08 March 2024

International Women’s Day: Empowerment, Unity and Inspiring Stories

What an extraordinary occasion it was, commemorating International Women’s Day in partnership with the Fremantle Dockers Football Club at Crown in Perth this past Wednesday, March 6th. The event brimmed with inspiration, as attendees were treated to impactful stories and invaluable networking opportunities. One highlight was the incredible journey shared by Kate Reid, from her days as an F1 Engineer to becoming the founder of Lune Croissanterie. Her narrative underscored the power of transferable skills and unwavering passion.

Among the speakers was our very own General Manager for PERSOLKELLY WA/VIC, Sarah Swiderski, who shared her compelling story of stepping beyond her comfort zone as she embarks on an exciting journey relocating to Melbourne with her family. Sarah’s story resonated deeply, showcasing the courage and determination needed to embrace change and pursue new opportunities.

Attendees were fortunate to gain insights and advice from Angie Bain of FFC, along with AFL/AFLW team members, who shared their experiences on resilience and the importance of fostering a supportive network in the workplace. Their words served as a reminder of the strength found in unity and solidarity.

Sarah Swiderski’s speech encapsulated the essence of the day, as she reflected on her personal and professional journey. Her decision to embrace discomfort and pursue new horizons exemplified the spirit of International Women’s Day.

Sarah’s full speech:

“I am truly honoured to be here today, celebrating International Women’s Day with such an inspiring group of individuals. Unfortunately, but luckily for me, my colleague Lorinda couldn’t make it today, so I’m pleased to have the opportunity to take her place. An experience that reminded me of when I landed my first job in recruitment 19 years ago. The agency I had interviewed with didn’t initially offer me my first role, but instead, called me 2 weeks later to say that first choice didn’t last the week and offered me the position. It was a great start for me in my new career and 19 years later I am still working in an industry that I love.

And that brings me to today. I’m married, a mother of 2 gorgeous and often challenging children Tommy and Grace and I turned 39 last week. I would describe myself as someone who loves to be busy and challenged but as we approached the end of 2023 I asked my husband if this is it for us? Our family is complete (definitely no more babies), we have finished our home renovation and we live a comfortable life but what now? Do we just work and get old? His response to me was ‘basically yes’ but I wasn’t happy to accept that and it got me thinking about my next step.

International Women’s Day is about empowering women.

When I was asked to talk today – I had so many reasons in my head to say “no thanks”, but I then thought about how I’d feel if I was sat out in the audience– and someone else was up here. Was it a missed opportunity or will I give the little voices in my head control? I felt it was way out of my comfort zone but what’s the worst that can happen? (unless I trip over on my way!) I had this feeling when I spoke to my Executive General Manager, Kurt in October last year. I am so lucky to be able to say that I love my job, my team and the organisation I work for, yet what else is out there for me. I am comfortable with being comfortable – but what next?

At this point I knew that there would be an opening in our business on the east coast, so I planted the seed with my husband Mark, and then my parents who I am very close to before speaking to Kurt. I thought at every step of the way something would come up to say “no” there is a reason we can’t go. I spoke to Kurt who had asked me many times over the years if I would like to move. I told him the time has come and I think we could be ready.

Why? Not because I am bored, not because I am not happy with my life here but because I know there is more out there for me, for my family AND for my career but I feel like it’s me who has to grab it with both hands. So, in 3 weeks I am relocating from Perth where I have worked over my whole career, to Melbourne.

It’s a big move. Tommy needs a new school, and my daughter Grace has a hearing disability, so we need to make sure we find our new supports with a deaf school and specialist network. Mark’s job… my parents… but guess what? It has all fallen into place. And no, I don’t know where we will live, I don’t have the support of my extended family like I do here, I won’t have the same work network of clients BUT I am ready to start building something new.

So I challenge you – are you comfortable with being comfortable OR are you ready to get comfortable with being uncomfortable? Yes, it is a promotion – but I wasn’t offered the role, I asked for it! My mum always taught me that good luck is a cross between hard work and opportunity. I feel really lucky with the opportunity and adventure that lies ahead for me and my family, so I encourage you to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

And that brings me to introduce our key speaker today – Dr Kate Reid. I had the pleasure of meeting Kate last week to ask her a few questions. At PERSOLKELLY and Programmed, our global vision is Work and Smile, and that means different things to each of us. For me, I find fulfillment in knowing that each and every day, our team have the power to change people’s lives for the better. I asked Kate the same question – what makes you work and smile – she replied with “bringing moments of joy and meeting people from all walks of life.” When someone walks into one of Kate’s stores, they are there for a reason and if you’ve walked past one in the early morning, you’ve most likely seen a queue around the block.

Kate’s journey has been one of growth. From studying Aerospace Engineering and working in Formula 1, Kate is now a renowned pastry chef and founder of Lune. Kate fell in love with a croissant ‘a pastry that is as much science and engineering as it is baking’. I asked Kate to give me 3 words that best described her career journey so far. They really resonated with me for so many reasons so I thought I would share them with you. The first word was ‘challenging’ but in a really good way! Sometimes the journey is not always easy but most often the challenge is worth it! When we are challenged we are given the opportunity to expand our skills and capabilities which leads to growth. The second was unexpected – as a Formula 1 engineer, Kate didn’t expect to have five successful stores but look at the business and team that she has built – and look what she has today. And the third – ‘achievement’. Today is about celebrating International Women’s Day and the achievements of all of us. So I challenge you to get comfortable being uncomfortable because this is where the magic happens. And on that note, please join me in giving Dr Kate Reid a warm welcome to the stage. Thank you.

As we reflect on this remarkable event, we extend our gratitude to the Fremantle Dockers Football Club for hosting a memorable celebration of empowerment and unity. From our team to yours, Happy International Women’s Day!