Super boss reveals whether becoming PM is on the cards


Sam Mostyn is one of the most respected and accomplished executives in Australia – so is a run at top office on the cards?
Sam Mostyn at the Forbes Australia Women’s Summit on Tuesday, speaking with Editor-in-Chief Sarah O’Carroll. Image: Forbes Australia

Mostyn’s career has spanned business, policy, indigenous affairs, gender equity, sport and the arts. She chairs the boards of Ausfilm, ANROWS, Alberts, the Climate Council, and is the former President of Chief Executive Women and Citi Australia.

Taking the stage at the Forbes Australia Women’s Summit on Tuesday, Mostyn was quizzed on whether she would consider running for the top job in the country. Why? Her extensive CV, and a peer, Wendy McCarthy AO, put her forward.

“As much as it might be nice to contemplate that thought, you have to have been involved in politics for a long time,” Mostyn said. “You have to have done the hard work of representing a community – either as a senator or local member. You could never just drop into that role, because that role is about the parliament.”

Mostyn anticipates that there will be another female prime minister in Australia in the future. She sees hope in the increasingly gender-diverse makeup of the house and senate.


“There are so many extraordinary women in parliament today on both sides of government who could be prime minister.”

Mostyn is no stranger to being the first, or only, female executive in a room. She was appointed as a commissioner of the AFL in 2005.

“To be the first woman appointed to the AFL commission I was like, really? I never played the game. I loved the game, I was a fan… but, you just say yes. You’re being offered a chance to be a part of the process. What’s the worst that can happen?”

While she didn’t play the game, Mostyn was instrumental in creating the AFLW organisation so that a future generation of women can. Some of the feedback Mostyn received about bringing a different perspective to a male-dominated sports environment was surprising, she says.

“Soon after I joined the AFL commission, I was in a room of about 25 men and me. A couple of guys said to me ‘we’re so happy you’ve arrived, because some of the things you’re saying we’ve wanted to say, but it’s hard to be a bit different surrounded by a group of men just like me,” says Mostyn.

“For those men, a woman showing up and talking about topics they didn’t know how to raise, it opens doors.”

Sam Mostyn

Mostyn’s advice to the audience of 700 attendees at the Women’s Summit in Sydney, is if you are given an opportunity you may not feel ready for, say yes and prove yourself over time. Mostyn has experienced that self-doubt herself while applying for roles.

“I didn’t have the specific skills that I thought a job required. Generally, men will look at that and be like ‘great get me there and I’ll prove myself in the role’, generally, women will think a bit more and decide – I’m not quite ready, but I would love to do that one day.”

In 2021, Mostyn was appointed as an officer of the Order of Australia for her service to women, sustainability, business and the community.

“You will never know what you could have done,” she says. “Someone saw something in me, and you have to trust the people giving you that opportunity have seen something in you.”

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