Five women in power share the best career advice they ever received


Australia’s female leaders are not simply adapting to a changed world; they are actively designing a better future for us all. 
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 22: Guests attend the Forbes Australia Women’s Summit at ICC Sydney on March 22, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. Forbes Australia Women’s Summit, presented by NAB Private Wealth. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for Forbes Australia)

Dedicated to unlocking new thinking and translating ideas into impact, the 2024 Forbes Australia Women’s Summit, presented by NAB Private Wealth, will bring together barrier-breaking women across industries and generations, who are rising to the occasion to define our next chapter of progress and beyond.

Below, five women who will speak at the Women’s Summit on 26 March in Sydney share the best piece of career advice they ever received.

Olympia Yarger, founder and CEO, Goterra

My most favourite piece of advice came from the former CEO of Bega Cheese, Barry Irvin. He said, “Even your worst enemy will help you with your problems. If only to show you how much you don’t know.”

It’s been such a useful reminder to stay curious throughout this journey and ask questions no matter what. It’s played true the whole time and those dissenters have been the most valuable people in providing feedback and insights.

Sally Auld, chief investment officer, JBWere

The most powerful piece of advice I have received can be thought of simply as Q&A. By this I mean two things: first, always ask the question. If you want something, just ask. The worst that can happen is someone says no, and in my experience, they are most likely to say yes! The second relates to the answer you should give when someone offers you a bigger role, stretch project or promotion. Say yes! Always remember that they wouldn’t ask you if they didn’t believe you to be capable. Your inner voice will list many reasons why shouldn’t take the opportunity – but in my experience, it is rare that you ever regret taking these opportunities with both hands.

Stephanie Miller (Née Smith), co-founder, Kic

Trust my gut. As a founder, it is so important to stay deeply in tune with your intuition. My business partner Laura and I have made some big business decisions where we’ve ignored our gut feeling and instead listened to someone around us with more experience, and it hasn’t worked in our favour. We know our brand, our mission and our community more than anyone, and we’ve learnt the importance of backing ourselves. We now have a senior advisory board, who has our best interests in mind. They’re incredibly valuable to soundboard strategies and challenge our thoughts, but in the end, if something doesn’t feel right, we hit pause, because deep down we know what’s best for Kic.

Rebecca Vallance, Creative Director & Founder

The most powerful piece of advice I’ve been given is to always trust my gut instinct. It has always served me well over the last 14 years, and any mistake I’ve made has been when I haven’t trusted my instincts.

Someone once sent me a quote saying “be ruthless with systems, be kind with people”. I felt this captured what I had unconsciously been doing in my work, and it’s something I constantly come back to when I feel overwhelmed with emotions – which I often do working in the male violence prevention space.  This is a piece of advice I often relay to people, and it also ended up being the quote that opens my book, Consent Laid Bare. 

These women will be speaking at Forbes Australia’s inaugural Women’s Summit event on the 26th of March, presented by NAB Private Wealth. They’ll be joined by other influential women, including Tesla chair Robyn Denholm, actor Yael Stone and head of women’s football for Football Australia, Sarah Walsh.

You can see the full line-up and get your tickets here.

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