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A significant calendar event for many business women around the country is the Telstra Women’s Business Awards. This year, the awards are celebrating 20 years of recognising and rewarding the contribution that women are making in private enterprise, the government and community sector, business innovation, as well as celebrating young women business leaders.

To each Nominee that took the time to reflect on your contribution to our business economy, congratulations for having the courage to step forward and accept the Nomination.

To each State Finalist, what an accomplishment you have achieved in being recognised by your peers as leading contributors toward business and innovation in Australia. In particular, I would like to congratulate Decinda McDonald, Sugar and Spice Events (Qld); Kate Weiss, Table of Plenty (Vic); Dr Denise Meyerson, Management Consultancy International (NSW); Emma Isaacs, Business Chicks (NSW); Tina Tower, Begin Bright (NSW) and Laurie McDonald, Canberra Furnished Accommodation (ACT).  There’s an extra hearty cheer from me to each of you.

The Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence Awards also celebrate and acknowledge women making outstanding contributions in Australia in ten key segments. Congratulations to both Cathy Burke, The Hunger Project (Global Award) and Carly Findlay (Diversity Award) on being recognised by this prestigious award.

Innovation isn’t defined by age and this was certainly demonstrated by the recent Origin Energy LittleBigIdea. Three young Queenslanders are now heading off on an innovation adventure to the USA as a result of their LittleBigIdea. From colour-change nail polish to detect germs, solar-powered lawn mowers and gemstones to charge phones – these young innovators are showing clear signs of disruptive thinking. You can read about their ideas here.

Each of the above women has a remarkable story to tell. They have been recognised for their contributions to society, which does not come without dedication to their purpose and resilience.  One particularly remarkable story I was privileged to hear last week was that of Ms Julia Gillard’s. Regardless of your political standpoint, no one can deny that Ms Gillard is a truly remarkable woman for achieving the status of Australia’s first female Prime Minister. Ms Gillard presented an intelligent, insightful, respectful and, at times, humorous account of her time in office. You could hear a pin drop amongst the 1,000-strong audience in Melbourne as we sat riveted to each personal, professional and political anecdote. It was, quite an extraordinary morning.

My heartfelt thanks to Women In Focus and Business Chicks for enabling me to meet Ms Gillard and to be present for a morning that I will remember for a very long time. I captured a few photos from the morning, which you can see here.

Regardless of whether your story is being acted out in the public domain or whether you are forging a path privately, your story counts.