Last month our National Program Manager, Olivia Doherty, and I traveled to New York City with a delegation of our Alumnae including:
The catalyst for the trip was our invitation to the Springboard Enterprises Winners Circle Dinner.
It was the 13th Annual Winners Circle Dinner at the famous Boathouse Restaurant in the middle of Central Park.
To say the night was an inspiration is an understatement. The co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, Kay Koplovitz kicked off formalities with empowering words. Celebrating the milestone of $20bn in less than 20 years. Including $10bn in capital raised by Alumnae and a further $10bn via Mergers and Acquisitions. Kay summarizes:
“We give tremendous human capital. That is what makes Springboard exceptional!”
“We dream big and then we execute! That’s what we do.”
Springboard Enterprises Alumna Shelia Mikhail was the recipient of the Northstar Honour. A pioneer in gene therapy, seen as an icon in an industry developing cures for debilitating and deadly genetic disorders and whose company has raised more than $300M and divested two successfully acquired spin outs. Sheila told us of the challenges she had to face to get to this point including multiple times when she felt like giving up.
We also heard a very heartfelt story from a mother of a young boy who is a fortunate recipient of the work Sheila does. There was not a dry eye in the house, except for Olivia J! Thank goodness Sheila didn’t give up.
The Strategic Partner Honouree was awarded to none other than Christie Hefner. Honoured for the phenomenal work, vision and sage advice given to women who truly transform industries. Christie took the helm of the household name company Playboy in the 50s positioning it into a progressive, omnichannel empire that led the company into the 21st century via digital and international expansion. Now as a board member and advisor to early stage companies, including many in the Springboard Enterprises portfolio she shares her gift of transformational leadership.
Christie was joined by her 93yo mum who she credits for her bravery to aim high. She told us a story of when her mum was recently asked how proud she was of Christie her mum responded saying “I thought she would end up running a much bigger company.”
In her speech Christie quoted TS Elliot to summarize the challenge and bravery of entrepreneurship - “If you are not in over your head how do you know how tall you are?”.
I was personally a little star struck to meet them both and more inspired as both a leader and a mum.
Whilst we were in town we were very fortunate to be invited to the Australian Consul General, for New York, Alastair Walton’s private residence, where we discussed setting up a business in the US, the US health system and all the wonderful work the embassy and Austrade are doing to support our business entrepreneurs.
We were fortunate to start relationships with Austrade meeting Nicola Watkinson, the General Manager of Austrade for the Americas, who attended the lunch and Daniel Meninelli, the Austrade Business Development Director in New York.
This trip has left me feeling even more fuelled to drive our mission of accelerating women led business in 2020 and beyond. The SBEUS 2020 mission is now in the planning for what will be an even bigger and better mission to open as many doors for our Alumnae as we can.