There’s a core group of women driving Moreton Bay Region’s Regional Economic Development Strategy, which will create jobs and build a bigger, bolder, brighter future for everyone. We chat to them on International Women’s Day.
Making a difference is what drives Anne Lawrence in her role as Head of Industry Advancement at Moreton Bay Regional Council.
“Economic development isn’t a well-known career pathway, but it attracts people with experience in government and the private sector,” Ms Lawrence explains.
The former small businesses owner has worked in government roles, including with the CSIRO, and is keen to build capacity across the region for “collective benefit”.
She says the private sector is profit-driven but her role with Council is about growth and opportunity, and she can see the difference it will make along the way.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, we ask Ms Lawrence who has been a role model for her.
She says there have been many people, men and women, who have been career and personal role models.
“I focus on people who can add value to me at that time in my career and personally,” she explains
She says Jetts Group CEO Elaine Jobson has influenced her in recent times.
“She’s taken the time to talk with me over a few critical issues and I’ve been inspired and enthused by that,” Ms Lawrence says.
Ms Jobson’s inclusive leadership style particularly impresses her because it shows you can be strong and inclusive at the same time.
“She doesn’t just talk the talk, with respect to her leadership style,” Ms Lawrence says.
She’ll be using that approach as she works with business and industry to help them grow and prosper in her role with Council.
“With 30,000 businesses in the region, that can seem like a daunting task, but if you ask how you can help at every intersection, it’s not so daunting,” she explains.
She’s working with representative clusters of industry and groups and says when industry comes together, it makes it easier for government to partner with and support them.
Also part of her role is identifing strengths and challenges and designing programs to assist.
Council has just launched the Aspire program, which aims to create a circular economy across the region by finding other uses for items some businesses might consider waste.
“We running a range of programs and partnerships in the region involving collaboration which fill the needs of the region at this time,” Ms Lawrence says.
In her view, government does not necessarily have all the answers and it is important to collaborate with industry to advance the region.It needs to be an ongoing, open and fluid conversation.
She has been in the role for about six weeks, but worked in a similar role elsewhere for five years.
Ms Lawrence says the REDS is an example of collaboration as it has been co-created with industry and the community.
“It’s up to us as a community to get behind it and work through it and how we can progress these initiatives over that timescale,” she says.
The region has an exceptionally diverse talent pool to draw from and she has already identified clusters in advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, innovation and tourism.
“I’m very impressed by the region and I genuinely believe this. That’s why I’ve taken the role. I did my research before taking on the role. There’s huge opportunities for the region,” she says.
With a sharp focus on innovation and talent, Ms Lawrence said Megan Avard, of Surepact, had impressed her and was a standout woman in the community actively contributing to the sector.
So, how can we better support women in the sector?
“Just being aware of different styles of communication and leadership … not every style suits everyone,” Ms Lawrence says.
She says support is not just needed for women but also youth and multicultural communities in backing their talent.
“We do have all these talented people that might not present as traditional business leaders,” she says.
“We need to be inclusive and supportive of everyone.”
Ms Lawrence says it is important the community gets behind the REDS and join #teammoretonbay to further the prosperity of the region.
“As a region, we can have an identity and with that identity comes great opportunity,” she says.
Coming from a family of small business owners, Kerrianne Haggie knows how important it is to make decisions based on more than gut instinct.
As the head of Economic Intelligence at Moreton Bay Regional Council, she is understandably driven by data.
A background in industry development at state and local government level, and in the not-for-profit human services sector working with organisations to ensure they were ready for the NDIS and other major reforms, has reinforced her view.
It helped her understand a real need for evidence-based investment, based on robust methods and it unearthed a passion for data and managing it to achieve real outcomes.
Her data and insight into the region’s economic engine room will be vital as Council works through its Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS), now and in the coming years.
Ms Haggie says we live in a resource-constrained environment, so it is more important than ever to be able to evaluate local impacts of actions to ensure policy and programs were effective.
“It ensures the potency of our actions and the best outcomes from the limited resources available,” she says.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, we ask Ms Haggie if there’s been a female role model who has helped shape her professionally and as a person.
“Within the human services sector, I had the opportunity to work with incredible women, some in leadership roles,” she says.
“The best role models, who totally inspire greatness, are everyday people striving to be the best version of themselves. I’ve seen that in a lot of women in every aspect of my life. I could not pinpoint one person.”
A key part of her role with Council is to help business owners achieve the best version of their businesses by helping them gain economic intelligence, which will support their decision making. This is via chambers of commerce and direct contact with individuals.
She aims to verify their gut instincts and give them the confidence to act.
The second part of her role is to track and monitor Council’s intervention to make sure it is delivering what is necessary to achieve a resilient economy.
It will keep the Council strategy on track and measure the impact. Key indicators will be business entries and exits, job numbers and standard of living.
We ask Ms Haggie why it is important for women to engage in REDS?
She says it is equally important for men and women to take advantage of business and career opportunities, and she wants to see improved career outcomes for women with just 16 per cent of private CEO roles being filled by women.
This is despite the majority of students completing bachelor degrees or higher being female.
She says there is a wealth of knowledge across a range of sectors and women need more opportunities to achieve.
Ms Haggie says in 2020, women were still earning 86 per cent of the wage of their male equivalents, working full-time.
“There are still equity issues to address,” she says.
Building relationships and identifying opportunities to generate trade and investment are central to Lisa Ward’s role as Head of Trade and Investment at Moreton Bay Regional Council.
She joined the team in November and has hit the ground running as Council rolls out its Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS), which aims to propel the region’s economy for the next 20 years.
Ms Ward brings plenty of experience to the table, spending more than 15 years leveraging sporting events for economic outcomes, including the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Asian Games in Qatar and Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
She was also involved with Trade 2018 – the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Trade and Investment Program, which provided an opportunity for government and business leaders to meet, build new relationships, strengthen trade and investment ties and explore opportunities across the Commonwealth.
And she has been involved in tourism investment and attraction in Queensland.
“All that experience has led me to this role,” Ms Ward says.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, we ask Ms Ward if there has been a woman in her life who has been a strong role model.
“I’ve been really lucky to have worked with many inspiring women in my career,” she says.
During the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, she worked alongside a woman who was an inspiring working mum and in a leadership role in the Victorian government.
“She always made time for me, gave me feedback and great advice. She brought her whole self to work,” Ms Ward recalls
“She taught me to bring my whole self to work and be authentic. I have taken that with me along my whole journey.”
Her role with Moreton Bay Regional Council is to attract inward investment in the region and work with local businesses that want to expand in the region.
She is also working with businesses that already export, or wish to export, to help them find new opportunities or provide support so they can build capacity and capability.
It is a two-pronged role and, as key pillar of the REDS, it’s her job to bring it to life.
Part of that is building a Moreton Bay Region business identity.
“We want the region to be known as a place you can do business and invest,” she says.
Work has started on creating that identity and pitching the region as a place to invest.
“It’s important to build relationships across the region with local businesses and those who can help us in that investment space outside the region,” she says.
This could be within Australia and internationally, so she says she’s generating leads and focusing on ‘landing the plane’.
Ms Ward says the work Council is doing in this area is critical as the region’s economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19.
“It’s critical we support our region and create new jobs and business for the region,” she explains.
She says COVID-19 has shown us the ability to work close to home is important, and there is also a need to focus on industry that’s high value and will create capital and jobs.
“Our economic development team is working to support local business as best we can,” Ms Ward says.
The Moreton Bay Region has a diverse offering, which creates many opportunities but also makes creating an overall identity trickier, she says.
There’s a great advanced manufacturing sector already, tourism and innovation and niche businesses, and there’s a large and growing population base, which will help grow retail and health care services.
She says it’s important women from all sectors engage with the REDS, which is an enabler for the region.
It will help the region grow and ensure Council provides the support they need to expand and prosper.
As someone who was born and raised in the Moreton Bay Region, Belinda Boyce is passionate about doing her bit to see it thrive.
She and the team at Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism (MBRIT) are working hard to deliver projects and initiatives that increase the prosperity of the region in various ways.
“To name just a few, the team works tirelessly to profile Moreton Bay Region as a leisure destination through our Visit Moreton Bay Region digital platforms and campaigns, as well as delivering tourism events that drive visitation and dollars to our economy,” Ms Boyce explains.
“On the other side, the team is delivering projects targeted at the 450,000 locals who call Moreton Bay Region home. We do this by providing free community news platforms as well as a thriving calendar of community events throughout the region.
“All of MBRIT’s initiatives are driven by our vision to increase the prosperity of the Moreton Bay Region, as well as enhancing the region’s reputation as an enviable destination to live, work, shop, rest, study and play.”
Ms Boyce’s career started in local government, in an events team focused on sponsorship recruitment.
“This experience offered me a solid understanding of the marketing and events world, as well as solving creative problems for businesses,” she explains.
“As a founding member of the MBRIT team, I’ve been fortunate to grow alongside the organisation and be hands-on in a number of different roles.
“In my current role as General Manager of Marketing, Communication and Operations, I get to work with our incredible teams that are responsible for delivering all the marketing and media platforms and campaigns for our various projects, as well as the delivery of our incredible events calendar.”
So why is she so passionate about her role and the region?
“I was born and raised right here in Moreton Bay Region. I attended both primary and high school and have started my professional career here as well. I am extremely passionate about increasing the prosperity of the Moreton Bay Region. This has a flow on effect to everyone who lives here, myself and my family included,” she says.
In leading the Moreton Bay Region’s destination management plan Oriana Wyrozebska is constantly looking for ways her team can make the region a leading destination of choice.
“This includes working with the region’s tourism sector, exploring ways we can build their capacity and capability to deliver premium products and experiences to visitors (and locals), and working to inform government policy to unlock opportunities and navigate barriers,” Ms Wyrozebska explains.
“I also oversee our Innovate Moreton Bay and Business Moreton Bay Region platforms that seek to connect, provide resources and knowledge-share across the innovation and SME ecosystems respectively.”
It all started for her in the decade after Expo 88, when she witnessed the emergence and growth of Brisbane city.
“Attracted by the new towers I chose to study Property Economics to be part of the action. It wasn’t until I moved to London and joined the JLL Hotels team that I fell into tourism,” she explains.
“It was no longer just bricks and mortar, hotels took on a life of their own – they are not just places for sleeping, but where memories are made and life’s milestones are celebrated. I haven’t left since.”
In her role at MBRIT, Ms Wyrozebska says she’s keen to unlock the Moreton Bay Region’s potential and work with Council in implementing its Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS).
“Moreton Bay welcomes 4.7 million visitors each year worth over $1.1 billion in visitor expenditure supporting over 5300 jobs in our region,” she explains.
“Moreton Bay has huge potential to be the leading destination of choice and leverage the significant investment occurring in SEQ and be a major beneficiary of the 2032 Olympic Games.
“The Moreton Bay region remains a hidden gem to many, and we have a fantastic opportunity to further underpin and grow the regions offering and drive greater value for locals.”
So, what can we all do to better support women in business and grow our economy?
“Investing in women just makes good economic policy. When women are active participants in the workforce, they have more money with which to invest, and we see that in the form of a measurable market impact,” Ms Wyrozebska says.
“But the pay gap remains too high, with Australia’s national gender pay gap being at 14 per cent. Germany recently proposed a law to enforce boards quota for women. There was a time when I was against these types of gender-oriented quotas (believing individuals should get there on merit). But I have seen too many “average” male colleagues promoted beyond their capabilities to be at all concerned about the possibility that a “average” woman could now have an opportunity to do the same. It’s time we mandated change.”
Ms Wyrozebska says there is no shortage of “amazing women doing amazing things”, when we ask if there’s someone who has inspired her, she pinpoints one.
“I’d say that Jacinda Ardern has been inspiring to watch. Not only did she become the world's youngest female head of government but also gave birth while in office, all while retaining an authentic and empathetic leadership style not normally seen in politics,” she says.