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Connections in high places

02 March 2013

We have some significant events to celebrate during the month of March and I’m inviting you all to play a part in their success by telling us what you think about them on Ruby.

Firstly, it’s Ruby’s fifth birthday and there will be celebrations with connections in high places – so look out for the Tweets and posts.

Westpac’s also celebrating the fact it’s in the top 10 of the top 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World, according to the World Economic Forum. We’ve also released fascinating research around women and technology and women and workplace diversity and we’re also looking forward, as part of the GBA, to our possible involvement in the upcoming APEC Women’s Economic Forum in Indonesia later this year.

We also have a very special Ruby of the Month interview with Cate Blanchett. It’s been so exciting securing Cate, her words continue to resonate with me on so many levels as I am sure they will with you.

Finally, we are again working with Care Australia for its Walk in her Shoes fundraising event, donning our own walking shoes to understand the grind and time of walking, which for many women living in poverty is a daily necessity.

Many years ago we came to a very important realisation in Women’s Markets: if we were to touch women in a significant and meaningful way, finding an authentic voice in the social media space was going to make the difference.

It was why we created our Ruby website, and why her continuing evolution to be a place where women can come together to connect, share and inspire remains so profoundly in tune with what we want as women.

I’ll also let you in on a couple of little secrets. The premises upon which we based the evolution of Ruby, our propensity as women to adopt technology for its mobility, connectivity, time saving nature, and ease of access to information and education have all been borne out by our most recent research which we release on International Women’s Day, and which I urge you to read more about here.

The second secret involves our Ruby of the Month.

When we sat down many years ago now to research and define, through images and words, who Ruby was, and what she said about our members, one of the names that invariably came up when women were asked to think of someone who epitomised for them great success, positive influence, business ability; care for family, community and the environment; leadership on a world and national stage, and impeccable style, was Cate Blanchett.

What we could never know back then, as we formed our archetype, was that the virtual would, one day, become a reality.

Ruby has evolved and grown across the years from an online initiative for women, to the point where she’s now a universal brand that’s here to stay. Under her auspices sit our Women’s Markets initiatives, including networking events, the Ruby Learning series, information about business and financial opportunities, including our awards and scholarships, as well as the information, products, opportunities and relationships women need to grow their financial independence.

Ruby’s success, embedded in the bank’s principles, is at the working heart of our distribution channels with our local bank managers and corporation wide Ambassadors, and its at work at the very top with our CEO Gail Kelly, who’ll be launching our new initiatives this International Women’s Day at a Ruby celebration.

I can also tell you, through Westpac’s work in the Global Banking Alliance (of which Westpac is a founding member), Ruby now has the ear of 29 international financial institutions as well as Hillary Clinton’s interest. The GBA, and that of course includes Ruby, will have the opportunity of working with both the Australian and US governments at the upcoming APEC Women’s Economic Forum in Indonesia later this year, helping to leverage the experience of its member institutions around developing and facilitating female wealth creation for the benefit of all those attending.

My continuing involvement with the GBA reminds me of something Cate speaks about in our interview with her. Even though you might officially finish in a position, such as Cate’s with the STC as co Artistic Director, when you’re passionate about what that position involved, and remain connected to it by that passion and your continuing associations, nothing’s ever over.

For me stepping down as chair of the GBA has never meant ‘so long, and thanks for the memories’. I’m still attending GBA meetings, speaking at and attending associated events and shepherding Global Best Practice initiatives and learnings through to the executive for inclusion in an important case study to further develop female wealth creation globally.

In fact, I recently returned from a trip to the US to attend GBA events. No matter how much you think it through, when you leave 38 degree C summer heat and arrive in a freezing North American winter nothing in your suitcase is going to be suitable. Thankfully, I was on a plane home just before the blizzards hit and the airports shut but I’m determined, next time, not to choose to go in February just because I have a window of opportunity in the diary. I’ll be taking ‘climate change’ into consideration as well.

On January 23 this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Westpac earned a spot among the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World. Ranked 10th overall, we’re the best performing bank globally and have the highest result for any Australian company.

The focus of the assessment is on the tangible outcomes of sustainable business practices and we’ve featured in the Global 100 for seven of the past eight years. Some of the key drivers of the result have been the way we’ve met and exceeded diversity targets for women and indigenous Australians; our ongoing successful commitment to managing our environmental footprint; our support of customers and suppliers in their efforts to achieve sustainability goals, and our increase in employee engagement – up three percent to 84% compared to our 2011 result.

It was a proud moment for Gail and the Group.

We recently took part in Springboard International’s inaugural accelerator program for Australian women entrepreneurs raising equity capital. Our part: we were on the judging panel that chose the final eight entrepreneurs to attend the Bootcamp in February and receive coaching from a “personal advisory board” of top placed business people and investors. (The event comes at the instigation of Wendy Simpson, one of our recent Women at Work interviews and the Chairman of Springboard Enterprises Australia.) The eight Australian female entrepreneurs were chosen from 56 formal applications. A team of 10 entrepreneurs and investors from the US conducted training sessions at the Bootcamp. The eight business owners now have some connections in very high places and are preparing themselves for presentation to investors in 3 to 4 months time.


Congratulations to

  • Georgia Beattie, founder of Single Serve Packaging, a wine product company
  • Samantha Cobb, founder of biotech company AdAlta
  • Tessa Court, founder of cloud computing company IntelligenceBank
  • Deb Noller, founder of the tech company Switch Automation
  • Melanie Perkins of consumer technology company Canva
  • Natasha Rawlings of StreetHawk, a mobile marketing company
  • Fiona Waterhouse from clean tech company Utilitas, turning organic waste into clean energy.
  • Vanessa Wilson, founder of cloud computing company Triplebackup


Happy International Women’s Day to you all and I look forward to staying in touch with you throughout the year on Ruby.