IWF Australia 2018 Annual Report

What does membership mean?

“…belonging to a trusted and supportive professional sisterhood. I connect with women of difference who motivate and inspire me. IWF is a place where I can respectfully hide but safely be brought back to reality by the energy of women from all walks. My commitment is to generously and kindly reciprocate to others and the organisation locally and globally to drive meaningful leadership in this rapidly changing world.”

IWFA Member


Our Values

We are diverse, open and real.

We build trust and nurture a safe and caring environment.

We are determined to make a difference for each other and the next generation of women leaders.


Our purpose…

We thrive on sharing leadership stories, life experience and ideas to nurture our community. We are confident in reaching out to the membership to draw inspiration for our own personal journeys. We create opportunities for women leaders of the future to tap into the knowledge and the support of the IWFA collective. We leverage and contribute to the global IWF network to promote better leadership for a changing world.


President’s message - kate mason

Hello wonderful IWFA Sistas,

Let me start by saying how incredibly proud I am to work with the IWF Australia board and to have represented our membership through an incredible 2018. I am very excited to congratulate our new board members Bronwyn Klei, Maria MacNamara and Maxine Morand and extend my heartfelt thanks to our retiring board directors Cathy Doyle and Chris Gillies.

The highlight of the year was, of course, the Melbourne Conference. A huge thank you to co-chairs Karen Hayes and Michelle Loader and the committee for exceeding all expectations. Our key priority moving into 2018 was to create an event that showcased the warmth of the IWF Australia ‘sistahood’ and the powerful women leaders of our dynamic region. With nearly 500 incredible women travelling to Melbourne, including 90 of our own members, what a truly outstanding event it was! At the recent global conference in Miami, Australian delegates were still being inundated with glowing compliments regarding our warm welcome, our cutting edge content and our embodiment of a caring and courageous sistahood. Well done.

Further priorities for 2018 were set out to include increasing the diversity of our membership across professional, cultural, generational and geographical targets. I am very excited to say that thanks to outgoing director Cathy Doyle and incoming membership lead Maria MacNamara, our standard of membership continues to retain a very high bar professionally, with additional rigorous consideration taking into account the cognitive diversity and community-mindedness inherent in each candidate.

Reflecting our targets at the 2017 AGM, our membership engagement levels across both events and communications, continues to sit high on the scale, with 91% of you actively coming together across events, social media and workplace throughout the year to nurture and support each other. For this I thank the state chairs and Nikki May, and look forward to the added strategy brought to events planning by incoming director Bronwyn Klei. With financial planning in a healthy position, thanks to Treasurer Catherine Curry-Hyde, and governance emphasising a long-term view to succession planning, credit to our Secretary Rachel Scanlon, I feel we are truly setting IWF Australia up for a sustainable future.

At the IWFA Board Strategy Weekend in Hobart, we sat with our stated values and purpose and together agreed that our founding values and intent have stood the test of time. We continue to Connect as Women, Grow as Leaders and Shape the Next Generation of Women Leaders as promised. In a thorough review of our 2017 goals, as represented in my post-AGM President’s report, we found that our priorities have been actively pursued by the respective directors and continue to propel us toward exciting years ahead.

At the recent Presidents’ Council in Miami, there were a couple of key agenda items that we considered as Presidents:

1.    Communication and developments from a global perspective. I was thrilled to be asked to present our points of difference on communication to the Presidents. The terrific news for 2019 is that we will have a new global website where all Forums will be connected under the Global IWF Framework. What I am particularly excited about is an optimised member login section that makes it easier to connect with international ‘sistas’ when travelling.

2.    By-laws/Constitution which exist as guide rails, to protect and clarify the way we work and drive transparency, consistency and predictability. These were discussed in terms of our ongoing sustainability as a global organisation. We also spent time aligning on board composition, term limits, president standards and succession.

3.    Accountability to global standards of membership, ensuring that each President is committed to holding their chapter to these standards. A clear agreement was to continue to ensure that diversity is our strength.

Finally, I wish to thank each of you, our members, for all that you do to make IWFA a unique and special place. A platform on which we can stand together as diverse and exceptional women leaders, and take on the world.

My warmest wishes,

Kate Mason


Vice President / conference co-chair update - michelle loader

What an incredible year it has been.

From evolution to revolution - In four years we have come so far as an organisation, with the Global Cornerstone Conference held in Melbourne in May, putting Australia well and truly on the IWF map. With outstanding speakers, extraordinary Welcome and Gala events, exceptional behind-the-scenes adventures and unforgettable dine-arounds... it was the genuine sense of warmth our international guests found to be the real IWF Revolution when they visited in May this year.

Belonging - Kate calls it our 'sistahood', Helen summarises it as 'when an IWF member rings, you take the call', Sarah Court notes 'somewhere between colleagues and family - IWF are women who just get you'. However we describe this sense of belonging, we managed to extend it across the globe to all IWF members. And that is something to be very proud of. Next time you travel, be sure to reach out through the network and connect with these women. IWF Australia has earned a special place in the hearts of so many.

Thank You Conference Committee - we conjured, created and collaborated seamlessly to make the membership proud. Heartfelt thanks to Chris Gillies, Sue Renkin, Tracey Habron, Sue English, Mary Lemonis, Nikki May, Kate Roffey, Lisa Barron, Catherine Curry-Hyde and, of course, to my fabulous co-chair Karen Hayes for the tireless hours worked and the constant will to raise the bar. May Washington never forgive us.

Australian Members - a big thank you also to all the members across Australia who travelled to the conference. What a turn out! And a special acknowledgement to the wonderful shoulder events that were held throughout the country, enabling our global travellers to feel the warmth of the Forum wherever they went.


membership update - Maria MacNamara

During 2018 we have increased our membership to 139 members.  Our aim is to foster a dynamic sistahood of women leaders. One that allows each of us to connect as women, grow as leaders and grow the next generation of women leaders.  Our goal is to enable members to receive the same care and attention as leaders we extend to members of the organisations we lead.  

Membership retention/engagement – thanks to the efforts of our engaged state council chairwomen, we have retained a 95% member retention rate. This year we have run 50 different events across our states.

Membership Diversity: Our women leaders are drawn from a wide variety of industry sectors. This year, we were thrilled to welcome our first astronaut - South Australian Pamela Melroy! We are committed to building a membership that is welcoming and diverse drawn from all sectors of Australia's economy and society. An analysis of our membership has allowed us to identify an opportunity to welcome members from Indigenous Australia, STEM (including founders of startups and scale ups), defence and aerospace, the arts and social sciences (including philosophers, linguists, anthropologists) and senior public servants. We will also be working with Advance.org to welcome home members of the Australian diaspora who have been working globally and are again making Australia home. Of course each candidate will meet all elements of our membership criteria. 

Member Centricity. You, as our fabulous members, are the heart of IWFA and we, as a Board, are focused on making the membership experience the best it can be. We believe that the true value proposition of membership is something that can only be felt to be understood. In practical terms, we will be refreshing our nomination and on-boarding process, updating our member information portal, telling the stories of IWF both locally and globally and sharing the personal journey and aspirations of our members. We will continue to share insights that ensure as leaders we are well informed, well connected and well engaged. 

IWFA is looking for a woman of influence, a leader who excels in her field, who is driven to make a difference and who represents the vibrancy of her community. We seek a woman who is open, real and kind, who lifts as she climbs, and who adds to the diversity of our collective.

Events Update

We have seen 49 local events held throughout 2018 in addition to the Global Conference. With an average attendance rate of 13 members per event, we are thrilled to report nearly 650 IWFA experiences have been enjoyed by members though the year. The annual program of events is curated by the state chairs is structured around the following pillars:

  1. Connect as Women - enabled by intimate dine arounds and cocktail events designed with conversation and deeper connections in mind

  2. Grow as Leaders - facilitated by thought-leadership breakfast events this year covering topics such as corporate digital strategy, startup community engagement, diversity and inclusion insights, and ethical adoption of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

  3. Shape the Next Generation - captured in well-attended mentee events across the states featuring panels and speakers and integrating time for Q&A and networking

IWFA Event Update.jpg
IWFA Secretary Rachel Scanlon (right) with members Narelle Hooper and Christie Slade

IWFA Secretary Rachel Scanlon (right) with members Narelle Hooper and Christie Slade

Governance update - rachel scanlon

Sustainability and succession planning. This is a high priority topic for the Board and the Nominations Committee. Over the next two years we have all remaining Founding Board Directors transitioning out. We have been initiating these as per the successful transition of the Membership Director role from Cathy Doyle to Maria MacNamara via a supported six month handover period. We will follow this model for the Treasurer and Communications roles throughout 2019. To ensure the sustainability of the Board and chapter (and to align with the many global chapters who have a President Elect, President and past President on the Board), we would like to identify the new President and agree this at the Adelaide Symposium. We extend an invitation to our membership to consider joining what we is a know as a fun, dynamic and supportive Board in any of these roles. Please reach out to your state chair or to Kate Mason with expressions of interest. Board Directors are elected for an initial two-years and can be reappointed up to a maximum of six years in the role.

In addition, during 2018, the Board undertook a risk management exercise and put in place a risk management framework for IWFA to monitor and ensure the sustainability of the Australian forum.

Inaugural IWF Australia Symposium

Incoming events director, Bronwyn Klei, circulated a questionnaire to members in November to better understand the types of events members have found most rewarding. Responding to the outcomes of the survey, containing requests from across our membership, we are tremendously excited to hold the inaugural IWFA Symposium on May 3-4, 2019 in South Australia. The event is about coming together as one sistahood to connect and grow. Hopefully you have already marked these dates in your diaries and responded to the recent attendance survey we have sent out this week. Watch this space!

IWFA Christmas Cocktails hosted by Amanda Rischbieth, Adelaide

IWFA Christmas Cocktails hosted by Amanda Rischbieth, Adelaide

IWFA Christmas Cocktails hosted by Eileen Henderson, Sydney

IWFA Christmas Cocktails hosted by Eileen Henderson, Sydney

NSW update - lisa grinham

In 2018, the NSW State Council focused on creating experiences that brought our sistas together for shared learning, support and great conversation. Delivering 18 events in Sydney with more than 200 members in attendance, it was a hectic year. More than 90 per cent of members attended at least one event, and a staggering 50 per cent attended four or more, which for super-busy women is impressive.

From our treasured Dine Arounds to challenging discussions around what the impact of the Future of Work might be on all of us, we listened, we questioned, and we learnt. We heard about new technologies, and we engaged with dynamic young women who are our next generation of leaders.

 There were the informal Supper Club catch ups, and the relaxing drinks gatherings. We welcomed more than a dozen inter-staters and connected with around 15 IWF members internationally.

Our membership base held fairly steady in 2018. We lost of few members as they moved overseas for exciting opportunities, and we welcomed four new members bringing NSW/ACT’s membership to 41.

2019 will see growth in the number of NSW/ACT members – we have an array of accomplished, yet humble women leaders we can’t wait to introduce you to. Of course, we’ll deliver a breadth of events that ensure we continue to grow as leaders, connect as women, and grow the next generation of leaders.

A huge thanks to the NSW State Council members – Eileen Henderson, Maria MacNamara and Dimity Hodge – all busy women brimming with ideas who can also roll their sleeves up and do the doing. Thanks also to the generosity of the sistas who hosted events, shared their knowledge and nominated new members.

Board members Rachel Scanlon and Sarah Court

Board members Rachel Scanlon and Sarah Court

South Australia update - sarah court

2018 has been a terrific year of IWFA in Adelaide, with a focus on well attended meaningful local events and slow and deliberate member growth. We kicked off the year with a member led Big Bash cricket event at the beautiful Adelaide Oval in January, which has become a special annual tradition, and finished the year in December with a wonderful dine-around generously and warmly hosted by Amanda Rischbieth. In between we have had mentee events, dine-arounds, breakfasts, a 'wine-around', a member-led event at the Sticky Rice cooking school, and much more. All the events have been characterised by generous and warm hosts, good attendance and authentic engagement, and have left us inspired and energised by the connections made and stories told.

We were also delighted to see one of our own, the terrific Bronny Klei, appointed to the Board this year. In 2019 we will formalise a SA State Council, continue to grow our membership numbers, and of course, we are all looking forward to welcoming you all to the inaugural symposium in Adelaide in 2019!


Welcome Victorian State Chair

Maxine Morand

Hello everyone, I am the new state chair for Victoria.  I have been an IWFA member since the Australian chapter commenced and have become more active in the last year or so, including attending the conference in Houston, the Melbourne conference and Melbourne events.  I have met some really fantastic women over the past 12 months in a huge diversity of roles.  I think that is what makes IWF so special as we all come from different industries and different roles within those places.  My background was in health before I became an MP and Cabinet Minister.

I now teach health policy to Masters Students at Monash University and Chair Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. I really look forward to getting to know you all better over the next year.

I would like to thank the fabulous Chris Gillies for overseeing a great program of events this year in Melbourne with interesting speakers at breakfast events, drop in drinks and of course dine arounds.  Thanks to the Victorian Council members and all who hosted and attended these events and made them such a success.

Member Tracey Habron and Communications Director Nikki May

Member Tracey Habron and Communications Director Nikki May

communications update - nikki may

This year, our global interaction and influence throughout the IWF community has grown. Our own successful adoption of the internal social platform @workplace, represents a first among IWF chapters, reflecting our emphasis on connecting as women in a more real, open and trusting way. Currently, we have 95% of our members active on workplace with a weekly engagement rate of 76%. We have trialed live-streaming breakfast events and the AGM throughout 2018 with the result adding 25% member engagements to each event. We continue to encourage members to post their own achievements, challenges and questions and foster a culture of connection in this private, conversational space.

We were proud to be asked to present our communications strategy at the Global Presidents’ Council in Miami. Kate reported that it was ‘so heart-warming to hear more and more chapters talking about the “sistahood”, about IWF being “more about the Net than the Work” and building on the values we embrace here in Australia’.

While one of our board level mandates has been to move away from email newsletters, we have reviewed the continual high engagement and demand for monthly mail-outs. A decision has been made to integrate (rather than replace) e-newsletters with the @workplace platform and our website more closely in the future. The website has been upgraded this year in preparation for the global attention gained by hosting the conference, and shall undergo a further upgrade in line with global changes during 2019.

We have begun to build our external brand strategy in order to advocate more strongly for our members. We are working with the global communications board to charter this territory and look forward to further establishing our presence in the Australian sphere on leadership issues. Twitter remains the primary external platform on which we celebrate the success of our members both locally and globally and engage in discussions relevant to our cause of furthering the advancement of womens’ leadership. We will supporting IWF global to build a presence on LinkedIn throughout the coming year.

Thanks to everyone who posts, likes, shares and comments. You warm my heart and many others with your contributions.


Member Nicky Buckley with Treasurer Catherine Curry-Hyde

Member Nicky Buckley with Treasurer Catherine Curry-Hyde

 Please find the IWF Australia Limited Special Purpose Financial Report available for reading here.

 Thank you to our founding Treasurer Catherine Curry-Hyde for preparing this report and for maintaining our finances since the establishment of IWF Australia.


Thank you for a wonderful year

We look forward to a fabulous 2019 with you all.