This year the Sunshine Coast Business Women's Network (SCBWN) is celebrating a momentous 25 YEARS since the incorporation of the network under the name 'Women in the Workforce'.
To celebrate this great milestone we are recognising those that have put so much into the long-term sustainability of SCBWN. We are incredibly excited to share with you all the interviews of our devoted past presidents and share their stories of personal contribution and their legacy to SCBWN over the years!
From 2008 - 2011, Sue Willis's presidency was defined by her dedication to fostering professional development and empowering women to achieve their full potential in the business arena. Under her guidance, the network expanded its membership base and outreach, becoming a vital resource for professional women in the region. Sue Willis's dynamic leadership during her presidency left a lasting legacy of empowerment and community among Sunshine Coast businesswomen.
Sue, what are your fondest memories of the SCBWN?
“Fellowship and friendship. To inspire and be inspired through the network of clever, strong, interesting women who live and work in our business community.”
What did you always want to achieve? What was your legacy? What were you most proud of with the network or in business?
“To see what and how the network continues to provide to, and for, new generations of business women (and men). To remain in touch with so many who have impacted on my professional and personal growth and to have contributed in some small way is incredibly satisfying and is something I have passed on to my daughter as she develops her own successful career and networks.”
What are your hopes for women in business, now and into the future?
“Never lose sight of the importance of surrounding yourselves with inspirational, positive people. We are what we consume and that includes what others offer. Always approach life - business and personal - with an understanding that the more you invest in the growth and success of others, not just yourself, the more you will receive and the richer the experience will be. I wish for women in business now and in the future to hold true to the principles of reciprocity and stand together to ensure that this path we have carved to equality continues to lead each generation to an easier and more inclusive working experience.”
What was your greatest challenge as a woman in business when you were president?
What is the greatest challenge you believe faces women in business today?
“I think the greatest challenge was the juxtaposition between being professionally unaffected by the stereotypical gender pay in-balance in my corporate life, but being incredibly challenged by the gender power in-balance in my working life. There continues to be an underlying culture that facilitates a consensus amongst professional women that it's just not worth it to challenge the boys club or rock the boat, rather just learn to play the game. This means the status quo is not challenged as it should be, and I do think this continues to be one of the greatest challenges for women in business today and into the future.”
What would you like to see the SCBWN do next?
“I’d like to see the SCBWN continue to focus on training and development offerings, and most importantly open the door for underprivileged or struggling young women, who have goals and dreams for their future, to achieve those goals. This will be more important than ever as young women face more diverse and new challenges in this rapidly changing world. Mentoring and helping to open doors to the future business women (and men) of our community will be the greatest legacy for the Network.”
What are your thoughts on business/economy on the Sunshine Coast now and over the next decade?
“This is the hardest question. The business environment faces so many new challenges that didn't exist just a short few years ago. The need to be adaptable and change resilient will be more important for our Sunshine Coast businesses than ever before. The next decade will see us understanding our consumer markets and being quick to respond to their changing wants and needs, underpinned by the old fashioned 'good business' service and integrity on which we built this business community. The need to work closely with and partner together to develop the future Sunshine Coast will be more important than ever as we navigate rapid change and changing consumer needs.”
Do you have a message of encouragement for women in business today?
“It's okay to not be okay and to ask for help. Burnout, exhaustion and mental health issues are all very real challenges that more women than we realise struggle with as our lives have become increasingly busy, demanding and stressful. More of us need to speak up about the very real issues we face as we navigate business and family in this generation of high expectations, 'perfect lives' as depicted on social media, and the very real daily challenges of delivering to societal expectations. You are enough. Follow your dreams and goals with integrity, be realistic and do you. The level at which you perform will fluctuate. It's okay to take a break, it's okay to have a down day. I've learned even God can't change the past, the future hasn't happened yet, the only time is now and I get to choose to be the best version of myself in this moment. Oh, and a glass of champagne with a girlfriend is always a good idea!”
What are you up to now?
“After many years running newspapers and radio stations and taking on/relaunching a hugely successful accommodation booking agency, I have semi-retired into a more balanced lifestyle, consulting and working on my own business development and launch here in my chosen home town of Noosa.”