International Women's Day

This year for International Women’s Day we are celebrating #BeBoldForChange. We interviewed four outstanding women in four different industries
for whom gender has never been a barrier to great success.

Jocks et Nerds
Jocks et Nerds
Jocks et Nerds
Jocks et Nerds

Naomi Simson


Leaving her role as a marketing executive Naomi took a leap of faith establishing her company RedBalloon – the gift experience retailer that many of us turn to for original gifts. Her success as a founder and leader has led to her winning EY Champion of Entrepreneurship as well as becoming an investor on Shark Tank, a mentor and a mother.

THE UPSIDE: As a woman who has achieved so much from such a young age, what advice would you give young women starting out their careers?

Naomi Simson: As a young woman in business I wish someone had taken me aside and shared the following:

  • * Speak out. There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘Excuse me, let me jump in here.'”
  • * Don’t use 20 words when ten will do. Women tend to use more words than men, which can dilute a message. Being succinct is key to being heard.
  • * Money is not a dirty word. Women leave somewhere around $500,000 on the table by the time they’re 60 if they don’t negotiate an equitable first salary.

At I offer a free small business success cookbook, which covers some of the key elements that I have found worked for me in running many businesses.

TU: What were you like growing up? Did you always have an entrepreneurial spirit?

NS: I remember my parents trying to impart wisdom upon my younger self – and my busy little brain was saying something like: “Yeah, yeah, sure, whatever.” These are the five things I’d say to my younger self.

  • * Learn to listen deeply
  • * Be truly present.
  • * Slow down.
  • * I am who I am. Some people will not like that.
  • * Embrace technology at the core. Don’t fear the geek – be one!

TU: With such a busy work life, how do you switch off and find down time?

NS: Looking after myself is one of my responsibilities. I have really had to work very hard to discipline myself to turn up to the gym or do a yoga practice. I decided I needed an insight into my overall health; a snapshot of how old my body is – not just how old it feels. I discovered that my body is considered to be six years younger than I actually am!

Favourite THE UPSIDE Pieces

Molly Taylor

first female winner of the Australian Rally Championship

Whilst 2015 was the year history was made with Michelle Payne becoming the first female winner of the Melbourne Cup, 2016 saw Molly Taylor become the first female winner of the Australian Rally Championship and the youngest too at the age of 28.

THE UPSIDE: What advice would you give young women starting out their careers?

Molly Taylor: The most important thing is to truly love and be passionate about what you are doing. There will always be sacrifices so you need to want it. After that, it’s about rolling your sleeves up and working at it every day.

TU: What is your greatest achievement to date?

MT: Winning the 2016 Australian Rally Championship definitely sticks out in my mind. To be the youngest and first female to do so is pretty special. Competing in the Junior World Rally Championship in 2014 and standing on the podium in Finland (one of the toughest rally events in the world) was also one of the achievements I’m most proud of.

TU: Which women have inspired you in your career and life to date?

MT: My two biggest role models are former World Rally Championship driver Michele Mouton and my Mum. Michele drove for Audi in the 1980’s when the cars were extremely difficult and physically demanding to drive. Her attitude, determination and toughness is incredibly inspiring. Growing up and seeing my mum compete in motorsport professionally and seeing her win 4 Australian titles as a co-driver gave me a taste of what is possible. My sister and I were told anything was possible if you were willing to work for it.

Favourite THE UPSIDE Pieces

Emma Freedman

Channel 9 World Wide of Sports host

Busy doesn’t cover it. Emma balances hosting Channel 9 Wide World of Sports with radio presenting, charity work, and writing a book in her spare time!

THE UPSIDE: What were you like growing up? Did you always have a determined spirit? 

Emma Freedman: Yes! I loved school, studied hard, participated in everything - sport, music, drama, public speaking - all of it. I think for a time I was a little embarrassed by how much of a determined and focused kid I was, but now I’m ok with it and happy to share.

TU: With such a busy work life, how do you switch off and find down time?

EF: I exercise every day. I love training at Flow Athletic (and a bit of PT which sometimes acts as a therapy session!) as well as Lagree Pilates at Physicore. I also do simple things - walk the dog, cook, have wine with friends, swim in the ocean. My boyfriend Charlie would say that I ‘potter’ - meaning I tidy the house and do bits and pieces at my own pace and in my own world!

TU: Which women have inspired you in your career and life to date?

EF: It’s cliché but many of the women in my family, including my mother, sister and grandmas are incredibly supportive and encourage me career wise. My sister in particular in the last few years has been an inspiring woman to watch as her own career takes off.
Additionally, Lisa Wilkinson has been a wonderful support. Turia Pitt is a wonderful friend and has a knack for making me feel like I could do more.

Favourite THE UPSIDE Pieces

Tara Winkler

Cambodian Children's Trust

In 2007 following a trip to Cambodia, Tara Winkler founded the Cambodian Children’s Trust. The fund delivers the most impoverished children education, family support and community development programs. Tara now speaks fluent Khmer and is a TED Speaker. This year sees the launch of her exciting new initiative “Run a marathon, NOT an orphanage”. THE UPSIDE donates a percentage of every online sale to CCT.

THE UPSIDE: What is your greatest achievement to date?

Tara Winkler: My greatest achievement would have to be leading the Cambodian Children’s Trust to where it is today – a child protection organisation that is at the forefront of the care reform movement in Cambodia. CCT is also an implementing partner of USAID and UNICEF, and currently piloting the national solution to keeping children out of orphanages and ensuring they can escape poverty, while growing up safe, healthy and happy – with their families and connected to their communities. Doing a TED Talk at the Sydney Opera House in the same month as publishing my book has also been a highlight.

TU: With such a busy work life, how do you switch off and find down time?

TW: These days, my favourite way to unwind is to go for a long trail run with my team around the mountains in the Cambodian countryside. As well as being the best way I’ve found to switch off, training with my colleagues has made us a stronger, healthier and more resilient team. We also use the opportunity to raise awareness about the harms of orphanages with our campaign “Run a Marathon NOT an Orphanage!

TU: Which women have inspired you in your career and life to date?

TW: JK Rowling is a huge inspiration to me. She’s a perfect example of what can be achieved with enough grit, passion and perseverance. She’s also a tireless advocate for ending the era of orphanages. Molly Taylor, the Australian Rally Champion is also a huge source of inspiration for me. We’ve been friends since we were horse-obsessed kids when we used to train and compete together. It blows my mind how far she’s come and how much she’s achieved since then. She’s also one of the most humble people I know.

Favourite THE UPSIDE Pieces