Friday the 25th May wasn’t just any ordinary Friday. It was the day of the 10th Annual BioMelbourne Network Connecting Women Lunch. Such a momentous occasion warranted a momentous event. For this year’s lunch, we returned to the place where it all began the beautiful Sofitel in Melbourne where we welcomed attendees of all genders.
The day began with a quick session of networking and reconnecting. And what an astonishing sight it was, to see almost 600 people from across the biotech, medtech and pharma sectors chatting and laughing and hugging in the one room. The buzz and excitement for the main event was palpable!
The lunch was opened by Dr Krystal Evans, CEO of the BioMelbourne Network, with a look back at the highlights and history of the Connecting Women Lunch. It all began with the idea of one woman- Michelle Gallaher, who back in 2009, was the newly appointed CEO of BioMelbourne Network. In a pop-up interview on Friday, Michelle shared that her reason for starting the “Connecting Women” event was to create competitive advantage for women and to thank all those champions of the sector who support women.
Over the years, BioMelbourne Network has welcomed 3,906 guests, featured 32 speakers and raised $55,901 for charity. Importantly the event has created a warm and encouraging space for women in health industries to celebrate successes, build their networks, do business and to encourage, support and inspire one another.
One other tradition that has developed over time is the CSL video presentation. This year’s video, titled “A Big Journey Deserves Big Dreams,” highlighted the remarkable women at CSL, their personal journeys to the positions they now hold and their advice for achieving success. These precious pearls of wisdom included aim high and back yourself, always be ready to negotiate a fair salary and don’t sweat the small stuff. Fantastic insights!
The inspiring words did not end there. Our keynote speaker at this year’s Lunch was Dr Susan Alberti AC. Susan spoke generously and with grace about her tough upbringing, her husband Angelo and her daughter Danielle, the formation of her successful building company and the tragedy that she has faced throughout the years. Susan also spoke about her dedication to supporting diabetes research and establishing the women’s AFL league, against all odds. It was a powerful keynote speech that advocated for greater investment in ensuring accessibility, addressing inequalities and striving towards a more equal society for all. Everyone in the room was moved by her words and gave her a standing ovation – an inspirational leader!
The spotlight on women in leadership roles continued with the “On the Couch” panel session with speakers Christine O’Reilly (Non-executive Director at CSL), Sam Cobb (CEO of AdAlta Limited), Professor Christine Kilpatrick (Chief Executive of Melbourne Health) and Kathy Connell (Senior Director of JNJ Innovation). These women talked about career resilience, taking opportunities and risks, the challenges that women face and the meaning of diversity, in all its forms. It was fantastic to hear from these leaders on navigating career changes and share their personal opinions on reasons for the lack of women in senior roles and their plans and hopes for the future.
Our charity partner for 2018 was the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation. I’m delighted to announce that the incredible generosity in the room raised a huge $18,646.70!! The day came to a close with the announcement of the door prizes winners, and a big shout out to all those who donated our prizes and congratulations to all who were lucky enough to walk away from this Lunch with something extra!
We would also like to thank our sponsors for their support, many of whom have travelled with BioMelbourne Network throughout the history of this lunch. It is this support and unwavering commitment to women in industry that has helped make the Connecting Women Lunch a successful and vibrant event.
Overall, it was an amazing day that encapsulated the heart and spirit of supporting women in industry, business and leadership. We would like to thank all attendees and guests for being a part of this important event and for coming along to celebrate this major 10th milestone! We look forward to seeing all, if not most, of you at next year’s “Connecting Women” Lunch.