drinking and having a good time; don’t get me wrong, good networking events should include a social element, however it’s not a party. So how do you successfully network and build professional relations? Over my years in senior executive roles, I have learned that to achieve maximum results from networking, you need to approach it as you would any other aspect in business development, strategically.  

If you are currently a senior executive looking to strengthen your position or you’re looking for tips to help you progress into a senior executive role, here are my key recommendations to help you.

Invest Your Time Wisely

Before committing your valuable time to networking, you need to be very clear about the objective you’re looking to achieve by doing it. There is a plethora of potential networking events to attend but your time is limited, so you need to research and determine which options will present the best return for your investment of time. Catriona Pollard author of ‘From Unknown To Expert’ states that “networking has been incredibly powerful and instrumental in creating the business I have today. But just turning up to networking events isn’t enough. And it isn’t just about getting new business either.” 

When I created Behind Closed Doors, this was one of my key motivations. I wanted to create a female focused peer coaching & mentoring, networking and professional development experience that delivers tangible career advancement support. I wanted to create an organisation that allowed senior women in business to invest wisely in their development. 

To understand what are the right events for you to attend, consider who are your target influencers, who are the people you want to connect with and what events are they attending? If you’re unsure how to determine this, ask for referrals from your current business contacts who know your targets. 

How To Interact at Networking Functions

Meeting new business contacts to build professional relationships is built on similar foundations to how you develop relationships in any area of your life, through trust built on shared experiences and mutual interests. Remember, the aim is not to sell at this point, it’s about marketing, branding and promotion. You are working towards building rapport, so if and when selling is appropriate, you have already established a relationship with this person. Like any skill, regular and committed practice will improve your performance – the more networking functions you attend, the more comfortable you’ll feel. 

It’s important to prepare and practice your elevator speech, so you can feel comfortable and confident when you deliver it. According to the Australian Institute of Business, your elevator speech “is a concise, compelling introduction that can be communicated in the amount of time it takes someone to ride the elevator to their floor. People are busy, and being able to communicate who you are and what you do quickly and effectively will ensure that you get your most important points across, no matter how short the conversation.” My top tips for creating your elevator speech is to keep it short, concise, factual and to the point – avoid hype and be you. 

Stephen Covey, author of widely acclaimed book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was famously quoted as saying “Stop listening to reply and start listening to understand.” Understanding the difference and truly listening, is incredibly important to build relationships from your networking. If you’re just listening to wait for your turn to speak, you miss the opportunity to offer value by truly engaging with what your connection is saying. Listening is different than hearing, listening is a process of communication and to be successful, it must be an active process. To understand the motivation and to capture the potential opportunity of conversations, you must be an active participant in the communication process.

Follow-Up: How To Maintain Contact

Securing contact details from someone after one conversation at one event does not mean you have developed a business relationship. Attending networking functions is the starting point, now you need to cultivate this contact into a deeper connection. To achieve this, you need to establish a follow-up system, one that works for you, is simple and manageable. If you have a CRM system, this is a great way to help manage the process. Even without it there are processes you can implement. Something I have always found helpful, is on the day of the event, write on the back of your new contacts business card where you meet and key points you discussed; this enables you to personalise your follow-up.

An immediate and highly effective follow-up action, is to connect with new business contacts via LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the top online site for professional, social and career networking. The site functions as an online directory of individual professionals and organisations and facilitates the process of professional networking. I aim to connect with new contacts on LinkedIn either on the day of the networking function or within a few days, as this provides immediate recall and further strengthens the professional connection.

The other powerful follow-up action I implement, is to send an email within one week, but no longer than two weeks after meeting a new business contact. Sending an effective follow-up email is a great way to further solidify the introduction and develop a more meaningful business connection. A great way to manage this follow-up process is to create a range of email templates that you can edit to personalise for each contact. If you don’t know where to start, Hubspot has created a useful range of follow-up email templates that can help get you started in implementing this process. 

Understanding how to successfully network is a powerful tool that will help your career advancement. Take the time to strategically plan how and where to spend your time in this pursuit. Consider becoming a regular at one or two key groups, spend more time focused on developing your reputation in one or two key areas instead of spreading yourself thinly across multiple groups. Plan event attendance in your calendar. From my experience, if you don’t book in time to attend, you simply won’t go. For more details on the range of networking and professional development opportunities we offer, click here to view our website or contact us today.   


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Australian Red Cross’s Rebecca Cunningham Awarded BCD Scholarship

Rebecca CunninghamRegional Manager for Australian Red Cross, Rebecca Cunningham, located in the South Australian town of Gladstone has been announced recipient of Behind Closed Doors’ (BCD) “Profit for Purpose” Scholarship in Adelaide for 2019. The Scholarship has been awarded to 12 women since 2015, Rebecca being the first regional winner.

Founder and Managing Director of the respected professional development and peer coaching & mentoring company, Donny Walford, said the 12-month Scholarship was awarded to a successful female executive in the Profit for Purpose sector to further expand and challenge current leadership and business practices.

“Profit for Purpose organisations are critical to our society and we are delighted to provide an opportunity to a female executive working in the sector.” Ms Walford said.

Rebecca Cunningham has proven to be an innovator and champion of change. She is passionate about her industry and determined to make a difference to the lives of the people that utilise the services of Australian Red Cross.

In application for the Scholarship, Rebecca said living regionally can provide obstacles to be able to collaborate and network with other like-minded women outside of her own organisation.

“This opportunity will mean I will be able to connect with others and continue to grow and develop professionally. ” Rebecca said.

Ms Walford said “The BCD Executive membership will provide Rebecca with a professional sounding board of peers to help mentor and coach her both professionally and personally. We are delighted to provide this valuable opportunity to a regional recipient.”

BCD Executive Members meet with a small cohort of like-minded women 11 times a year with a highly skilled and experienced Facilitator and Program Director. Members are challenged to set goals, be held accountable and aspire for greater levels of achievement in both their professional and personal life.

The award recipient receives a 12-month fully funded behind closed doors Executive membership valued at more than $7,500.

Two runner-up awards providing a complimentary one-hour mentoring session with BCD Founder and Managing Director Donny Walford were awarded to Michelle Gheorghiu of Minda and Sabine Kloss of Animal Welfare League.

Behind closed doors, celebrating 10 years of supporting women in 2018, has awarded some $350,000 in scholarships to women since awarding the first scholarship to Adelaide Entrepreneur Anna Dimond of Palas Jewellery in 2012.

Issued by: Penny Reidy, Marketing Manager, Behind Closed Doors on 8333 4303 or 0401 349 791 www.behindcloseddoors.com

Member in Focus: Joanna Taskas

Jo TaskasJoanne (Jo) Taskas is a proud Larrakia women, who is purpose driven to serve Aboriginal people and the wider community, through her work in the Public Sector. Jo is a Luminaries Behind Closed Doors (BCD) member. 

The Luminaries Membership offers female executives of the future, the opportunity to further expand their leadership and management skills. The membership is best suited for women in a management position, either managing employees and/or stakeholders.

Jo’s Career Journey: 

I have always been attracted to roles that align with my values of transparency, honesty, fairness and integrity. Early in my career I made a conscious decision to serve the public. I have worked for the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) for 16 years in various roles including Finance, HR, Policy and Program Delivery. As a proud Larrakia women with my roots in the Northern Territory, I feel purpose bound to get the best outcomes for Aboriginal people.

My current role is Operations Manager for our Central Division in Program Delivery (SA, NT, VIC, and TAS) where we develop grant funding projects with Indigenous groups. Our function is to address the dispossession of Land to Aboriginal people and to assist Indigenous Australians to acquire land, by facilitating landownership through the acquiring and granting of land to Indigenous Corporations.   

The work of this organisation is incredibly varied, yet always focused on benefits to Aboriginal people. Throughout my career, I have worked in Telstra, National Crime Authority (NCA), Australian Bureau of Statistics and other Commonwealth Agencies. 

Jo’s Advice for Women in Business: 

The best advice I received was to remember: if you have the education, skills and experience, then you need to back yourself! Self doubt can sometimes be hard to ignore but when aiming to succeed, it’s so incredibly important to trust in your own capability. So my advice to other women in business, is to be the person you want to be and trust in yourself. 

Jo’s Role Models:

My first boss in the Public Service, Jacqui Nelson. She showed me that Public Servants are bound by Australian Government to serve the Public with transparency, integrity and honesty. These are values I have tried to maintain in my career. 

Other role models for me include Julia Gillard, Penny Wong, Tanya Plibersek and Julie Bishop – for obvious reasons, they are resilient, classy and respectful women (do you see a theme here!). 

Jo’s Top Three Business Book Recommendations: 

  1. The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, Stephen Covey “To achieve goals you’ve never achieved before, you need to start doing things you have never done before.‘’
  2. Leaders Eat Last: Why some teams pull together and others don’t, Simon Sinek. It delves into why the role of a leader is primarily to care for others. 
  3. Work hard and focus on your best days, so that you can deal with the worst days. It’s not a book, it’s a quote from my husband, Mick Taskas, that I remind myself of frequently. 

Jo’s BCD Experience: 

What I really loved about BCD was the opportunity it gave me to rediscover myself and to have the confidence to be who I want to be. Through the tools and support network, participation in BCD has improved my confidence, resilience, accountability and output.

I recommend BCD because it provides a safe environment to discuss your individual work challenges. Each month you have access to great speakers who address your needs in a holistic manner from personal finances, well-being, leadership, communication, self-promotion and innovation. I feel empowered not only as a leader, but also as a women. I am proud to be part of BCD.  Also the networking opportunities are outstanding because you are encouraged and positively supported. 

To learn more about the Behind Closed Doors membership options, view the details via this link or for any specific questions, email info@behindcloseddoors.com

4 Ways To Manage Difficult Conversations In The Workplace

Difficult Conversations in the WorkplaceAt some point in business we are all required to have difficult conversations in the workplace. They’re not easy, nor something that we look forward to. Whether it be chasing payment from debtors, dealing with unhappy customers or managing underperforming staff; at some point in your role in management, difficult conversations are inevitable.  

One of the greatest challenges, and the most difficult conversations in business that I have experienced, was during the 1991 collapse of the State Bank. I had just taken over my first Branch Manager role, managing 35 team members and trying to prove myself against a still present attitude that ‘women can’t be bank managers’.

On 6 February, after only one week in the role, I received a phone call at 7am Sunday morning from an Executive member at the Bank asking me to manage the Bank’s Call Centre for the day, staff with as  many employees as possible and ring all of our 4,500 employees, to advise them that the Bank was announcing a $2.2 billion loss and to expect there would be a run on funds the next day.  That loss was to reach $4.2 billion!

I quickly set-up a script for the team to use, to brief employees on what they would likely face the next day. We worked from 7:30 in the morning until 8 o’clock that night, to ring every single one of those 4,500 employees. I thought that day was challenging but it was just the beginning. The next day we had to go into the branch network, face our customers and have many more difficult conversations.  They were literally lined up down the streets to withdraw their life savings.

Whilst incredibly challenging, I learnt a lot from this experience. From this foundation, I have built a strong set of skills to help me confidently deal with difficult conversations in the workplace. I have summarised these skills into four different strategies that you can implement to help you manage challenging conversations. 

  1. Avoiding Confrontation Will Not Make It Go-Away  
  2. Be Prepared
  3. Don’t Take It Personally
  4. Find Opportunity In Adversity

I explain each of these four areas, and how they can help you manage difficult conversations in the workplace, in more detail below: 

1. Avoiding Confrontation Will Not Make It Go-Away  

Most people find confrontation difficult, so it is a completely normal response to procrastinate and hope the problem goes away. However, delaying and avoiding challenging conversations can make the issues escalate and the outcomes far worse.  In my experience, not having the confrontation means it plays over and over in your head, you tend not to operate as productively and it can keep you awake at night!  Dealing with it in a timely manner is the key, and your employees will see you as an effective leader and manager.  

2. Be Prepared

Possibly one of the most important aspects to successfully negotiating difficult conversations, is to be prepared. Like any business negotiation, you need to go into the conversation with a clear understanding of the outcome you want to achieve. Writing a script will help you stick to the key points you want to cover. Even if you don’t stick exactly to your script, this provides a good reference point and something to reign in the conversation, if you feel it heading in the wrong direction. Being very clear on your direction and outcome, will help you control how the conversation proceeds and reduce the likelihood of it deteriorating into a negative and unproductive discussion. 

3. Don’t Take It Personally

To bring your best communication skills to a difficult conversation, you need to manage your emotional responses, including body language. It is not un-common for difficult conversations to become emotional and this needs to be carefully managed because if you also become emotional in your responses, the conversation will deteriorate. By maintaining a calm and rational state, you will help steer the conversation towards your desired outcome. I have found applying a ‘firm but fair’ approach is most productive in these situations. Through this approach, you are compassionate and understanding of the other person’s perspective but also remain firm on your key points and direction for the discussion. The ability to genuinely look at the situation through the eyes of others, to demonstrate compassion even when delivering challenging information, is a skill that will help shape you into a respected leader. 

4. Find Opportunity In Adversity

As challenging as my experience with the State Bank collapse was, it also provided me with a huge potential opportunity. Instead of only looking at difficult conversations and challenges as negative situations, turn this around and look for the potential positives. Through my response to the Bank collapse, I was recognised as one of the few people to ‘turn the Bank on its head’, to help it become an organisation that was customer and sales focused. It is the people that stand up in adversity that we remember and it is the leaders that step-up during times of crisis, that make a real difference. 

Like all skills, your ability to handle difficult conversations will improve with practice. Implementing these four strategies will help you to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally, to better manage these conversations. Talking to others in management roles to gain their advice and experience can also provide great assistance. The opportunity for women to access support by way of peer coaching and mentoring for the challenges we face in business, was one of the key reasons why I established Behind Closed Doors. Through our network, you can draw on a wealth of experience from other businesswomen, to help you successfully navigate difficult conversations in the workplace. 


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Kate Rush, Executive Member in Focus

Kate RushDo you work in an executive role for a Non-Profit or NGO organisation? Are you looking to expand your knowledge and to build genuine, supportive business connections.

Applications are now open for the 2018 Executive NFP Scholarship for Adelaide and Sydney, submissions close on Tuesday 23rd October.

For a greater understanding of what it means to be the recipient of our Executive NFP Scholarship, we spoke to 2017 scholarship recipient, Kate Rush who is the Head of Disability and Mental Health Services at AnglicareSA. 

Kate is a values driven person who thrives on the opportunity to work with others and who shares a passion for contributing to the change we need as a society to create more inclusive, productive and equitable communities.

Kate Rush’s BCD Scholarship Experience: 

I was very humbled by receiving the behind closed doors NFP Executive scholarship. It has provided me with an opportunity to engage with an incredible network of women, to reflect on the way our challenges are often similar despite the very different places we work, and to use goal setting in my career more effectively.

behind closed doors has helped to bring focus to my professional goals and be in a space where you can regularly consider the views of a range of other trusted, professional and inspiring women. I’d like to continue to build my skills around coaching others, which you can develop in the peer mentoring space behind closed doors offers. I really enjoy the networking events too.

Kate Rush’s Career Journey: 

A strong sense of purpose has driven the way I have moved through different roles in my career. A big part of this is the ever-increasing need I see for leadership; in our communities and our workplaces. My current role as Head of Disability and Mental Health Services at AnglicareSA is a reflection of seeing an opportunity to contribute to leadership, particularly around strategy and vision, which I enjoy.

The non-profit business environment is changing significantly and this is challenging the identities and processes of not for profits, particularly through changes like the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). I enjoy this challenge though and see it as an opportunity to keep improving our effectiveness as an agency.

Kate Rush’s Advice for Women in Business: 

Some of the challenges I have faced include having to advocate from a women’s perspective, particularly in situations like being the only woman on a board. I have been surprised at times at the assumptions others have made about women’s perspectives, without taking time to hear them. My advice is to avoid getting defensive or frustrated, just build strong relationships and work with others to get the results you need.

At the end of the day, much of your success is up to you. I think a lot of leadership is about being the best version of yourself and using that as a platform for change. When you strengthen yourself, you strengthen your business.

Kate Rush’s Role Models:

There are a number of wonderful local women who have encouraged me along the way who I see as role models because they know how to keep their cool under pressure, and maintain their focus on the things that matter. From a distance, I also admire people like Penny Wong and Alan Joyce because they are not afraid to be political, they’re authentic and it’s nice to have some LGBT role models in my life too!

Kate Rush’s Top Three Business Book Recommendations: 

  1. Good to Great, Jim Collins. It’s an oldie but a goodie and the strategies he discusses remain relevant. Having a solid foundation and the right priorities makes a difference.
  2. Mastering Leadership: R Anderson & W Adams. Leadership is what I am passionate about and this book gives deep understanding on what is good leadership and how it can improve our effectiveness in all aspects of life.
  3. The Audacity of Hope: Barack Obama. It’s interesting to get into the mind and reflect on the learnings of someone who’s ambitions are bigger than a single role. Obama is also very frank about the constraints the world of politics places on doing good, and how he seeks to contribute beyond that.

To apply for the 2018 Behind Closed Doors Executive NFP scholarship, there are five questions to answer via an online application form to discover how a peer mentoring membership would assist you in your career. For any questions, or to nominate a female executive, you can email scholarship@behindcloseddoors.com

Further details about the application process can be accessed at the behind closed doors webiste.

Elina D’Cruz Awarded Sydney Entrepreneur Scholarship

Elina D'Cruz
With two businesses in her entrepreneurial belt, operating in both Perth and Sydney, Elina D’Cruz business ventures received a boost today with the award of the coveted behind closed doors (BCD) scholarship providing a 12-month fully-funded membership to the national network for businesswomen.

The prized BCD Entrepreneurs Scholarship awards a female Sydney entrepreneur the opportunity to tap into the considerable business acumen of some of the State’s leading businesswomen. The membership provides professional development, peer to peer mentoring and networking opportunities to assist with continued business growth and success.

“The BCD Entrepreneurs Scholarship has proven one of our most successful initiatives, records show scholarship recipients gain enhanced personal and professional skills that contribute to the increased success and sustainability of their business.” Founder and Managing Director of behind closed doors, Donny Walford, said.

“With Elina’s recent move to Sydney the networking opportunities will be of a great advantage as she establishes her footprint in the State.”

In application for the scholarship Elina D’Cruz said, “I work in a male dominated engineering practice, I will really benefit from the peer support to help me manoeuvre the new business and position.”

As Scholarship recipient Elina will receive a 12-month fully-funded BCD Entrepreneurs membership valued at more than $9,000. Members are placed into a cohort of fellow female business owners/entrepreneurs to meet for three hours, ten times a year, with a highly accomplished Facilitator and Program Director.

A runner up BCD Entrepreneurs scholarship, providing an hour of mentoring, was awarded to Karen Williams of Storybook Alpacas.

BCD has been awarding Scholarships to businesswomen since 2012 when Adelaide Jewellery Designer Anna Dimond received a fully funded membership. Entrepreneurs Scholarships in Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne were announced last month, applications for the behind closed doors Executive Scholarship for a businesswoman employed in the Not For Profit industry opened for applications on September 18.

To find out more about BCDs national scholarship program and available memberships visit www.behindcloseddoors.com

Issued by: Penny Reidy, behind closed doors, 0401 349 791 penny@behindcloseddoors.com

How to Turn Your Failures into Stepping Stones to Success 

Turn Failures to SuccessTaking risks when it comes to your career requires a lot of strength and determination. It’s not easy to just grab the reins and go for it. To take a risk and then fail could give you second thoughts on continuing with your plan to career success.

For women, it can be especially intimidating. Studies show that women process failure differently than men. Since a woman’s sensory perception is stronger, it can take quite an emotional toll. As such, it’s important to use this experience as a source of motivation, and not a reason to give up.

Turn Failures Into Success

Change Your Mindset

One thing is certain: failure is a fact of life and a learning experience. It’s best not to see failures as negatives. When you approach anything new with the proper mindset, you can make good use of your failures to create the perfect stepping stones that lead to success.

When you experience failure, it’s important to reflect. You’re entitled to feel different emotions. Allow yourself the time to process everything including lessons learned and what you will do differently next time, so that you can come back stronger and more motivated than before.

Accept and Learn from It

Every successful person has dealt with failure—even the world’s most successful businessmen and businesswomen have encountered it at some point. There are and will always be obstacles in your career, running your own business and in life. Learning to accept this lets you prepare and avoid being oblivious to the challenges you will face. Treat the failures as learning experiences so that you don’t make the same mistakes again in the future.

Give Yourself Time 

You may have acted too quickly the first time, resulting in a poorly-made decision leading to a big mistake. It’s natural to want to get started on your new strategy and endeavour as quickly as possible or quickly finish a certain task. To avoid making the same mistake again, review all the pros and cons and check every important detail before you move forward. It’s important to take the mistake you made into account, set a realistic deadline and determine a Plan B so that you can be well prepared the second time around.

Talk About It 

You don’t want to reveal your ideas to just anyone, but sometimes talking about your strategy and tactics can help you see other perspectives which can be useful for gaining success. Having a mentor or ‘trusted advisor’ can help guide you. They will be able to share other points of view that you may not have previously considered. This could help you to understand what went wrong and what went well so you can make the appropriate changes and determine different approaches.

Stay Positive

Even if a particular endeavour ended in failure, learn from it, analyse reasons why and try again using alternative approaches and market testing. Instead of being discouraged, you should consider the effort you gave, the preparations you made, and have an optimistic outlook. You may have failed the first time but at least you were able to successfully take the needed steps for taking risks—this tells you that you have the capacity to succeed once you try again. You made a bold move, which took a lot of courage. 

Having a positive mindset lets you think more clearly; dwelling on your errors will only result in demotivation, rendering you emotionally incapable of moving forward. And without moving forward and trying again, there’s a lost opportunity of gaining success in that particular endeavour or task.


Gain fresh inspiration from others, may it be from your trusted friends, mentors, or colleagues. Successful female entrepreneurs or career women will tell you that they have encountered failures and committed mistakes on their way to gaining success. What did they do? What did they learn? What insights can they share with you? These are the things you can learn when you network with the right people—those who share your values and ideals, who have encountered and learned from their mistakes, and have used their experience and turned failure into a way to attain success.

By building a strong network, you can help each other through shared advice, experiences, and expertise. You can make new friendships and form strong business connections you can use to gain more leads or make great partnerships for your business. 

You’re an Inspiration

When you follow through with your goals and dreams, you inspire other women to do the same. Believe it or not, they will look up to you even if you fail. You took a risk and went through with it. By staying on the right path, you have a chance to become the strong business or career woman you’ve always wanted to be.

At Behind Closed Doors, we connect you with fellow businesswomen who have dealt with (and successfully overcome) many of the same obstacles that you currently face. Through our networking, mentorship, events, and other resources, we help women help and support other women strive to become better leaders and successful businesswomen and elevate one another in terms of professional development. Want to know more about how we can help you? Please don’t hesitate to contact us today.


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Career Change – Things to Consider

Considerations for Career ChangeIt’s estimated that over half of Australians are dissatisfied with their jobs, which explains why so many people are considering a career change. From workplace stress, poor culture, not feeling valued, lack of professional development to poor job engagement and, of course, financial considerations, there are many reasons why one might think of leaving a career or company and transition to something else. In fact, it’s now very unusual for anyone to stay in one job their entire working lives.

The good news is that it’s entirely possible to successfully switch careers, whatever age you may be. It’s important for your health, too—job dissatisfaction leads to health issues including burnout and even depression. However, the key to switching careers and gaining further success lies in the planning, and there are a few things you must do before you make the change, such as the steps listed below.

Tips to Consider before a Career Change

Consider What You Really Want and Need

Job dissatisfaction can lead to frustration, and frustration can lead to hasty, regrettable choices. It’s been said that you should be ‘running towards something, not away from something’—if you’re taking a job just to get out of your current one, it won’t make you happier in the longer term, and you might end up regretting your decision.

Think about what you truly want and need in terms of the career path you want to pursue. Is it a more comfortable salary, professional development, progression opportunities, culture, flexible hours, or a sense of fulfilling your purpose? You can only reach a goal if you understand what it is that you want. Spend time really getting to know yourself, your strengths and development areas, and your ambitions. Write down the ‘must haves’ you want in a job and company, and the ‘job dissatisfiers’ i.e. what you don’t like about a role. This will help you arrive at the right decision.

Find Your Passion

If you’re changing careers, invest time in identifying what makes you happy in life and relate it to your career path and goals for the future. Explore diverse options on how to make money doing something which sets your spirit on fire. Whether it’s starting your own business or moving into a completely different industry sector, don’t settle for anything less than a job you think you would enjoy and make you happy.

As Marla Gottschalk, CEO of The Pampered Chef, says, “Find your passion and a mission you believe in. When you feel like you make a difference in people’s lives, it becomes so much more than a job. For example, I know family mealtimes are vitally important. So, it is very motivating to lead an organisation focused on that.” Finding something that you love doing and also more than adequately pays the bills might be challenging, but it certainly is not impossible!

Know You Deserve What You Want

Alexandra Lebenthal, President and CEO of Lebenthal & Company states that, “Women often find it hard to ask for things, whether it’s a business opportunity or a salary raise. We simply expect others to recognise our value and hard work.

Asking for what you want in a gracious, thoughtful way often results in getting what you want, so put your fears aside and ask for what you want.” My mantra is “Don’t ask, don’t get.”

Don’t settle for anything less than what will make you happy, and you’ll make a smarter, better-informed decision when it comes to changing careers. Take Catherine, for example. Once a stay-at-home mother, she obtained a law degree at age 59 and now practices as a successful Lawyer. It’s never too late, and you deserve to get what you want.

Find Like-Minded People

Gathering intel on a new sector or industry is the most effective way to inform your job or career search. Attend networking opportunities that fit your target job, company and industry sector choices, and LinkedIn is a great place to start your research. Find out what to really expect from an industry, if you need more qualifications and/or skills, and how many opportunities there are. Time spent researching is never wasted; it’s a great way to find out about the market, discover or create opportunities and avoid making mistakes in career choices.

Not sure which networking events to sign up for? As a woman, Women-only events give you a unique insight into an industry from a peer’s perspective. Gain an understanding on everything from promotional and professional opportunities to workplace flexibility. Networking events can even lead to mentoring opportunities, and who better to help you navigate a new career than someone with experience who has navigated the path themselves.

Don’t Leave Your Current Job Without Securing Your New Role

Potential employers are suspicious of candidates with gaps on resumes which aren’t easily explained. It’s often easier to be hired while you’re still employed. Even if your current job is frustrating, use the time productively to plan, research and develop broader networks. I.e. use your energy in a positive manner to benefit you in the long term and avoid focussing on what depletes your energy. Making a hasty decision could lead to financial instability, lack of preparation and possibly choosing the wrong job and career out of desperation.

If you’re really convinced about changing careers, spend time wisely and productively by updating your CV so that at any time an opportunity exists, you are ready to apply. Highlight your key transferable skills and what value you add to any organisation, highlighting what makes you stand out i.e. your ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP). In addition, detail what your core competencies and capabilities are which may include how you develop strategies, grow business, lead teams, deal with stakeholders and handle problems or situations that are relevant to the new career or position you’re aiming for. This will make your business or career background more attractive in terms of the new path you want to pursue.

Looking for a Fresh Start?

If you’re looking for a new beginning in your career or business, we at Behind Closed Doors can help you. Behind closed doors is a leading national network of businesswomen who support and guide each other, aiming to elevate women when it comes to professional development. We have networking and mentoring opportunities that will match you with fellow members who will mentor you and help you reach your goals and aspirations. Want to know more? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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Useful Networking Tips for Introverted Women

networking for introvertsNetworking is a great way to gather new contacts and gain great connections and working relationships to grow your business or career. It involves meeting and speaking with people and attending events— and how you verbally portray your business or professional values, aims and ideals are key ingredients for networking success.

However, while many of us are comfortable with networking, others may find it a bit more challenging. For shy or introverted women, networking may seem more difficult, which could discourage them from entertaining the idea of investing their time in networking.

We believe in networking’s potential and ability to help business and career women. Even if you’re not really into meeting and speaking with different people, you can still achieve networking success. So, don’t make excuses of why you don’t want to network; here are several ways to help you get started.

Practice Makes Perfect Sense

As with many things in life, practice goes a long way. For networking, you can practice by speaking in front of a mirror or on video. Doing so has two benefits. First, you’ll be able to remember the pitch you need to say and, second, since you’re already treating your reflection as another person, you’ll grow a bit more comfortable when you’re already speaking with someone. The mirror or video will also show you if you have expressions, mannerisms, or actions (specifically the distracting ones) that you need to avoid doing when networking.

If a mirror or video isn’t enough, try practicing in front of a friend, and let him or her assess your performance and pinpoint things you could improve on. Your friend can also help you further by coming up with their own dialogue to better simulate a networking conversation.

Look for an ‘Introvert-in-Arms’

Did you know that there are actually four types of ‘introversion’? There’s social introversion, thinking introversion, anxious introversion, and restrained introversion.

And, in a world where an estimated 50% of individuals are introverts, you’re likely to cross eyes with someone across the networking venue who is also an introvert. Once you know someone is also an introvert, you might want to ‘team up’ with that person. This allows you to feel less anxious—being with someone who understands being an introvert helps you get out of your shell easier. And, once you begin conversations, you’ll grow more comfortable in terms of talking with other people in the event as well.

Buddying up with another introvert during the networking process has other benefits such as having shared networks and added support. If you can’t bring a friend or colleague with you, look around the room for someone else who is also looking around for a friendly face. Approach them and talk. Then work the room together!

Set ONE Goal, and Meet It

Setting goals works in life. So why not use it for the purposes of networking?

For goals to be successful, they must be specific, clear and they must be written down. Research shows that writing down a specific goal is an excellent motivator. So, if you’re demotivated to network because you’re not good at meeting or speaking with different people, write down what you want to achieve to help put yourself in a better, more positive mindset.

For introverts, specificity, clarity, and focus on outcomes can help reduce the overwhelming feeling brought about by the idea of networking. In essence, setting just one goal for your networking event can help you, the career- or business-minded introverted woman that you are, focus on accomplishing something that matters.

Be Organised

Another way to keep the sanity and the clarity going as an introvert in a networking event is to keep organised records. This is not only for the purposes of following up but also to take stock of what events you’ve been to, where to go next and the goal(s) you achieved.

Being organised also helps you keep your composure—organisation helps the frazzled, anxious, or overwhelmed brain have a sense of order. Awareness and knowledge often help offset the sensation that you’re doing a futile and repetitive task—which is what so many introverts may feel tackling networking events.

Create a database, or use your CRM, which will help you review who you’ve met, what they’ve discussed with you, new ideas you gained as a result of the conversations and any lessons learned. This way, you’ll feel you’re getting results, helping you feel more motivated about (and not forced into) participating in the next networking event.

Preparation is Key

Planning for a networking event entails some work, but it can also make things much easier, especially if you’re an introvert.

Preparing helps you be at ease knowing that you didn’t come unprepared. It also puts things in perspective in terms of what you should do and what you want to achieve. Plan ahead and think of good questions that will help you start a conversation. A good formula is FORD: Family, Organisation, Recreation and Did I get and give value to that conversation?

You can also prepare a short, basic introduction that you’d be comfortable telling others in relation to networking. This helps you leave a good impression while saving you from having to think about what to say upon meeting another person ie prepare your elevator pitch.

Networking is also for Introverts

Meeting new people is at the heart of successful networking. However, this may also make it seem like it’s not for the introverted, and that shouldn’t be the case. The truth is, networking is for both the shy and the outgoing, the introverted and the extroverted.

Introverts may need a bit more practice or work but that doesn’t mean they won’t gain success from it. Take it from people in high-level positions—they know the value of networking and have built great professional connections over the years. In fact, this study suggests that introverts are more likely to become CEOs, which means that they truly have the capacity and potential to gain networking success.

If you need further guidance in networking, we at Behind Closed Doors are here for you. We believe in networking and how it can help elevate the business and professional careers of women and are more than willing to help make it work wonders for you. We are a leading organisation of business women and, through networking, peer mentoring, events, and other resources, we help each other attain greater levels of professional success through opening doors to new opportunities. Contact us today to know more, we’re always ready to listen and support you.


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Making Up the Lost Dollars When Having a Career Break to Raise Children

Make Up for Lost Dollars When on Career BreakFor women, taking a career break may mean stepping back from work to take care of children. While making plans for a family means that a career break is not necessarily unexpected, that in no way diminishes the heightened sense of anxiety that up to 70% of women experience regarding this issue.

Additionally, stress is caused by the worry of not being able to return to the same kind of job or salary expectation later or finding their job under threat from a possible replacement. The prospect of loss of financial security can cause agitation that you simply don’t need at such a critical period of life. If you are running your own business, taking a career break comes with even more complications. Even with close family support in place, as a business owner, a break can put your business at risk when it comes to internal and financial management.

So, if a career break does happen, what can you do to minimise the impact, still generate income, and allay financial concerns?

Financial Tips for Career Breaks

Foresight helps. Thinking preventatively, you can make plans in advance when a career break is on the horizon. It’s expensive having children and being away from work. Depending on your income circumstances, you may need to consider how to modify the way you spend.

The first option is to plan ahead and start allocating monthly savings out of your salary. Setting up an automatic transfer on set dates or a direct deposit from an employer into a specific account means you don’t have to think about the task of manually saving.

Secondly, there may be opportunities to take on supplementary work at your current job. You can have any extra pay apply towards your parental leave package by ensuring you receive a written agreement from your employer stating such. Equally, you can save up holiday leave time (your spouse, too) so that you can both be home more during the parental period.

As an alternative for business owners, short-term loans are also an option. You could use the money to pay for help with your daily business operations to keep your business and revenue stream intact while taking care of your new family addition.

Create a Viable Budget

Considering changing your expenses is a key element to successful career break planning. One thing you can do if you’re expecting a child is to create a budget that includes expenses as if your baby is already here. As an example, heading back to work after your parental leave will mean childcare costs, so factor those in now within a dedicated budget savings plan.

And of course, there are child-related expenses to consider such as food, nappies, newborn health insurance, medical bills, and incidental cash for the fact that time and energy will go to the baby. Think about how your life patterns will change and factor that in when creating a new budget.

Another measure is to set up the automatic payment function for all your necessary bills. Busy new parents may forget about everything but the baby, and a surprise late bill notice is not something you want to deal with.

New Ways to Work

A great business insight for women is to consider a parental career break as an opportunity for a perspective change. Firstly, have a proper conversation with your employer (if you have one) to ascertain exactly what your options are. You may be able to bring your work responsibilities home with you and work flexible hours from there during your career break.

If not, there are many options to take advantage of remote working or freelance job opportunities. Online job boards and freelance websites offer an increasing diversity of options to suit differing skill sets, and the trend in Australia is emphatically increasing.

Beyond this, the remote tech-enabled working approach naturally means you can continue to employ and hone your professional skills as a consultant. Building up a home-based consultancy may turn out to be a stepping stone to a more secure financial future.

Positive Advancement

A parental-related career break doesn’t have to mean your professional and financial life are compromised. With plenty of judicious forethought and preparation, the suggestions offered here can help you plan effectively and even convert this incredibly important period of your life into a professional win-win while reducing stress and letting you focus on your changing needs and, of course, your family.

Behind Closed Doors reflects the goal to inspire and connect business and career women, providing valuable support and resources to empower their professional development. Through mentoring, networking, events, and other tools, we help women help other women, promoting a culture that both inspires and helps them gain more success and progress in life. Contact us today and learn more about how we can help you succeed.


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Career Money Life’s Entrepreneurial CEO Sandy Hutchison Awarded Professional Development Scholarship

Sandy HutchisonFollowing a successful corporate career Melbourne businesswoman Sandy Hutchison in 2014 founded Career Money Life (CML). Her entrepreneurial leap received a boost today with the award of the coveted behind closed doors (BCD) entrepreneurs scholarship providing a 12-month fully-funded membership to the national network for businesswomen. 

The prized BCD Entrepreneurs Scholarship awards a female Melbourne entrepreneur the opportunity to tap into the considerable business acumen of some of the State’s leading businesswomen. The membership provides professional development, peer to peer mentoring and networking opportunities to assist with continued business growth and success.

“Sandy joins an enviable list of Alumni to have received the award including inaugural Melbourne recipient Fashion Designer Lisa Barron”, Founder and Managing Director of behind closed doors, Donny Walford, said.

“The BCD Entrepreneurs Scholarship has proven one of our most successful initiatives, records show scholarship recipients gain enhanced personal and professional skills that contribute to the increased success and sustainability of their business.”

In application for the scholarship Sandy Hutchison said, “Career Money Life is at a pivotal growth stage where we could benefit from any additional connections to understand how others have succeeded.”

As Scholarship recipient Sandy will receive a 12-month fully-funded BCD Entrepreneurs membership valued at more than $5,500. Members are placed into a cohort of fellow female business owners/entrepreneurs to meet for three hours, ten times a year, with a highly accomplished Facilitator and Program Director.  

“I started CML in 2014 and now we are a thriving business.  It will be great to share my experiences and help others.” Sandy said. 

A runner up BCD Entrepreneurs scholarship, providing an hour of mentoring, was awarded to Sarah Mackenzie of Embracia Victoria. 

BCD has been awarding Scholarships to businesswomen since 2012 when Adelaide Jewellery Designer Anna Dimond received a fully funded membership. Entrepreneurs Scholarships in Adelaide and Perth have also been announced this month with a Sydney award to be announced in September.

To find out more about BCDs national scholarship program and available memberships visit www.behindcloseddoors.com 

Issued by: Penny Reidy, behind closed doors, 0401 349 791 penny@behindcloseddoors.com

Stylish Entrepreneur Jacqui Dunn Announced Recipient of Prized Business Scholarship

Jacqui DunnInterior designer Jacqui Dunn has been announced recipient of behind closed doors (BCD) coveted Entrepreneur scholarship providing 12-months of professional development, peer to peer mentoring and networking to boost her latest business venture The Travelling Stylist.

The prized BCD Entrepreneurs scholarship awards a female Adelaide Entrepreneur the opportunity to tap into the considerable business acumen of some of the State’s leading businesswomen to assist with continued business growth and success.

“Jacqui joins an enviable list of Alumni to have received the award including inaugural recipient Palas Jewelry’s Anna Dimond and most recently 40 under 40 Award recipient Marie Sulda of Kaleidoscopic Travel”, Ms Walford, said.

“The BCD Entrepreneurs scholarship is undoubtedly one of our most successful initiatives, records show scholarship recipients gain enhanced personal and professional skills that contribute to the increased success and sustainability of their business.”

Jacqui Dunn is no stranger to the entrepreneurial world, she started her first business in 2009, co-founded a business in 2012 which she exited in 2014, and now is focusing on her latest venture The Travelling Stylist.

In application for the Scholarship Ms Dunn said, “There is no better feeling than being in an environment surrounded by strong, supportive professional women.”

As Scholarship recipient Ms Dunn will receive a 12-month fully funded BCD Entrepreneurs membership valued at more than $5,500. Members are placed into a cohort of fellow female business owners/entrepreneurs to meet for three hours, ten times a year, with a highly accomplished Facilitator and Program Director.

“Knowledge and tips from other like minded business women will be invaluable.” Ms Dunn said.

Two runner up BCD Entrepreneur scholarship awards, each providing an hour of mentoring, were awarded to Stacey Orrock of Envisage Business Solutions and Sarah Coligan of The Press Gallery.

BCD has been awarding Scholarships to businesswomen since 2012 when Melbourne Fashion Designer, Lisa Barron received a 12-month fully funded membership. As well as BCD funded scholarships, many organisations also choose to run internal company scholarships in providing opportunities for their female leaders.

To find out more about BCDs national scholarship program and memberships visit www.behindcloseddoors.com 

Issued by: Penny Reidy, behind closed doors, 0401 349 791 penny@behindcloseddoors.com

Perth Entrepreneur Allison Selman Announced Recipient of 2018 Scholarship

Allison SelmanEntrepreneurial Perth businesswoman Allison Selman, Director of engineering consulting company Atteris Pty Ltd, has been announced recipient of a 12-month professional development scholarship with national business women’s membership behind closed doors (BCD).

The prized scholarship awards a female Perth entrepreneur the opportunity to tap into the considerable business acumen of some of the state’s leading businesswomen through Behind Closed Doors’ professional development, peer to peer mentoring and networking membership.

“BCD is a professional development membership connecting businesswomen nationally and the Entrepreneurs scholarship is highly prized as one of our most successful initiatives,” BCD Founder and Managing Director, Ms Walford, said.

“Scholarship recipients emerge a 12-month membership with enhanced personal and professional skills that contribute to the increased success and sustainability of their business venture.”

Allison Selman accepted a Director position with Atteris Pty Ltd in July 2017 and shares the leadership of the engineering consulting company with four colleagues.

In application for the scholarship Allison said she was looking for an opportunity to tap into improved abilities and skills that will enable her to become a stronger leader, make better business decisions and expand her professional network.

Ms Selman said, “The BCD membership will provide support and professional skills to navigate my new directorship position, as well as improve my leadership of the growing not-for-profit Women in Subsea and Engineering group.”

The scholarship provides a 12-month fully funded BCD Entrepreneurs membership valued at more than $6,000. Members are placed into a cohort of fellow female business owners/entrepreneurs to meet for three hours, eight times a year, with a highly accomplished Facilitator and Program Director.

A runner up prize providing an hour of mentoring was awarded to Wendy Scott-Hamilton, Senior Manager Macquarie Bank.

BCD has also awarded Entrepreneur scholarships to businesswomen in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney with recipients being announced over the coming month.

Applications to award a scholarship to a female Executive working for a Not for Profit organisation will open in mid September.

For further information on how to apply or nominate for a BCD scholarship, along with eligibility criteria, visit www.behindcloseddoors.com/scholarships

Issued by: Penny Reidy, behind closed doors, 0401 349 791 penny@behindcloseddoors.com

A Mentor is Not Necessarily Someone Older Than You

Mentor may not be older than you

One key to achieving business or career success is to trust and accept guidance from someone who has ventured on a similar journey as you. This is why mentorship must never be ignored or underrated

When it comes to mentorship, studies have found that:

  • 80% of learning takes place between mentors and mentees
  • 75% of private sector executives say mentoring has been critical in their career trajectory
  • 79% of millennials believe mentorship programs are crucial to career success

So effective are regular and in-depth meetings between mentors and mentees that 71% of Fortune 500 companies such as Google, General Electric, and Intel have formal mentorship programs for career development.

But what about less explicit forms of mentorship, more informal relationships that still provide guidance for future success? The value of these informal mentorships shouldn’t be underestimated. When an individual, whether they are in a higher position than you or simply someone who has gained wisdom through their unique experiences, has a genuine desire to help you in your career, you may already be interacting with a mentor and not even realise it.

Pay attention to these interactions and you’ll be in a position to harness the pearls of wisdom your unofficial mentor is offering you. Part of being successful is being able to recognise value and then apply it to your career. 

Here’s what to look for to know if someone may already be mentoring you in some way, even if you aren’t in a formal mentor-mentee relationship. Remember, a mentor is not necessarily someone who is older than you.

1. The Advice They Give

Good mentors can be judged based on the advice they give. How relevant is it to your situation? Does it take into account what you’ve mentioned you’d like to achieve or opportunities you consider as valuable? Is it relevant to your experiences?

Often, informal mentor-mentee relationships are less direct with advice, but these interactions usually include a genuine interest in you as a person and what you do. A good way to tell if an informal mentorship is one of positive gain is if your informal mentor is also an active listener—if he or she is then the likelihood of getting good advice is higher since they’re putting you and your needs at the core of the conversation.

2. Their Attitude Towards You

In a study done by the University of the West of Scotland, it was revealed that having a positive attitude is just as important as experience and the ability to give feedback when it comes to mentorship. If your relationship with a person already involves encouragement, guidance, and drawing from personal experience, then it’s possible that you’re already in an informal mentorship.

Your informal relationship with a possible mentor can go beyond if and when their positive attitude leads to them championing you for particular opportunities and positions they know you’d be interested in and excel at.

3. An “Open-Door” Policy

Having an open-door policy when it comes to giving another person guidance or advice tells them that they are welcome and you’re willing to help. This creates a more positive feel or vibe in terms of informal mentorship, making communication easier. Katherine Power, Co-founder of Clique Media, shares this view saying that she turns to her friends who are also co-founders for advice and mentorship. “I don’t have a traditional mentor-mentee relationship, per se. Frankly, I think of many of my friends as mentors, as so many of them are either entrepreneurs themselves or are just killing it in their careers.”

She also credits this open-door policy as one that informs her own relationships with her employees. When those in a higher position—particularly those in positions of leadership—maintain an open-door policy, it allows potential mentees to approach them for sound boarding, updates, and more informal queries that can result in valuable pieces of knowledge. 

If someone you’re looking to approach for career or business advice or guidance leaves their door open for you and makes you feel welcome, that person could turn out to be the mentor you’ve been looking for.

4. Asking Insightful Questions

Even if it’s informal, a way to know if you’re already being mentored and guided in some way is analysing the questions you’re being asked. Asking good questions, is part of what being a great mentor is all about.

It might not be direct but insightful questions include topics around:

  • Your definition of success
  • Your plans
  • The obstacles you’re facing
  • Your options

Of course, these important questions are all about helping your story unfold the right way. When an informal mentor-mentee relationship is progressing, these questions will unfold organically, over time, and in a conversational manner.

The presence of these specific questions tells mentees that a potential mentor is interested in knowing more about their professional goals and personality. So, if someone is able to give you great advice patterned after these key questions, you might already be in an informal mentorship even if the both of you doesn’t realise it yet.

5. Changing the Context

Informal mentorship thrives in a new and casual context. It’s a chance to communicate more fluidly and candidly than in a more structured and formal teacher-student relationship.

For a potential mentor, it’s a chance to gain a more in-depth and accurate picture of who the mentee really is. And for the potential mentee, changing up the context to one that matches the informality of the relationship makes the entire thing seem less stressful and demanding.

An informal mentorship setting mirrors the informality of the relationship. It calls for a more honest exchange between both mentor and mentee. This could result in better, more useful advice since the former has a chance to know the latter better.

In her book, Common Sense Workplace Mentoring: A Do-It-Yourself Systemauthor Susan Degrandpre says that “Feedback…that is unstructured, on a real-time basis, comes from all directions…and is two-way.”

Regardless of whether a mentor-mentee relationship occurs informally, formally or as part of a greater, company-wide initiative, it’s important to find the right fit at all points. It’s also a good idea to branch out and seek advice from more than one individual, male and female.

Recognising that you’re already in an informal mentorship is important as it also paves the way for you to learn what to look for in a good mentor.  You could even become a mentor, thanks to the things you’ve learned from the people who have mentored you along the way, formally or informally.

Speaking of effective mentorship, it’s wise to join a community which puts a premium on helping each other gain more success. At Behind Closed Doors, we help women support other women towards more professional success. Through our mentorship, professional development, networking and events, we guide women to become better versions of themselves in their business or careers and help them do the same for other women. If you want to know more about what we do and how we can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.


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How to Properly Manage Millennial Employees

Managine MillennialsAh, millennials—they are, by far, the most popular age group in social media today. That said, while news and topics about millennials are becoming a regular occurrence, they can still seem to be a total mystery, especially to the older generations.

However, despite the scepticism and negative impressions they sometimes get, their potential shouldn’t be ignored. This is important since they’re already past their college days age-wise and are already venturing out to make a future for themselves, whether in business or the corporate world.

As such, as businesswomen and leaders who may be looking to hire millennials or are already working with them, how do you manage them in such a way that you’re able to bring out their potential while dealing with their quirks or defining characteristics? 

The fact is, managing millennial employees the right way is already a skill in itself. You have to assess the way you communicate, your corporate culture, and even your own prejudices and biases. Anne Collier, founder of executive coaching and training firm Arudia, says, “Be aware that you perceive others through your own lenses and that you judge millennials for theirs.”

What Is a Millennial, Really?

A millennial is someone aged between 22-37, which means they’re now adults and a large portion of the workforce. Pew Research reckons that one in three workers are now millennials and in some traditionally younger industries, such as real estate and technology, they can make up the majority of employees.

Diversity is important to more businesses these days and there are an increasing number of young businesswomen making an impact on companies. There is also a noticeable shift in the workplace as millennials bring their own unique culture. 

We all know that millennials are tech-savvy and creative, thanks to growing up with computers and social media. Being exposed to a wealth of viewpoints and opportunities in a more globally-connected world, many of them are independent thinkers who can think outside of the box, and many also have an idealistic streak, as is typical of most young people. Understandably, they do sometimes have trouble with the traditional hierarchical nature of the corporate business structure and prefer to engage and discuss rather than to simply listen and follow instructions. 

One challenge for many managers is a different work ethic. Millennial employees are known to place higher value on work-life balance and personal satisfaction than previous generations, who were prepared to work long hours to get promoted. 

The issue, then, is the way business managers and leaders engage this younger generation. How can people in leadership roles tap into their creativity and ingenuity, yet still inspire a strong work ethic? 

Offer Growth Opportunities Over Money

While they may not be as interested in working long hours with the hope of getting a pay increase or a promotion in a linear way, the flip-side is that they are motivated by personal and professional growth. If they can grow as professionals in their jobs, they may be willing to work hard and invest themselves into an organisation. Offering professional development opportunities, supporting them to further their education, and mentorship programs are all enticing and motivating to millennial workers.

In other words, money won’t be enough to entice them. Millennials can be idealistic when it comes to their advancement, so offering them professional and personal growth opportunities can help bring out the best in them.  

Let Them Know You Value Them 

David Kurzman founded the start-up Women’s Best, which is dedicated to helping women lead healthier lives. He works extensively with millennials and believes the secret to getting the most out of younger workers is to make them feel appreciated. “A good working atmosphere is even more important to them than the financial compensation,” he says. 

Something as simple as setting up monthly one-on-one meetings with your millennial employees can make a huge impact. This lets younger workers know that they are valued as individuals and it gives them a chance to ask questions and bring up any concerns. As millennials want to grow professionally, they’ll also appreciate the opportunity to have someone they respect let them know what they can do to improve.  

Let Them Have Their Tech

Millennials grew up with technology, so they also expect to use it in the workplace. If your business depends on outdated legacy software and non-digital methods, you’re sending a message to millennial employees that your company may not have the vision or drive to succeed in the future or, worse, that they’re not simply welcome. You’ll keep them inspired with the smart use of technology and digital devices. And, since they know how to use it, their productivity is also likely to increase, which will have a positive impact on your organisation as a whole. 

Making sure that your company is up-to-date with the digital revolution also sends the message that you would like to work with them, that they’re welcome, and that they can thrive in the culture you offer.

Be Accepting

Despite their talents, many older managers and business owners are still quite unconvinced when it comes to hiring millennials. This could be because of preconceptions or notions such as they like to take it easy, they’re too idealistic, they act overly-entitled, or they tend to lose focus easily. While these may be true, depending on the specific person, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire them. It’s important you see the value young people bring to your organisation, both in action and in words. 

Disagreements with them will arise—this is a given with any employees. How you deal with it is what’s crucial. You should act as a leader or a mentor —be firm but also make it a point to listen to what they have to say. Make it a point to demonstrate to them that you have no biases towards them. While differences in handling work or miscommunication are still bound to occur, if you show that you accept them, they’ll still want to work with you. Remember, millennials are also quite receptive. They’ll know if you don’t want to work with them, even if you don’t say it. 

Give Them a Chance to Lead

Learn to give your millennial workers the lead role on specific tasks or projects, even the minor ones. Nurture them and let them discover their strengths, their determination, and how they can improve their work ethic and attitude towards facing challenging tasks. 

Millennials are the present and the future, and they offer a treasure trove of skills and possibilities. To harness that potential, it’s important not to look at the younger generation as a liability and, instead, focus on helping them fulfil their true potential. 

If you find yourself needing more advice or guidance when it comes to boosting your business or career, you could always seek help from others. At Behind Closed Doors, we value and encourage women to support other women in their professional development and journey. With our peer mentoring, networking, events and other resources, we have the means to make this happen and to make women become better versions of themselves in their careers or businesses. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today and understand how we can work together for your success.


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Is There Still a Stigma about Flexible Work Hours and Arrangements?

Flexible WorkingA third of all Australian employees are self-styled “flexi-time” workers, and that makes up 4.1 million individuals, and counting. Freelancing and working flexible hours in Australia is becoming a more popular trend, and it’s changing how people approach and even define work.

There are many benefits of flexible working hours and freelancing, including the ability to set your own schedule and give more time to your family and social life. And, with online and remote communications becoming more and more reliable, effective, and efficient, flexible work arrangements should be even easier to adopt and implement in the coming years.

That being said—and despite its perceived advantages and advances in technology that make it possible—a stigma regarding working flexible hours, part-time telecommuting, and working remotely still exists. And, although it affects both genders, women are seemingly highlighted more in this regard due to societal expectations regarding the need to take care of a family including aging parents, household and bear children.

The Stigma—What is it and What’s Behind it?

The greatest argument for flexible working hours is that it enables a greater level of work-life balance or as I prefer to call it, work-life blending. The idea is to provide a workplace setup and working schedule that enables an employee to do what he or she needs to accomplish for work while also being able to have more time to spend with family, friends and for themselves. It puts greater emphasis on the overall satisfaction of employees because, a happy employee is a more productive employee.

However, the stigma that comes along with flexible working hours cuts to the heart of trust in the workplace on the one hand and the way we “measure” and standardise workers at every level, on the other, especially as they move towards positions of management and leadership.

For women, the stigma shows up in a number of ways in the corporate workplace and business environment such as:

  • Women are routinely denied flexible work arrangements because their “motives” are seen to be related to family care even if the reason for their request has absolutely nothing to do with their personal lives.
  • Women experience a “women’s work penalty” where, even if they’re working in a female-owned business or female-dominated niche, there’s likely to be a significant reduction in access to schedule control
  • Women who request a flexible work schedule to advance their careers are still likely to be denied because it’s assumed they’ll leave their jobs in the future (for family planning and care).

The stigma for men is that their male peers question their commitment to their career if they choose flexible working arrangements as well as requesting parental leave.

A significant barrier to normalising and accepting flexible hours as a standard is the fact that many companies and businesses have a set and very strict policy on working schedules that cannot be altered, especially on a per individual employee basis. In this setting, requesting for flexible hours might be discouraged and frowned upon, further implying that there’s something wrong with it and perpetuating the stigma.

According to a study conducted by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, flexible working hours is still viewed not as a standard but more of an exception to the rule in many Australian companies.

Adding to that, less than 50% of organisations have a workplace flexibility policy in place. This lack of formal policy communicates where a company’s priority and preference lie.

And when women do try to access flexible working arrangements, according to Joan C. Williams, Director at the Centre for Work-Life Law, there are companies having flexible work policies on paper, though it’s known to their employees that they’ll be informally penalised if they use them.

Overturning Conventional Wisdom 

To begin changing this perception, trust and leadership should be taken into consideration. Firstly, the key to better and more willing adoption of flexible working arrangements is trust. There is a sense that those who seek flexible working arrangements are more likely to be distracted, splitting their attention and, thus, seemingly becoming less committed to their tasks.

This tells us that there is a distinct perception at play: working in the comfort of one’s own home or schedule, employees are not actually being as productive as they might be while physically in the office. In my experience the opposite is true.

Secondly, it will take individuals in positions of leadership (who themselves might require flexible working hours) to encourage acceptance. If those in the higher positions become more open to the idea of flexible working arrangements, there’s a good chance they’ll be able to influence those below them as well, creating a trickle-down effect.

There’s also the idea of workplace culture. There needs to be a culture in place in an organisation that not just accepts but also enables flexible working arrangements. As David Thodey, former CEO of Australian mobile phone company Telstra, says, “We have the enabling technology, now we need the enabling culture…You need a performance-based culture, where flexibility is just built-in.”

Moving Forward on Flexible Work Arrangements

Contrary to more entrenched beliefs in workplace culture, making the option to go for flexible working hours available is a great way to attract new talent and could also lead to more success in the long-term.

  • Employees who seek flexible working hours and arrangements are actually more productive and happier than those who remain confined to conventional working schedules. Results can also include lowered costs, decreased staff turnover, and reduced absences.
  • Companies can also strengthen their credibility by showing clients that they are ready to respond and are available “24/7,” thanks to flexible working arrangements that can make employees more readily accessible.
  • Flexible working schedules can also enhance an organisation’s ability to be more innovative, which can help them better prepare for future changes and trends.

For flexible working arrangements to be widely accepted, more organisations need to be encouraged to adopt it, and show good results for doing so. The good news is, more and more companies and people in top management positions are embracing this idea.

Take Envato, for example. The digital creative design marketplace tapped into and benefitted from granting internal employees flexible working arrangements. Their “universal workplace flexibility program” promises their Australian-based employees and global contractors the option to work from anywhere, anytime. What’s notable is that this is a stated policy and program being deliberately rolled out and encouraged across the whole company.

And their motivations for doing so? “The globalisation of work is coming, and it’s transformative. We want to stay competitive, attract the best, and get ahead of that,” says Envato HR Director James Law.

So, in summary, granting flexible working arrangements is not just for the benefit of the employees. Implemented correctly, it will result in more than just happy employees, it will also lead to increased productivity and flexibility, allowing a company to be more competitive in the global stage and possibly even more prepared for the future.

For women who want more insights, advice, and guidance when it comes to professional development, it always helps to join a business network you can trust. At Behind Closed Doors, we help women, help other women, improve and be closer to success in their careers or businesses. We offer peer mentoring, networking, professional development, support and other tools, events, and resources to help you in your career. Contact us today to learn how we can help you be more successful than you think is possible.


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Challenges Start-ups Face and How to Overcome Them

Challenges Start Ups FaceStarting a business is a great journey. It means that you’ve decided to follow your dreams and empower yourself. From the moment you come up with an innovative idea to the moment you sell your first product or service, there are many exciting times. However, pursuing your own business also comes with different challenges. It takes detailed planning, plenty of brainstorming, advice from others, and resources to successfully run your own business. 

The number of SMEs continues to rise. Australia is already home to over 2.1 million small businesses, and a new business is created every 100 seconds! Yet, despite entrepreneurship’s rising popularity, start-up culture brings its own unique set of difficulties and problems that need to be addressed if success is to be gained. 

Let’s look at some of the major challenges you might face when running a start-up, and how to avoid or overcome them.

Finding the Right People 

Finding the right people to work with is extremely important. You’ll have to make sure that those you want to include in your business know how to handle the tasks assigned to them with quality and efficiency in mind. Otherwise, you will find yourself struggling with sub-par products, services, or employee performance, which can quickly lead to negative reviews for your business. 

But this goes beyond performance. Having the right people in your team also means working with those who share your passion or, at the very least, would like your business to thrive and grow. This helps improve communication and builds trust. If you know that you can trust and rely on your team, you will have more peace of mind. 

Networking with other businesswomen is a great way to meet like-minded people. Not only to meet possible employees and clients but to also to promote a profile of your business. You can also use social media platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with people you think will be the right cultural fit in your business, as well as attend community workshops in your area to meet potential partners, employees, and even advisors or mentors. Having a good network means you can ask them for referrals for business or introduce you to potential employees.  

Access to Funding 

Funding is probably the biggest stumbling block when it comes to starting your own business. If you don’t have sufficient funds, your business might not grow as fast as it could or you might not be able to bring it beyond the initial growth phase. For female entrepreneurs, this challenge may prove to be even more difficult. Even today, many women still struggle to get access to needed capital for different reasons, from lacking connections to the certainly inaccurate stereotype or image of a successful businessperson. 

However, there are many alternative ways women can try to gain funding for their businesses, including crowdfunding, partnerships, and seeking angel investors. Again, networking plays a crucial role here. When done right, it will lead you to the right connections that could help you gain more funding for your business.

Marketing and Spreading the Word 

Effective marketing is vital for any business, especially for start-ups. You have to get the word out that you exist, and that you’re great at what you do. Failing to do so means less visibility and smaller market reach, resulting in not enough people to buy or avail of your products or services to fuel more growth.

What makes things worse is that start-ups usually don’t have a large marketing budget. The good news is, there are ways you can market your business without having to spend a huge amount of money. One way is through social media. Platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and even Instagram are now being used by businesses both big and small to promote what they offer. If you have a good social media marketing strategy, quality content, and dedication to monitor your business’ social media profiles, you’ll definitely be a lot closer to successfully marketing your business online (and acquiring more funds for additional growth).

Dealing with Competitors 

Start-ups often have to compete with larger, more established businesses. As such, it can be difficult to stand-out at first. This is where digital marketing comes into play—it basically helps level the marketing field since both start-ups and big companies can go online to promote their products and services.

To ensure that your business doesn’t get lost in your specific industry, you can also build strong relationships and partner with other businesses to promote your brand or get more leads and referrals. Aside from potentially getting more clients, this helps you create more buzz within your industry that will help spread the word about your business. The key here is to not to become overly excited or impatient. Poor planning or rushing things and being careless will lead to poor decision-making—it’s better to be strategic and attain steady growth.

Being Sustainable

Starting and running a business is one of the biggest decisions and challenges many of us will face in life. If done right, it could lead to financial security and plenty of exciting opportunities in the future. However, when running a start-up, it is important to make sure your business is sustainable. Think in terms of the “now” and the future. Will your business still be relevant in a few years’ time?

An important part here is basing your enterprise on an idea or concept that’s not just great on paper but also works in business. This means that it’s something that has consistent demand and you can tweak or improve on to better suit the changing market. It’s also important to spend time to do forecasting and market research to better prepare for what’s ahead—attending networking events, seminars, and workshops can give you valuable insights here. It’s critically important that you know your numbers – if you don’t understand your business casts, unit costs and you don’t understand how to interpret your profit and loss statement and balance sheet, get some help by way of mentor or do a short course. Cash is King!   

Don’t Give Up

There will always be growing pains in the start-up journey and, as you try to expand your business, some of these difficulties will perhaps become even harder. However, with proper preparation in place and the right support structure, you can make a successful transition from being an early-stage start-up to becoming an established business. The secret is to not give up.

Adda Birnir, founder of and instructor at online tech-education company Skillcrush, says, “One of the most important things I have learned is that businesses don’t fail, entrepreneurs give up. Now sometimes, giving up is the right decision. But usually, you just need to dig in and figure out how to make things better. Remember: Every day is a new opportunity to get up and do it better than yesterday!” 

More and more women are deciding to be innovative and walk on the entrepreneurship path. Factors such as trends in the marketplace, developments in the global business scene, increasing financing options, and mentorship are encouraging more women to become entrepreneurs. By learning how to face and deal with the aforementioned challenges, we’ll also begin to see even more women running and leading not just start-ups but also big, global companies in the near future.

For aspiring female entrepreneurs, it’s always a wise idea to seek guidance from people who can help you in your business journey. At Behind Closed Doors we work towards the professional development of women. With networking, peer mentorship, and other tools and resources, we assist business and career women help and guide each other towards more growth and success, whether as entrepreneurs or professionals. Contact us today to know more about how we can help you. 


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Why Women Should Not Be Afraid to Celebrate their Success 

Celebrate SuccessWe all know, or know of successful women. They may be skilled or highly qualified women who excel in their fields, women who manage companies, or those who lead and innovate. Whoever they may be, one thing’s for sure: women should be proud of what they have achieved. In fact, SBS News reports that more Australian women are operating their own companies than ever before, with more than 600,000 small businesses being led by women.

All too often though, women play down their competence as well as their accomplishments. Perhaps it’s through modesty, not wanting to be seen to brag, fear of what others will think, or lack of self-belief. If this sounds like you, it’s time to stop downplaying your success and instead celebrate it. Here are several reasons why women should hold their heads high and own their success.

Successful Women Deserve to Be Recognised

In an ideal world, we would all be recognised for what we have achieved and everyone would know how good we are at our jobs or careers. However, it’s not always the case that you will be applauded by others for what you can do or have done. It’s essential, therefore, that you take ownership for your own success. The following can help you do just that:

  • Advertise your business’ awards and accolades where others can see them.
  • Display personal achievements or educational certificates around your business or workplace.
  • Record your accomplishments on your website, CV, personal profiles, and LinkedIn profile.

There are numerous awards for businesswomen in Australia that will help you gain the exposure you deserve. For example, The Telstra Business Woman Awards, The Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards celebrate women who are disrupting the status quo through inspiring leadership and The Women in Business Awards of Australia recognise and honour women making a difference across Queensland.

So, celebrate your success and learn and be comfortable with being visible. If you’re uncomfortable with publicity, remember this: “The only thing that is stopping you from getting where you are to where you want to go, is your comfort zone.”

Successful Women Set an Example for other Women

By owning their success, accomplished and experienced business and career women can encourage others and give them the benefit of their wisdom. Whether it’s recording your story in an article or mentoring other women, you can empower other women to succeed. By mentoring, you can inspire collaboration and offer valuable and authentic insights, leading other women to excel.

Violet Roumeliotis, CEO of Settlement Services International and winner of the 2017 Telstra Business Woman of the Year award, encourages mentorship. In an article in smartcompany, she talked about the importance of entrepreneurs lending their experience to others in refugee and migrant communities to encourage the growth of the business ecosystem in those areas. By claiming their success, women become more visible to other women aspiring for the same achievements, becoming examples and promoting mentorship opportunities in the process.

Successful Women Gain More Professional Opportunities

Often, success is followed by advice-giving. When people are aware of your story, they will want to tap into your expertise. This will present even more opportunities for you to make connections and gain contacts which might prove useful in the future.

Tell yourself “This is my success, so I deserve this” and allow yourself to acknowledge your strengths and achievements. Doing so will inspire you to achieve even more and go out to find and build new connections and professional relationships that could lead to even more success.

Positive thinking leads to taking assertive action, which is more likely to accomplish tangible results. In other words, when you know you have achieved something, your confidence soars—this also means that you’re likely to positively influence others. The result? You are now with a mindset that allows you to achieve even more. It’s the “I can do it” way of thinking. Believe you are successful and you will go on to gain more success.

On the other hand, being too shy or timid or lacking motivation to get yourself heard might result in complacency that will hold you back from communicating and collaborating with other people. This hinders your growth and could lead to you missing opportunities because you weren’t able to get the message out that you’re a woman with great potential for achieving even more.

Successful Women Are an Inspiration

Any person who succeeds can be an inspiration to others. It is part of human nature that when we see something can be done, we are motivated to go for it as well. Your success story could sow the seed for someone who lacks confidence or trigger someone to take risks.

Remember that by not celebrating and advertising your success, you are selling yourself short and could even be inadvertently preventing yourself from achieving all that you are capable of. You are stopping other people from learning about your success and preventing them from finding you for help and advice.

“If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction,” says philanthropist, businesswoman, and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda Gates. “Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.”

If you want to be inspired, learn from, or collaborate with fellow business or career women who have gained success in their own fields, it’s a wise decision to join a professional network built for women. At Behind Closed Doors, we help women attain greater heights in terms of their professional development as well as instil confidence for them to celebrate their achievements and promote broadly and confidently. In addition, we bring businesswomen together to encourage and promote collaboration. Through networking, mentorship, and other tools we offer, we are able to help and inspire our members to gain more success, and be proud to do so. Talk to us today to understand how we can assist you to be successful in your career.


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Why Having More Women in Leadership Roles Is Good for Business

Women in LeadershipWhile it’s true that women have been enjoying increasing success in attaining top business leadership roles, and that the imbalance between the genders is closing each year, this evolution could still be deemed incremental. In fact, only 6.4% of Fortune 500 companies are run by female CEOs. This equates to roughly 32 companies out of 500. Just 11 female CEOs are on the ASX 200, and 41 of the nation’s largest companies don’t have a woman on their executive leadership.

It is clear there is work to be done in reaching a more substantial sense of balance, not just to attain the ideal of equality but also because of the simple fact that having more women in leadership roles is good for business. Here’s a look at why women benefit businesses when they are in more leadership roles, and how they positively impact the careers of others when they do so.

Women Drive Long-Term Thinking

Recent studies indicate that women tend not to think in straight lines. This non-linear perception in business means seeing a wider array of possible pathways as a web of interrelated concepts, instead of a step-by-step progression. Such a versatile and holistic outlook can lead to greater consideration of variables and options, generating a wider spectrum of contextual solutions that reach farther forward because they are less compartmentalised

This results in a longer term appreciation of events and an avoidance of the pitfalls of short-term thinking. For organisations, this means a greater ability to foresee opportunities and avoid future risks. This allows them to be more prepared, better plan, and adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach in handling trends and threats. Seeing this kind of thinking in action also gives other female entrepreneurs an approach of how to better run a business in terms of future planning and preparation.

Role Models for Other Women

C-suite women leaders serve as role models to other women, demonstrating to female employees what is possible in their own careers if they want to work hard for it. The more women see and interact with successful women, the more likely they are to engage more with their careers in order to further their own professional lives. This leads to these women becoming more inspired and focused and, as a result, offering more to the organisations they work for.

This role model effect has a significant impact on inspiring women to achieve a greater level of success. A recent study found that 83.3% of women in the tech industry who want a C-suite role also say they have a role model. The fact that women at the top encourage other women to excel at their work creates a culture where hard work is seen as valuable not just to the business itself but also for enhancing and taking the careers of individuals to the next level.

Enhanced Workplace Inclusivity

Women tend to be socially inclusive. This quality is a key driver that can demolish the traditional barriers within organisations that divide and exclude, not just along gender lines but also along culture and race. Businesses that are led by women who promote an enduring cultural understanding of social cohesion and diversity thrive not just locally but also globally. This is due to employees being assessed on their merits, not their loyalties or differences.

Women leaders are also adept at promoting the view that employees are as important as the bottom line. This leads to working environments within organisations that value employees and their insights more, making them feel as “part of the team” and that their contributions are recognised. When businesses value each and every employee and what they have to say, positive results happen such as increased workplace satisfaction, better collaboration and communication between the company’s internal teams, and reduced employee turnover.

Emotional Intelligence to Guide a More Positive Environment

Women score highly in emotional intelligence, and this can make them incredibly effective leaders. Women are equipped to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals on their team. This awareness makes it easier to ensure employees are working to their full potential, that their needs within the business are met, and that group dynamics are healthy and productive in the workplace.

In organisational group settings, higher emotional intelligence often comes with the type of social sensitivity required to read non-verbal cues and map underlying intentions. Women can quickly understand the group, where the conversation is heading, and how to best form and guide consensus to deliver objectives. This also fosters a deeper understanding of what each employee has to say and reduces miscommunication within the team.

All This Leads to Business Growth

Women in leadership roles initiate feedback loops that continue to drive structural growth. Research demonstrates that inclusive, diverse companies outperform their counterparts by up to 80%. Ignoring or downplaying the need for equality in business leadership is not just a form of backward thinking, it is also one of the easiest ways to stifle growth. Businesses with strong female leadership generate higher Return on Equity (10.1%) than those without (7.4%).

It’s a brighter road ahead once we understand that having more women in leadership roles is not something for companies to simply check off a list. It is a starting point for multiple paths to inclusion and diversity, both bottom line organisational necessities that will generate resilience and progress. This improves the chances of strategic adaptation and long-term revenue development, both indicators of real, sustainable growth.

But of course, if you want to aim for a leadership role, it’s not enough for the organisation to want you—you must be prepared and have the necessary competencies, capabilities and skills as well. And, if you really want to enhance and develop your leadership skills, you must not work on it alone—you have to interact, communicate, and work with others since being a leader means building and nurturing professional relationships as well. This is why we recommend joining a strong network of like-minded people and/or hire an Executive Coach/Mentor to help you achieve that goal.

Behind Closed Doors is a leading national network of businesswomen that aims to help, support, and encourage each other to reach a higher level of success and professional development. Through networking, mentorship, and other resources, we promote collaborations, communication, and interactions that will help you be ready to drive your business or career forward, and become a better and more effective leader along the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us; we’ll be more than happy to help you out.


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Perth Luminaries Scholarship Awarded to Nadine Magill

Nadine Magillbehind closed doors’ (BCD) coveted Perth 2018 Luminaries Scholarship, providing a 12-month fully funded membership of professional and personal development, has been awarded to Nadine Magill, State Manager at Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

Announcing the results, BCD Founder and Managing Director, Donny Walford, said the scholarship is awarded to a successful woman seeking access to a peer-mentoring group for enhanced leadership success.

“The working sessions the recipient joins allow her to tap into a powerhouse of knowledge in a room that generates new insights, ideas and solutions. “ Ms Walford said.

“I extend my congratulations to our winner, Nadine Magill, as well as our worthy runners up, Leah Kenna, Corporate Services Manager at Gumala Aboriginal Corporation and Anne Mulholland, Change Manager at St John of God Health Care.” Ms Walford said.

Ms Magill has enjoyed a successful career working in various not for profit organisations, only recently being appointed State Manager of Prostate Cancer Foundation.

“Being a part of behind closed doors will enable me to have robust discussions with fellow peers who will challenge my thought process and reasoning for my decisions in a supportive and professional environment.” Ms Magill said.

In accepting the award Ms Magill acknowledged the Luminaries membership would, with the assistance of an encouraging group of strong professional businesswomen, enable her to build influence and conquer her goals.

The BCD Luminaries Scholarship offers businesswomen the opportunity to further expand their leadership and management skills through a year-long membership to BCD Luminaries, valued at more than $5,500.

BCD Luminaries was created in response to an identified need for motivated businesswomen to have a professional sounding board and support network where they can discuss professional and personal issues, challenges and strategies in a totally confidential environment while, at the same time, encouraging each other to extend themselves to achieve and succeed in new environments.

Members meet for three hours, ten times a year, for group mentoring, professional development and networking with like-minded women. In addition to monthly sessions, further professional development, networking with senior men and women and mentorship opportunities are provided to members amongst the broader BCD community and sponsors at a national level.

BCD has awarded 12-month fully funded Luminaries memberships as scholarships annually in Adelaide for seven years. In 2018 Luminaries scholarships are offered also in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.

Issued by:
Penny Reidy, Marketing Manager, Behind Closed Doors on 8333 4303 or 0401 349 791 or penny@behindcloseddoors.com    www.behindcloseddoors.com

Entrepreneur Scholarship

Marie Sulda 2016 Entrepreneur Scholarship WinnerBCD’s Entrepreneur Scholarship program is not an Award for the best, most accomplished and impressive business woman, but rather a scholarship to provide an opportunity to a female looking for a challenge and avenue to grow and develop herself and her fellow members.

Applications for 2018 closed Monday 18 June.

Entrepreneur Scholarship

The recipient of the Entrepreneur Scholarship will receive a 12-monthly fully funded BCD Entrepreneurs membership. Four Entrepreneur Scholarships will be awarded in 2018 one each in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Congratulations to 2018 recipients

About BCD Entrepreneurs Membership

The behind closed doors Entrepreneurs membership was created in response to a need for female business owners and entrepreneurs to have a support network where they can discuss strategies, issues and challenges in a totally confidential environment, while at the same time encourage each other to extend themselves further to achieve and succeed in their business ventures.

The membership aims to:

  • Deliver practical management and leadership sessions to generate more effective business owners and leaders.
  • Provide a confidential business owner’s support network.
  • Expand and broaden networks and business relationships.
  • Extend individuals personally and professionally.
  • Encourage and support members to nominate for Board and committee positions.
  • Mentor peers to accept greater business challenges.
  • Assist members to participate in awards programs such as the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
  • Increase the expertise of female business owners and entrepreneurs.

What will the Entrepreneur Scholarship recipient receive?

The Entrepreneur Scholarship recipient will receive a 12-month membership to behind closed doors Entrepreneurs membership. Groups meet 10 times a year for a three-hour peer mentoring/coaching session (from 12pm to 3pm) at a Boardroom located on the premises of one of our supporters. Each session includes a light lunch. As a bcd Entrepreneur you will also receive:

  • Automatic inclusion into the BoardDirect register
  • Access to a select executive and business owners women’s network.
  • Professional and personal development in a stimulating environment.
  • Exposure and introductions to senior people in business and government.
  • Private sessions with local identities and guest speakers.
  • Opportunities to discuss strategies, issues and challenges in a supportive women’s forum.
  • Invitations to quarterly Businesswomen’s Connexions (network) functions.
  • Opportunities for Board Directorships.
  • Mentoring with a behind closed doors Executive group member.


behind closed doors Entrepreneurs is designed for female business owners and entrepreneurs who are leading a team of employees. To be eligible you must currently own and operate a small to medium size business, with a minimum turnover of $250,000 per annum, and can demonstrate:

  • Entrepreneurship and leadership ability
  • Why the scholarship will benefit you
  • How the scholarship will benefit your business


To apply, you must complete an online application form by 5pm Monday 18 June.


If you know someone that would benefit from a behind closed doors membership, why not nominate them today.

To nominate a business woman for a behind closed doors scholarship, please email the following four items to scholarship@behindcloseddoors.com

  • Name of the business woman you are nominating
  • Their Title/Company Name
  • Their Business contact details, including email and telephone number
  • Your name and contact details

We will let them know they have been nominated and request them to complete an application.

Finalist Interviews

Shortlisted finalists will be invited to present their eligibility to a panel of judges.

The 2018 panel interviews took place 4 July. Applicants must be available to attend panelist interviews.


The winner must be:

  • Open to receiving publicity for winning the Scholarship
  • Available to attend the public acknowledgement at a Connexions networking event:
    • Perth: July 17 5:30pm
    • Adelaide: September 27 5:30pm
    • Melbourne: December 11 5:30pm
    • Sydney: September 11 5:30pm
  • Available to commence the behind closed doors Entrepreneurs membership in August 2018.


Tina Tutic - National Program Manager

For scholarship enquiries, please contact Tina Tutic, behind closed doors Scholarship Manager on 08 8333 4303 or email scholarship@behindcloseddoors.com

For enquiries of how you can obtain an Entrepreneurs membership, please contact behind closed doors on 08 8333 4303 or email info@behindcloseddoors.com


Having a Plan B: How to Ensure Your Business Survives

Having a Plan BNo one likes to think about the possibility of their business failing or running into trouble. However, as a true businessperson, you need to take the time to work through a plan for how you will handle potential issues. Having a “Plan B” can help your business get through the tough times so that you can achieve continuous success and growth.

As difficult or unsettling as it is to plan for possible failure, the fact of the matter is that 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first year and a half of operation. With the majority of entrepreneurs closing in less than 18 months, what can you do to ensure your business is one of the survivors? You need to know how to identify when your current strategy isn’t working and have a Plan B in place to put your company back on the road to success.

Why Having a Plan B Is Important

On episode 28 of the popular podcast “Success Unfiltered,” entrepreneur and single mother Kate Nowlan discussed finding herself suddenly fired after only five months of working in a job. Nowlan discovered that having a Plan B could have saved her months of stress and anxiety in the chaotic aftermath.

She describes how, despite having absolutely no idea what to do, she still had a family to feed. She needed to buy some time to think things through, dig deep, and lay the groundwork for her next moves. Naturally, this forced Kate to get desperate, not with finances but with opportunities. She mined her past connections and networks and let them know she would be heading back to work as a personal trainer in the interim.

The moral of the story is quite simple: having a Plan B is not just sensible, it’s what can free you up to go for opportunities without any fear. Rather than distracting you or making you overconfident, as the common groupthink about back-up plans goes, having a Plan B can be precisely what allows you to dive into your business headfirst with full effort and focus. It’s a safety net of your own making.

Plan B Pitfalls

Studies on the psychology behind Plan Bs sometimes condemn this mindset, citing the relationship between having one and the amount of effort you put into your existing business. The thinking goes that if you have a solid back-up plan in place, you won’t try as hard to help your business succeed, setting yourself up for failure right from the start. This shouldn’t be the case. Remember that having to call on your Plan B, no matter how good it is, means that you’ve already wasted time, effort, and resources. Simply put, you should always aspire to succeed and not be complacent just because you have a fall back.

Another common mistake that many entrepreneurs make is coming up with a Plan B that isn’t as compelling or interesting as Plan A. Rather than taking the time and effort to devise a real Plan B, they give this task the brush-off, thinking they’ll never have to use it anyway. Then, when they do have to call on Plan B, it hasn’t been thought through enough to be viable or realistic.

Elements of a Successful Plan B

Your Plan B should be just as carefully thought out and planned as your Plan A. It is not enough just to know what you could do if Plan A fails—you need to have actionable steps that you can implement with confidence when needed.

Another key element of a successful Plan B is the ability to act quickly. This means that you’ll need some financial liquidity or the needed resources to be able to put your Plan B into action. If you’re running a business, make sure that your accounting and legal teams or service providers are aware of your contingency plans so they can be prepared as well.

When implementing your Plan B, reach out to your existing network of leads and connections when needed to start bringing in new customers and ask for referrals or assistance. You don’t have to go through this alone, so make use of your support system and professional associates.

Finally, your Plan A needs to have an end point. This does not mean the point where you give up on your business, but rather the point when Plan B becomes your new Plan A. As you rebuild your business after a setback, you need to identify when it is time to stop rebuilding and start implementing your other plan.

Don’t Be Shy about Asking for Help

Sometimes, no matter how intelligent or skilled we are, we’ll still need the help of others to succeed or avoid failure. At Behind Closed Doors, you’ll be in the company of fellow business and career women who will guide and share with you key insights for success, may it be for developing an effective Plan B or for taking your business to the next level. You’ll also have access to networking, mentorship, and other resources that aim to elevate the professional development of women. Get in touch with us today.


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2017 Perth Executive Profit for Purpose

The Executive Director Operations Nulsen Disability Services, Caroline Watt, has been announced recipient of behind closed doors’ (BCD) “Profit for Purpose” Scholarship in Perth for 2017.


Caroline Watt, a highly experienced Executive who leads teams of professionals, managers and support staff at one of Western Australia’s leading disability services organisations, impressed the judges with her enthusiasm to embrace change. Read More

2017 Melbourne Luminaries Recipient

WorleyParsons’ Friska Wirya announced recipient of behind closed doors’ (BCD) Luminaries (managers/team leaders) Scholarship providing 12-months fully funded membership to the coveted professional development, peer to peer mentoring and networking organisation.


Ms Wirya, a senior transformation manager, through her written application for the scholarship showed a strong commitment to personal and professional development. Having overcome a number of personal challenges in her life, she hopes to publish her life’s journey in the near future. Read More

2017 Sydney Executive Not for Profit Recipient

CEO of WorldShare, Joanna Mansfield, announced recipients of Behind Closed Doors’  Sydney 2017 Profit for Purpose Executive Scholarship.

Joanna Mansfield, recently appointed to the position of CEO WorldShare, is steering an organisation through a pivotal period of transformation. Surrounding herself with a network of fellow Executive women will provide a unique sounding board for her as she navigates the company’s success. Read More

2017 Adelaide Executive Not for Profit Recipient

Senior Manager, Disability and Mental Health Services, AnglicareSA, Kate Rush, announced recipient of Behind Closed Doors’ (BCD) “Profit for Purpose” Scholarship in Adelaide for 2017.

Founder and Managing Director of the respected professional development and mentoring company Donny Walford, said the 12-month Scholarshipwas awarded to a successful female executive in the Profit for Purpose sector to further expand and challenge current leadership and business practices. Read More


2017 Adelaide Executive Not for Profit Recipient

The CEO of Media Centre for Education Research Australia, Cathie Brown announced recipient of Behind Closed Doors’ (BCD) “Profit for Purpose” Scholarship in Adelaide for 2017

Cathie Brown is an experienced leader with visionary thinking coupled with a focus on getting results. She has developed organisations and executed strategy, led major organisational change and performance optimisation projects, marketed organisations and brokered profitable agreements. Read More.

2017 Adelaide Luminaries Recipient

South Australian welding technology manufacturer and exporter, K-TIG, achieved another success in the start-ups short history when Operations Manager, Belinda Latz, was announced the recipient of behind closed doors’ (BCD) coveted Luminaries Scholarship.

“Belinda has been with K-TIG since start-up, with planned growth trajectory in the next three years the behind closed doors Luminaries membership will arm Belinda with the skills needed to match her career growth to that of the company.” Read More

Keys to Effective Time Management for New Businesswomen

Time Management AdviceWasting time—it’s got a lot to answer for. And we’re not just talking about getting carried away watching videos on YouTube or spending hours on Facebook. When you run a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the unimportant tasks and neglect the bigger picture, not to mention the other areas of your life. Entrepreneurs often become bogged down by certain details that waste time and hamper their path towards success. This is true for a lot of women in the workforce, not just entrepreneurs.

If you’re a new entrepreneur and this sounds all too familiar to you, it’s time to sit down, take stock and start managing your business time more intelligently by following these essential tips.

Pay Attention to Self-Care

It might seem contradictory to start by suggesting that you should spend more time on yourself rather than on your business, but hear me out. The term self-care or wellbeing seems to be on everyone’s lips lately, and for good reason: women don’t prioritise it enough. Making time for yourself leads to a healthier life and helps you to manage stress better. If you don’t practise self-care, you can burn out and your business could very well fail as a result.

If you find it difficult to put yourself above work, schedule in some “me” time—even if it’s just to take a long bath—and don’t put it off. Having a break when you can wind down will make you feel refreshed and ready to dive straight into working on your business again. Believe me, a fresh mind is a creative mind and you know that’s correct because when you finally take holidays, your best ideas are formed.

Amp up Your Efficiency

Efficiency is key to having a successful business. You should know how to spend your time wisely and make the most out of it. Ways to efficiently manage your business time include working in set intervals and ensuring you turn off your notifications during this period to avoid distractions.

You can multitask, yet do so properly—switching back and forth between different tasks without progress is a waste of your precious time. It would be better to instead choose one specific task to complete and see it through until it’s finished. This way, you’ll be able to focus your attention on that task, allowing you to dedicate more of your physical and mental resources to it so you can finish faster and more effectively.  Write a top three list and as you achieve an action, add another to the list. This helps you prioritise what is important and must be done, and prevents you getting overwhelmed with a To Do list that gets longer than your arm!

Focus on Your Work-Life Flow

As a woman new to the entrepreneurial scene, chances are you’re eager to spend time growing your business. That’s good since it shows that you have the drive, determination, and enthusiasm to succeed. Be warned though, too much of something is never good, and this includes business time.

As such, make sure you also make time for your family and friends. It’s easy to work, sleep, repeat, but your productivity will likely suffer—along with your social life. When you become so one-track-minded, it’s easy for the creative part of your brain to switch off. Plus, family and friends are important. If there’s a problem with your business down the line, they’ll be the ones who will be around to support you or even help you find solutions.

Organise Your Working Time Effectively

Time management is a key skill to master. With experience and a game plan you can solidify your skills in this area. Increase your productivity by tracking the amount of time you spend on tasks. If you seem to be spending too long on something in particular, assess how you can speed things up or even delegate to your employees as needed. Sometimes, taking a break for 10 minutes allows you to see the task differently and you tend to complete it in a more efficient manner.

It’s also a great idea to make a proper plan or schedule on how to tackle certain projects, including the amount of time to spend on each section of it. Try to stick to this as it will also act as your own personal deadline. With digestible chunks of work, it’s easier to stay focused on each one. Be realistic with your time management goals so you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Take Regular Breaks

As well as encouraging yourself to take time off to pursue your social life, have some quality family time, and to look after yourself, make sure to schedule in a few breaks throughout the working day. According to psychologists, this actually makes you far more efficient and productive. With regular breaks, you’ll be able to complete your goals much faster and with more efficiency. Just make sure they’re the right type of breaks, example: go for a walk and get some fresh air—those that help you recharge yourself or gather your thoughts, depending on the situation. If you’re stopping for a couple of chocolate bars and a fizzy drink, this will likely make you feel more tired later when the sugar slump hits.

Delegate the Right Way

If you have your own team or employees, it’s also wise to delegate some of the tasks to them when necessary. Remember, running the show on your own will lead to a greater chance of being physically and mentally exhausted. Trust those who are in the business with you and delegate certain tasks to people you know can handle and accomplish them the right way. This allows you to focus on other important areas of your business as well as increase morale since your employees will know that you have confidence in them.

However, be careful with the tasks you delegate. As an entrepreneur, you should know which ones you should do and which ones you can assign to others. If you’re aiming to gain more growth for your new business, important tasks such as seeking opportunities or building partnerships are better off done by you since you know your business better than anyone else.

Proper time management is just one of the many things businesswomen must practice in order to be successful entrepreneurs. At Behind Closed Doors, we help women succeed in business and in their careers through networking, peer mentoring, and other valuable resources. We’re all about women helping each other achieve greater success in terms of professional and personal development. Find out more about how we can help you here.


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behind closed doors’ Sydney Luminaries Scholarship Awarded to Nutanix’s Jade Meara

Jade Mearabehind closed doors’ (BCD) coveted Sydney 2018 Luminaries Scholarship, providing a 12-month fully funded membership of professional and personal development, has been awarded to Jade Meara, Head of Marketing ANZ at Nutanix.

Announcing the results, BCD Founder and Managing Director, Donny Walford, said the scholarship is awarded to a successful woman seeking access to insights, knowledge, support and high level networks in their journey to Executive and Board positions.

“The only female on her organisations’ senior leadership team in ANZ, the scholarship will provide Jade an opportunity to tap into the acumen of other leading business women in Sydney to share ideas, take on new challenges and accept new opportunities. An advocate for diversifying the IT industry and promoting women in STEM careers, Jade was an ideal candidate to receive the scholarship.“

“I extend my congratulations to our winner, Jade Meara, as well as our worthy runners up, Dr Nicole Manktelow, Director Counseling Services at Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia and Cassandra Irvine, Director of Finance at Intact Group.” Ms Walford said.

Ms Meara has spent her entire career in technology marketing; she is looking forward to the fresh perspectives and ideas she will gain from participating in a peer-mentoring group made up of a diversified range of industries.

“As Head of Marketing, leading a team of young and ambitious marketers, I need to collaborate extensively with key stakeholders across the business. The skills, experience and advice I will gain from my BCD membership will be invaluable to my leadership journey.” Ms Meara said.

In accepting the award, Ms Meara acknowledged the Luminaries membership would enable her to not only progress personally but also give her the opportunity to be a part of inspiring others on the value of investing in development opportunities for females working in STEM industries.

The BCD Luminaries Scholarship offers businesswomen aspiring to executive roles the opportunity to further expand their leadership and management skills through a year-long membership to BCD Luminaries, valued at more than $5,500.

BCD Luminaries was created in response to an identified need for motivated businesswomen to have a professional sounding board and support network where they can discuss professional and personal issues, challenges and strategies in a totally confidential environment while, at the same time, encouraging each other to extend themselves to achieve and succeed in new environments.

Members meet for three hours, ten times a year, for group mentoring, professional development and networking with like-minded women. Outside of this further professional development, networking and mentorship opportunities are provided to members amongst the wider BCD community.

“One of its major aims,” concluded Ms Walford, “is to increase women’s representation on Boards, committees and in executive management roles and BCD has an enviable track record in successfully supporting our members to achieve these types of roles.”

BCD has awarded 12-month fully funded Luminaries memberships as scholarships annually in Adelaide for seven years. In 2018 Luminaries scholarships are offered also in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Issued by:

Penny Reidy, Marketing Manager, Behind Closed Doors on 8333 4303 or 0401 349 791 or penny@behindcloseddoors.com


Dealing With Stress in the Workplace

Stress in the workplaceWorkplace stress is not only detrimental to your productivity, it also affects your well-being and life outside of the office.

And it’s actually often worse for women. Women are more likely than men to admit to suffering from a high level of stress according to the APA, at 28% compared with 20%. Women also tend to experience more physical and emotional issues triggered by stress, such as headaches (44% compared with 15%) and being almost brought to tears (41% against 30%).

Famous businesswoman and author Arianna Huffington referred to 2013 via a LinkedIn post as “the year we prioritise beating stress.” That was five years ago, so it’s high time we start doing this. Stress stops both men and women from being able to reach their full potential, and it’s important to stop burying our heads in the sand and make an effort to deal with it. As such, below are several useful ways to help you get started in beating workplace stress.

Pinpoint the Origin

The first thing to do is understand what it is that triggers your stress. For example, when you find yourself undergoing feelings of anxiety, write down what you were doing preceding this. Keeping a log will help you narrow down what causes you the most stress and then you can start to deal with it in a more focused manner. Was it a certain colleague who triggered it? A badly worded critique? Or perhaps a task you find difficult? The more detail you add about the situation, the better you can approach overcoming your stressors, and be able to juggle your workload with more ease.

Talk to Your Superior

After writing your “stress log,” you might come up with workplace anxiety triggers that you can’t tackle alone. If this is the case, it might be time to bring your manager on board. Your manager is there to help if your situation involves having a conflict with a colleague or if you feel like you’re being expected to do too much. Calmly explain the problem and try to come up with the solutions together. It’s likely he or she will respect you for sharing the issues and being open rather than keeping it all to yourself and eventually burning out and/or needing time off work.

Open communication is key here. Your manager is not only there to supervise you but also help you cope with workplace issues that might affect your performance (which can also have a negative effect on the business as a whole). If your manager knows the situation, he or she will understand what you’re going through and might even help you deal with it by giving advice or, if things get worse, putting in place a few workplace changes to help you cope better.

Talk to Your Friends or Colleagues

If talking to management isn’t an option, or you feel like the stress is the result of you being a perfectionist rather than other external issues, chat to someone else, such as your friends or colleagues. Unloading your problems through communication often unloads some of the stress as well, so for your health and wellbeing, speak to someone you trust. You may wish to speak to a counsellor or psychologist.

Get Some Exercise

Exercising is an excellent way to cope with stress. However, women don’t tend to engage in physical activity as a way of dealing with stress like men do. According to the APA, 16% of men get active as a response to feeling overwhelmed, while only 4% of women do. Regular exercise will also help you sleep better, which can lead to feeling less stressed at work. Remember that stress impacts sleep, and vice-versa—a vicious cycle you don’t want to be in.

Stress can be viewed in mental and physical terms, and doing something to manage it better in both fronts is a more holistic way of dealing with stress. Also, exercise and getting enough sleep help refresh employees, and refreshed employees are more productive. If not being productive is your source of stress, then you’re basically a step closer to solving it just by exercising. Exercising can include walking or yoga or more strenuous exercise such as running and cycling.

Switch Off After Work and Take Breaks

For regular employees, you’re likely being paid to work eight or nine hours a day, so stop checking your emails after office hours. Enjoy being at home to create a calmer environment where you can truly relax. This will leave you more able to tackle your work the next day, as well as the stress that comes with it. You’ll also be a more productive employee as a result.

The same goes if you’re an entrepreneur—running a business doesn’t mean you have to work 24/7. Give yourself time to recover, relax, and de-stress outside of your business. Doing so not only recharges your body but could also give you a better perspective of your business, and how to deal with the stress-inducing issues that come with it. So, whether you’re an employee in a corporation or your own boss, make sure to maximise holidays and take a week’s at least every six months. Running your stressed self to the ground isn’t a healthy way to live life, and you’d want to be physically able to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Seek Help from the Experts

And by experts we mean women and men who’ve had successful careers despite being in stressful businesses, industries, and environments. Stress in the workplace is a reality of adult life, and these experienced business people know how to deal with it. They’ve “been there, done that” so listen to what they say.

This is why it’s certainly beneficial to join an organisation where women can help fellow women achieve greater heights. Behind Closed Doors is a leading network of business and career women which offers mentoring and networking aimed towards the professional development of women. Being a member and with the help of fellow members, you’ll have access to resources and interactions that will help you better deal with workplace issues such as stress, and enhance your capabilities and experience, letting you progress further in your chosen career path.


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KPMG’s Sarah Overton Awarded behind closed doors Luminaries Scholarship


Sarah OvertonSarah Overton, KPMG Australia’s Manager, National Competitive Intelligence, was last night announced the recipient of behind closed doors’ (BCD) coveted Melbourne Luminaries Scholarship.

Announcing the results at a networking event hosted by Russell Kennedy Lawyers Women’s Network, BCD Founder and Managing Director, Donny Walford, said the scholarship provides an opportunity for women executives of the future to share experiences and knowledge, develop networks and receive support.

“Sarah has had a varied career spanning early opportunities on Wall Street in her native USA through to her transition to study and settle in Australia. The 12-month fully funded behind closed doors Luminaries membership will enable Sarah to expand her Melbourne networks and continue both professional and personal development needed on her journey towards an Executive role.”

“I extend my congratulations to our winner, Sarah Overton, as well as our worthy runners up, Kelly Angel, Senior Research Officer at Birchip Cropping Group and Natalie Collins, Head of Special Projects at Media Access Australia.” Ms Walford said.

Ms Overton, who joined KPMG in 2016, and is actively involved with community service through Rotary International, said a scholarship would afford her a broader range of perspective and insight from women beyond her industry and existing networks.

“It is tremendously valuable to learn from peers – to understand how they have set goals, worked through challenges and pursued new directions.” Ms Overton said. “I am thrilled to be a part of a diverse group of ambitious and forward-looking women whose careers and styles are different from my own.”

The BCD Luminaries Scholarship offers businesswomen aspiring to executive roles the opportunity to further expand their leadership and management skills through a year-long membership to BCD Luminaries, valued at more than $5,500.

BCD Luminaries was created in response to an identified need for motivated businesswomen to have a professional sounding board and support network where they can discuss professional and personal issues, challenges and strategies in a totally confidential environment while, at the same time, encouraging each other to extend themselves to achieve and succeed in new environments.

Members meet for three hours, ten times a year, for group mentoring, professional development and networking with like-minded women. Outside of this further professional development, networking and mentorship opportunities are provided to members amongst the wider BCD community.

“The luminaries scholarship is not an award, but rather an opportunity for a business women looking to expand their networks, develop their career both through personal and professional development and to support others around them.” added Ms Walford. “Sarah’s aim to inspire her team and colleagues by sharing new ideas and encouraging curiosity positioned her as a fantastic recipient for this opportunity.”

BCD has awarded 12-month fully funded Luminaries memberships as scholarships annually for seven years; in 2018 Luminaries scholarships are offered in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.

Issued by:

Penny Reidy, Marketing Manager, Behind Closed Doors on 8333 4303 or 0401 349 791 or penny@behindcloseddoors.com


SA Police’s Sally Woolford Awarded behind closed doors Luminaries Scholarship


Sally WoolfordSouth Australian Police’s (SAPOL) Senior Project Manager for Project Equitas – a cultural change towards diversity, equity and inclusion – Sally Woolford, was last night announced the recipient of behind closed doors’ (BCD) coveted Luminaries Scholarship.

Announcing the results at a networking dinner, BCD Founder and Managing Director, Donny Walford, said the scholarship is awarded to a successful woman seeking access to insights, knowledge, support and high level networks in their journey to Executive and Board positions.

“Sally has been commended for her participation in a number of state public sector projects and will complete Project Equitas early next year. The 12-month fully funded behind closed doors Luminaries membership will arm Sally with both professional and personal tools needed to continue her journey towards an Executive role.”

“I extend my congratulations to our winner, Sally Woolford, as well as our worthy runners up, Froukje Jongsma, Collective Impact Leader at Together SA and Olwin Cole, Brand and Events Manager at Hood Sweeney.” Ms Walford said.

Mrs Woolford has had a varied career across government agencies and differing sectors, she is most looking forward to the opportunity to access a peer-mentoring group that can offer a differing perspective.

“The scholarship will enable SAPOL and I to have an opportunity to tap into a group of senior females who have different perspectives and who are from all walks of life. This will have enormous benefit to SA Police on the journey towards gender equality, diversity and inclusion.”

Luminaries Finalists 2018In accepting the award, Mrs Woolford said the Luminaries membership would enable her to not only progress personally but also give her the opportunity to be a part of inspiring others. Mrs Woolford applied and was awarded runner-up in the 2017 scholarship application process, her persistence paid dividends last night when awarded a full scholarship.

The BCD Luminaries Scholarship offers businesswomen aspiring to executive roles the opportunity to further expand their leadership and management skills through a year-long membership to BCD Luminaries, valued at more than $5,500.

BCD Luminaries was created in response to an identified need for motivated businesswomen to have a professional sounding board and support network where they can discuss professional and personal issues, challenges and strategies in a totally confidential environment while, at the same time, encouraging each other to extend themselves to achieve and succeed in new environments.

Members meet for three hours, ten times a year, for group mentoring, professional development and networking with like-minded women. Outside of this further professional development, networking and mentorship opportunities are provided to members amongst the wider BCD community.

“One of its major aims,” concluded Ms Walford, “is to increase women’s representation on Boards, committees and in executive management roles and BCD has an enviable track record in successfully supporting our members to achieve these types of roles.”

BCD has awarded 12-month fully funded Luminaries memberships as scholarships annually in Adelaide for seven years. In 2018 Luminaries scholarships are also offered in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth with results to be announced in coming weeks.

Issued by:

Penny Reidy, National Marketing Manager, Behind Closed Doors on 8333 4303 or 0401 349 791 or penny@behindcloseddoors.com


Why Women Need to Support Other Women’s Success

Celebrate SuccessBeing happy and supportive for other people’s success isn’t always easy. At times, it can be downright difficult, especially if you’ve been constantly experiencing what you term failure. However, as women, we should consider it as a rallying cry for what’s possible for women, especially in the corporate and business world. Finding encouragement and opportunity in the success of other women could be the message you need to further your own achievements. This matters because it is often through the example of others that we find our own purpose and path to success. Simply put, successful women pave the way for those who come after them.

As such, we need to support other women’s success. Not only will it spread good vibes and positivity, doing so might just be the kick of inspiration we need to forge our own journey towards success and progress.

Find Inspiration in the Work of Others

When you encounter other women in your field or discipline that have achieved much, you shouldn’t feel jealous or insecure. Rather, you should treat it as an opportunity to learn more, especially if she’s in the same field or business as you. The nuggets of wisdom they’ll share could prove useful in your own journey while their experiences could be the inspiration you need to continue working towards your goals and dreams.

Connect with these talented women and discover how they achieved business or professional success. By taking insights from their experiences, you could draw a clearer path of your own to success. Accomplished professional tennis player Serena Williams offers this sentiment on women inspiring each other saying, “The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up.”

Realise New Approaches to Collaboration and Communication

Rarely is success the work of one—it’s usually the work of many. Success is often built on mutual respect and the ability to work well with others for the best possible outcomes. This doesn’t happen naturally. Learn what you can from those who came before you and what collaboration and communication tactics they used.

Asking the right questions and soliciting advice from those who have achieved success will increase your knowledge in terms of how to communicate and collaborate effectively. Remember that, in your career or business, the way you communicate and deal with others is also important in building your reputation. Through their experiences, successful women will reveal key advice on effective communication techniques and collaboration.

Discover New Ways to Solve Old Problems

Success, no matter how you define it, revolves around one’s ability to solve problems. It takes ‘hard work’ and working smarter to deliver solutions. However, sometimes we find ourselves only going in circles, unable to solve problems despite effort, dedication, and perseverance.

Supporting, celebrating, and aligning yourself with successful women will help you find other ways to overcome the challenges you deal with. Be courageous and ask them for tips, especially if you’re slowly losing hope—what they’ll tell you could be the “lightbulb moment” you’ve been waiting for. In the workplace, you’ll most likely encounter disappointment such as a missed promotion or an unsuccessful sales pitch. It’s how you handle it that matters. Seeking counsel from a successful peer or mentor can be a great way to learn how to understand and deal with disappointment, seek solutions, and move forward. After all, they’ve “been there, done that.”

Empowerment and Unity

When women stand together and support each other’s success, we inspire one another and encourage ourselves to work better, smarter, and wiser with one another. We also grow more courageous and stronger—with each other’s support, no longer will we wilt fast under pressure and lose hope in the face of adversity, may it be at work, in business, or in society in general. With support from fellow women, we have inspiration, encouragement, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing. As the saying goes, “it’s always hard to fight alone.”

Women who foster harmony and support and develop relationships with each other also have a lot to gain. Women can learn so much from one another. Take it from renowned author, designer, and artist Gloria Vanderbilt who says “I always believed that one woman’s success can only help another women’s success.”

Remove the archaic thinking that women are unable to work together because of insecurity and jealousy towards each other. Truth be told, there is really no concrete data to support this. In fact, research reveals that in instances of women being hostile to one another in the workplace, it’s usually a result of company culture and how it pushes its employees to work longer and harder and not of their inability to collaborate and communicate or them having ill feelings towards each other. In the end, women can and need to work together and support each other—togetherness brings greater success than discord and disunity.

Foster Relationships with Successful Women

If you want to support and work with fellow business women, joining organisations which foster the professional development of women is a good start. Behind Closed Doors is an organisation helping women enhance and development themselves into successful professionals, businesswomen and leaders with help and encouragement from each other. We offer the necessary mentoring, opportunities and networking resources to help women achieve more than you believe possible, and encourage and inspire others in the process. Learn more about how behind closed doors can be an integral part of your professional and personal growth.


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Why Women Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Talk about Their Failures

Why women should not be afraid to talk about failuresTo achieve anything we risk experiencing failure. But as the old saying goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Failure can have consequences that reach far beyond your business life and can come to a crisis point, especially when personal capital has been invested.

But what at first feels like a disaster can be turned around. The most successful business and career women use failure and the essential life lessons they’ve learned to build success later on.

In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find those who haven’t experienced some kind of failure—and the vast majority will tell you that those experiences have improved their careers. As such, instead of hiding our experiences with failure in shame, it’s actually much better to share your experiences and mistakes and demonstrate how you have learned from them.

Risk and Reward

Learning curves in a business or professional setting can be very steep. Without the support and advice of others, it can be difficult to bounce back from what you consider failure. For example, new business ventures have a high risk ratio—according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 60-percent of small businesses close within just their first three years of operation.

The business world can be a place where success is sung from the rooftops yet the missteps and hardships that it took to get there are often ignored. But it’s healthy to swallow some pride and teach others what you’ve done, what you wouldn’t do again, and what you’ve learned. You’ll help others while also gaining insights from analysing your past mistakes.

The Reality of Failure

An informed discussion on failure can, perhaps strangely, lead to greater success. Businesswomen new to the workforce are far more likely to be inspired to try a venture if they understand the stories of others who have failed and later turned things around. These experiences prove that failure is not the end of the road, just the beginning of another. Opportunities come from mistakes and failures. In my opionion, failure is giving up.

Sara Blakely quotes a famous story from her childhood that gave her legendary willingness to embrace risk. The Spanx founder, named by Forbes as the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire in 2012, would be asked by her father what she had failed at each week, and if she didn’t have an answer he would be disappointed. Through this, she learned that, “failure is not the outcome, failure is not trying.”

Added Inspiration

The idea of failing puts many women off from pursuing a career, may it be as an owner operator/entrepreneur or a businesswoman of the corporate world. Falling short of your goals is often stigmatised and perceived as a bad thing. However, when women are given the guidance of experienced people, they are empowered to be bold and brave enough to pursue their goals, inspired by the lessons learned from those who have experienced both success and failure.

Melanie Perkins explains that she had far more disappointment than success in her early years starting her online design platform Canva. As the founder and chief executive of the company, which was recently valued at US$1 billion, she speaks about the need to see failure as part of the journey rather than the end. “It was three years between first pitching to an investor and actually landing investment,” she told the BBC. “This is an incredibly long period of time, and we had hundreds of rejections along the way.”

Increased Participation and Presence

The OECD notes that Australian women cite a fear of failing as a significant factor in explaining their lower participation in business, and specifically in becoming entrepreneurs. It highlights key issues such as, “risk of failure but also reflects other factors, such as social security safety nets, access to finance, access to child-care, and potential rewards.”

However, if we want to increase women’s participation and presence in the business world, we should adopt the thinking that failure is part of the process. If we share our experiences with failure and highlight the lessons learned and success gained after, more women won’t be afraid of failure and will be more confident in pursuing their dreams as entrepreneurs. Sharing our experiences also gives them a better idea of what to expect, preparing them for what lies ahead.

Share Your Experiences

You won’t find many books written about failure in business, but it’s a key part of success. Often, one doesn’t come without the other. Leanne Faulkner, founder of Billie Goat Soap and mental health advocate, told the Sydney Herald, “Be brave and tell your story honestly. I realised the best way I could help people was to get up and tell people and share my story. A lot of sole operators are already working alone and if you are struggling with your mental health that can be even more isolating.”

As such, sharing our experiences with failure not only gives women key insights and inspiration, doing so also encourages a sense of community. Open and honest communication tells us that we are not alone and can certainly rely on each other for guidance.

A Time for Reflection

Delving too much in our failure and keeping it to ourselves can be a real stumbling block—it can make moving on difficult. Sharing our experiences, on the other hand, can be cathartic. Explaining our failures to others gives us the chance to step back from the situation and reflect on the lessons we learned along the way. It also sets us straight and gives us the mindset to avoid the potential dangers of steaming ahead with another venture and risk making the same mistakes.

Sharing lessons, stories, and experiences about failure is best done in a community that encourages cooperative empowerment, mentoring, and communication. Behind Closed Doors is one such organisation—a pioneering national community of businesswomen that provides mentoring and a network of support for business and career women. We have the tools, resources, and the collective strength to help women grow in their chosen fields and achieve true professional development. Contact us today and understand how to become a member.


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How to Handle an Employee’s Resignation the Right Way 

How to handle employee resignationEmployee resignations are a regular occurrence in the workplace. In fact, the average person changes jobs 10 to 15 times during his or her career. As an entrepreneur and a leader, it’s always wise to know and have a process in place to properly handle employee resignations. This helps reduce or prevent any negative impacts resignations might have to your business and to your professional relationships with your colleagues and past and current employees. To help you out, we’ve come up with several key pieces of advice on dealing with employee resignations the right way.

Consider the Emotional Impact of Resignations 

Resignations can be emotional and hard on all parties. However, it’s important to never take it personally. Getting angry or feeling guilty will only make the situation worse. Some employees become very emotional and, as we all know, unchecked emotions can trigger conflict. If it happens in the case of a resigning employee, the effect could be anything from a professional misunderstanding to low morale in the workplace since the other employees will most likely be curious about how the situation was handled. You also risk burning bridges if you let your emotions take over, which is something you don’t want especially if the resigning employee did his or her tasks really well.

Dealing with employee turnover is part of being in business. Sometimes, even your best employees will leave, and many times it has nothing to do with you. If it’s time for them to move on and there’s nothing wrong with their reasons or intentions, be supportive and keep communication open. This could lead to future opportunities to work with that former employee in another situation that’s beneficial for your business. For example, he or she could get a new job at an organisation that either currently is or could be a potential customer.

Counter-offers Don’t Always Fix the Issue 

Managers sometimes give counter-offers to convince employees to not leave the company. However, take note that counter-offers may not fix the issue. Most of the time, they just offer an increase in salary or added benefits not found in the original employee contract. If an employee’s main issue is the compensation package and your business has the capacity to offer a bit more as justified by his or her performance, then don’t wait for them to resign before offering an increase in salary.

However, if the issue is not about the salary or benefits, a counter-offer won’t be the remedy. Sure, the employee might stay for a bit longer but, ultimately, you’ll just be masking the issue and he or she will still resign, probably more disappointed if you weren’t able to address the real issue. Be careful also of how you present a counter-offer; it won’t sit well with your employees if you always look at things from a monetary perspective and without recognising their true value beyond money.

Encourage the Four-week Notice 

Ask a resigning employee to work with the standard four-week notice. Some businesses immediately dismiss someone after a resignation request, which shouldn’t be the case. When that employee leaves, he or she does so with all their knowledge. Including a four-week notice or adjustment period allows for a smoother transition and helps ensure pending tasks are taken cared of (or at least delegated the right way).

The resigning employee may play a critical role in your business’ operations. With a four-week notice, you’ll have the time to delegate duties, and that employee can spend time with co-employees who will be covering for him or her in the meantime, for an effective handover. You can also ask the resigning employee to assist you or the people and culture in fine tuning the job description for his or her replacement.

Think of Resignation as a Fresh Start

Be open to the opportunities a resignation can bring. The resigning employee may have been a model worker, but maybe he or she was lacking innovation or initiative. Often, when someone is in a position for a long time, complacency can become an issue. Bringing in a fresh perspective through hiring a new employee with a different but still effective take on doing the needed tasks could be advantageous in terms of evolving the vacated job position and your business as a whole.

Reflect on How You Can Improve and Reduce Turnover Costs 

Review how you interact with and manage others. Look at turnover rates for your business or department. How do they compare to industry averages? An Australian Human Resource Institute survey found that in 2015, the average staff turnover rate was 16-percent. This is a good baseline to start with.

Employee turnover can be expensive, thanks to direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include payouts due to the leaving employee and recruitment costs. Indirect costs can involve lost productivity and training. Depending on the position and the resources needed to maximise it, you could end up with a very expensive resignation that could really cost your business if it’s not filled soon or if it’s frequently being vacated. This is especially important for SMEs since they usually have smaller budgets and less resources to handle frequent resignations.

Research on ways to reduce this attrition by changing some of your approaches or policies to increase employee retention. These costs can also be minimised by having that employee work out his or her four-weeks’ notice so that the rest of your team is prepared to complete tasks or effect handover to the new employee. Take these situations as a means to learn as a businesswoman and to improve your business to become one which truly values workplace satisfaction.

Let Others Know Sooner Rather Than Later 

Once your employee submits his or her notice, you have to communicate that effectively to all those who will be impacted by the move. Be transparent in your communication. Call a quick meeting with all those who need to know and lay out a plan for transition. Be positive in sending off the employee. Handling things in this manner shows your confidence and professionalism, and other employees will appreciate this as well, knowing that you reacted and handled the situation in a constructive fashion.

Develop a Resignation Checklist 

It’s a great idea to have a resignation plan in place when employees leave. This could be a checklist of all the things that need to occur and the items you should have to ensure proper communication and transition. The checklist could include things such as returning company property, transitioning the current work load, handling benefits, and conducting an exit interview.

Established companies usually have this checklist supplied people and culture. For new businesses and SMEs, it’s important to have it to reduce disruption of daily operations which will result in losses—something that smaller companies should proactively avoid to ensure sustainability.

Being able to properly handle employee resignations is a characteristic of an effective leader. However, with the different attitudes and factors involved, it could prove tricky without proper guidance and experience. At Behind Closed Doors, we drive the professional development of women through networking, peer mentorship, and other tools and resources. As a leading network of businesswomen, we can guide you in your business and professional career and prepare you for any eventualities, paving a clearer path towards success.


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Building Connections: Knowing Who to (and Not to) Pursue

Building ConnectionsBuilding connections is important regardless of your industry, position, or tenure. Simply put, it’s hard to get anywhere in life without the help of others. Going at it alone can only do so much; you’ll still have to rely on external help and guidance at some point if you really want to succeed and exceed your expectations on yourself.

This is especially true in your business or professional career. As such, it’s highly important to look at the significance of connections and knowing who you should pursue (and avoid) in building them.

Why Connect?

In a nutshell, connections provide opportunities to learn, grow, and become a more accomplished person, as well as a chance to give back to others and your community. These connections lead to additional beneficial relationships, fuelling your growth as a business person or professional. However, please remember that, when seeking connections, your mindset shouldn’t be one that’s just about financial gain. Growing your financial capability and making that your sole purpose will lead to negatives such as unrealistic expectations and shallow, unauthentic connections that may bring more harm than good.

Connection Advice

Not everyone is an extrovert and comfortable in networking and approaching strangers. There are many ways to connect and channels you can use, even if you’re shy and uncomfortable with networking.

For example, you can employ the power of social media networks like LinkedIn which has 4.2 million active Australian users. Being active on LinkedIn will raise your profile and help get you noticed. Offline, you could try getting involved in work, community, or industry groups where there’s a good chance you’ll meet interesting, like-minded individuals who not only share your values but also could offer guidance in your own career. As a businesswoman you can also choose to attend female-only networking events if you feel more comfortable interacting with fellow women and in a space that nurtures collaboration. Find something that works with your schedule, and try coming up with your own communication strategy, such as having your own elevator pitch. You also need to have an objective that you want to achieve when attending each event such as to gain a meaningful connection or business opportunity.

Which Connections Matter?

Finding people you want to connect with is much easier than thinking about who to avoid. Start by connecting with people who interest you and represent the values you want to embody. Australian entrepreneur and brand ambassador Jennifer Hawkins said, “Loyalty, kindness and compassion are very important in friendship and business partnerships. I like to think I have those qualities, too.” When you decide you want to hear what people say and their story, you’ll have a much more genuine connection. Experience is also an important factor. When someone has accomplished or experienced much, they have a great story to tell. You’ll appreciate and even learn from what they have to say.

Who to Welcome

Knowing who you should connect with comes down to your goals not only for your business or profession but also for yourself. For example, connecting with recruiters (head hunters) makes sense if you are seeking career opportunities, while meeting key industry stakeholders and personalities is beneficial if you’re trying to learn the ins and outs of your industry. Thus, your connection strategy may change depending on what you want to achieve. Whatever it is that you need help with, focus on how a potential connection can help you meet your goal. This helps keep you organised in your interactions as well.

At the core of any strategy is, of course, a common denominator you share with the persons you want to build a connection with. You’ve only got so much time and attention to give so pursue connections proactively but efficiently.

Find people who not only have the same values as you, but also encourage you to improve and extend yourself. You could also surround yourself with different kinds of people who share the same values to give you an idea of how to interact and speak with individuals with different personalities. Diversity in connections is important since, as you go along in your career, you’ll have to deal with all sorts of people on your way to success.

Knowledge in a particular field you want to excel in is also another factor you should consider. People who have knowledge and experience know what it takes to succeed in their own industry and, if you connect with them, you could be the recipient of invaluable knowledge that will give you a competitive edge compared to others who ignore the value of connections. This is why industry experts, speakers, and recognised alumni are sought after, and having them in your circles gives your own profile added credence.

Ultimately, the best connections are those that are mutually beneficial. For instance, a writer may provide a guest post on another company’s blog through a connection. The writer gets more name recognition and the company gets quality content. You could also trade expertise with a connection, enhancing both parties’ skills in the process. The important thing is that it shouldn’t be one-sided.

Who not to Pursue

On the other side of the spectrum, you should also know who you should not pursue. This is not to say you dislike them but, in the long run, there are connections that won’t give you any value and could even lead to poor relationships and you being taken advantage of. Watch out for red flags, such as negativity. People who are very negative and talk bad of others shouldn’t be pursued as they can demotivate you and affect how you interact with others. You don’t need that kind of toxic energy in your life. Red flags include if you get the sense a person isn’t being truthful. Honesty, in your career, business, or personal life, should be top priority. Trust your gut feel.

Stay clear of those who don’t support your own success. Remember, everyone’s in their own pursuit of happiness and success; you don’t need to feel guilty about achieving it, and you don’t have to explain yourself. Also, these people bring little in terms of encouragement, which is something we all need at different times.

Reputation matters so be protective of yours. If there’s anyone in your network, group, or business who clearly has a questionable reputation and an attitude to match it, it’s probably good to not associate yourself with them. Think things through first since connecting with someone with little or no integrity may reflect poorly on you, affecting your business or professional life.

Last but not the least, be wary of “fake personalities”. As previously mentioned, honesty is important. They may act positively in front of you but, in the background, spread rumours for their own personal gain, affecting your own growth and how others perceive you, which is important since we are our own brands.

Where to Start

There’s much to learn about being connected, and much to be said about its importance. Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, has this to say, “Leaders need to find that place of wisdom, strength, and real connection (with themselves and others) and they need to lead from that place. Only from that place they can truly create miracles and change the world.” As with many things in life, building the right connections takes practice and patience but, as long as you have the right motivation, values and mindset, there’s every reason you will be successful.

Want to get started on finding the right connections? We at Behind Closed Doors nurture and cultivate the kind of environment business and career women need to find and build connections for true business and professional development. We value working together and have the mentorship, networking, and resources to extend women further to ensure their continued success.


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Be Heard: Why Speaking Up and Building Relationships Matter

Be HeardYour voice matters. As a business woman, you may sometimes hesitate to make a name for yourself or proclaim what you can do. You may feel like you need to hold back or keep your ideas to yourself to avoid offending anyone.

But what you have to say is important. In fact, it is valuable. Putting yourself forward and building relationships is empowering. Not only will you empower yourself, you’ll empower those around you. Opportunities for professional, business, and personal growth occur as a result of these relationships. Here we’ll talk about the benefits of being heard and the value of building connections.

What Does “Being Heard” Mean?

In simplest terms, it means speaking up. This could be in the boardroom, around an executive table, at a networking event or just in everyday conversations. Having a “seat at the table” offers you the chance to tell your story, your experiences, share knowledge and your expertise. Think about how you can contribute to every situation you find yourself in on a daily basis.

You have the right to be heard. Take opportunities to connect with others who embody the qualities you find ideal. These connections will help you grow as a person and progress in your business or career. Giving and earning the respect of others will also enhance your emotional intelligence—something that’s needed if you want to build strong connections with more people.

Why Speaking Up Matters

Having a plan to expand your network makes for success in business, and part of it should be you aiming to be heard. In a general sense, not being afraid to speak up and be heard makes your presence known to more people. This is important because, if you want to build more connections, other people should know first that you exist, that you are a woman of substance, and that they need to take you seriously.

Being heard also gives the impression that you are confident in your own abilities and in who you are. This is another trait successful businesswomen share. Without confidence, you will hesitate in facing new challenges, talking to more people, and exploring opportunities. By speaking up, you’ll let others know that you are confident, and those willing to pursue new business or professional connections will find this more appealing than talking to someone who seems to be too afraid to take risks.

Speaking up and being heard also broadcasts what you can do, what you’ve gone through, and what you believe in. While there’s a risk that some won’t agree with what you say, there will also be those who share your views and values. This opens up possible opportunities such as business partnerships, joint ventures, or events and engagements (e.g. public speaking opportunities) that will bring valuable business or professional experience.

Last but not the least, you being heard is also a chance for other women to be heard as well. Confidence is contagious and you speaking up and sharing your opinions and success stories will inspire other women to follow in your footsteps and shed the veil of anonymity. Like you, they’ll develop the needed poise to interact with more people and the confidence to take on challenges on their way to achieving their own success.

There are certain events and interactions that are conducive to women who want to be heard and build meaningful professional or business relationships, such as the ones below.

Networking Events

Networking is one way to build both professional and business connections. Through networking events, you’ll meet a variety of people, from those who are just starting out to experts who have made it in their fields. It is also a way to know more people who share what you stand for, what you believe in, and your own business or career values. However, there’s no sense to be too timid or anonymous in a networking event—chances are, no one will approach you if you don’t speak up or make any effort to let others know you.

If you’re new to networking, you can opt for women-only networking events. This type of networking provides a more comfortable space where women can talk more freely and share experiences. Women sometimes have the tendency to not ask for advice even when amongst peers. In a women-only networking event, you’ll feel less self-conscious about speaking up or asking for tips.


Being a mentor in a mentoring relationship is rewarding. Mentoring fellow women, in corporate programs, or through professional associations can greatly impact other women who aspire to have leadership roles. Through mentorship, you can encourage others to be more confident in their abilities and empower them to face challenges and progress in their respective fields. Your voice has the ability to empower those around you and, in return, they’ll feel grateful and hold you in high regard.

Mentorship extends beyond the workplace. Being a part of your community or through volunteer activities, you can meet other women who have similar interests as you. If you are a mentee and need advice on becoming a mentor, the connections you form within your community will help you build your self-esteem and get to know more people at a deeper level which is important if you want to be a successful mentor.

Social Media

You don’t have to be physically present to speak up and be heard. You can go online and reach even more people through your digital voice.

For example, how often do you use LinkedIn to get advice, pitch an idea, engage in a business or professional conversation, or write a post? It’s not just a portal to showcase your resume; it’s one of the fastest-growing social media networks. It’s also a place to build and nurture relationships through constant communication, and women can have a strong presence on this platform.

Naomi Simson, CEO of online gifts and experiences retailer Red Balloon and a LinkedIn influencer, has over 2.5 million followers and has used the platform as a way to build her personal brand, her company, and relationships with other women. She is an avid poster on the site offering her wisdom. Naomi said of gaining success on social media, “Posting consistently, writing the way you speak and offering original ideas are the best ways to build a major following on social media and garner influence as a thought leader.” This is an example of how being heard and having a voice, may it be online or offline, can positively affect your business or career growth.

It’s Hard to Get Anywhere on Your Own

Speaking up, being engaged, and being involved in person or online is a must for success. It’s hard to get anywhere in your business, career, and, most importantly, in life without a support system or external relationships. You can’t be always silent; you can’t be a wallflower if you want to be in the conversation. Fashion legend Anna Wintour, once said, “In today’s world, you have to interact. You have to present yourself. You have to know how to talk about your vision, your focus, and what you believe in.”

If you need advice, empowerment, and guidance to help you speak up and be heard and in building positive relationships, it’s wise to seek the help of the right people you can learn from and share ideas with. At Behind Closed Doors, our focus is on helping women achieve business and professional growth through networking, mentorship, and having an environment where women can help each other achieve their goals, objectives and dreams. Learn more about how Behind Closed Doors can help point you on the path to success by watching the stories of some of our members.


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The Art of Negotiating: How Women Can Be Better At It

The Art of NegotiationMany women miss opportunities from negotiations for the simple reason that it can put them so far outside of their comfort zone that they panic. Yet, negotiating is an essential skill that is certain to boost your business, career, and self-worth. And make no mistake about it: not taking the art of negotiating seriously could hamper your progress.

Whether you manage your own business and need to get a good deal on a partnership or contract, an Executive that needs to negotiate business deals, are psyching yourself up to ask your boss for a salary raise, or need to deal with conflict at work without backing down, being better at negotiating is key, and below are several ways to do just that.

Negotiate from a Position of Power and Influence

Men are traditionally known to be more forward than their female counterparts when it comes to negotiations, as their traditionally assertive role in society means they generally aren’t afraid to ask for what they want and they enjoy the interaction. Women, in contrast, often lack this skill as they are generally not confident and feel uncomfortable, which may mean letting the other person get their own way in deals.

When professor and author Linda Babcock was researching for her book Women Don’t Ask, she found that there was a 7.6% difference between the salaries female MBAs were getting compared to those of male MBAs. During her research, Babcock also discovered that approximately 7% of women tried to negotiate initial salary offers compared to 57% of men. This tells us two key things: that negotiating is crucial for getting a better deal, and you won’t get it unless you try. As such, having the confidence and will to negotiate is an important first step in this regard.

Prepare Notes Beforehand

Go into negotiations knowing exactly what you want, including your baseline on what you are willing to accept. It’s not enough to have an outcome in mind—you need to detail that outcome and write it down, along with clear steps towards your aims. This will help you show the other party (or parties) that you have thought things through, have really studied your options, and have strong reasons to support your case. Sometimes, half the challenge of convincing others is convincing yourself first!

Preparing notes beforehand also lets you avoid getting confused and guides you when it comes to what you need to say and when to say it. Doing so gives you a chance to outline what you would be willing to settle for as well, should you need to compromise during negotiations. We recommend you know your position, tactics and outcomes and enter into negotiations without notes.

Be Clear About What You Need

Accomplished Australian businesswoman Geraldine Buckingham, global head of corporate strategy for BlackRock, explains that you should be explicit about what you need whenever negotiating. She says she used to try to slip what she wanted into talks instead of being absolutely direct, which often led to miscommunication and didn’t always bring her the result she desired. Now, she advises that women state their outcomes in a concise way so a clear conversation can be had, resulting in less confusion and miscommunication between the parties involved.

Be Mindful of Your Body Language

As well as having confidence and using clear language, it also helps to pay attention to your movements while negotiating, even the most subtle ones. If you squirm and look uncomfortable, you’ll look less convincing and the person you’re talking to will know they have the upper hand no matter which words come out of your mouth.

There are plenty of guides on improving your body language, and some of the basic principles which can be applied to negotiations include:

  • Make eye contact. This gives you a more confident and genuine aura and helps build positive rapport with the person you’re negotiating with.
  • Practice your handshake so it’s firm but not too strong. This conveys a sense of self-assurance on your part as well as confidence.
  • Ensure you seem like you’re actively listening to the other person. Not only is it polite, it will make them feel more comfortable. This means you can have a genuine conversation with them and that they’ll possibly be more open to what you’re proposing.

Positive Interactions

There’s a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. Don’t relentlessly pursue your outcome if you keep hearing “no.” Keep your interactions as positive as possible. Ensure you are willing to compromise, and keep conversations to convince the other person to give you another meeting in the future. Ask what you can do to keep negotiations alive and tell them that you will be pursuing the aims they outline in the meantime.

Remember, a negotiation doesn’t ensure that your demands will be met. Leaving a positive impression on the other party is important as is building relationships, as it helps ensure that they’ll be open to future negotiations with you. However, coming off too strong or aggressive will result in the opposite, effectively closing the doors on future negotiations with a specific party.

Negotiating, when done correctly, can help you progress faster, close business deeds, resolve issues and conflict situations better, or even be a great leader and communicator. If you want key advice on how to be better at negotiations, we recommend joining organisations aimed at the professional development of women. At Behind Closed Doors, we help career and businesswomen improve their skills through networking, mentorship, and other resources, enabling them to progress further, reach greater heights, and take their careers and businesses to the next level.


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