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2014.11.19 Encouraging & Developing More Women Leaders Breakfast Forum

Encouraging & Developing More Women Leaders Breakfast Forum

Today we had an amazing morning celebrating International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. We heard from:

  • Lynn Kraus -  Sydney Office Managing Partner, Diversity & Inclusiveness Advocate at EY
  • Steve Vamos - Founder and President of the Society for Knowledge Economics, Member of Advisory Board, Business School at UTS: University of Technology, Sydney, non-executive director of Telstra, Chair at NY based female-run Aussie start-up called Reading Room Inc
  • Rebekah Campbell - Founder of Posse, Columnist at New York Times
  • Stephane Ibos - Co-founder & CEO of Maestrano
  • Elizabeth Eastland - CEO of iAccelerate
  • Orsi Parkanyi - Founder & CEO of Women as Entrepreneurs
  • Monique Lawler - Head of Women as Entrepreneurs, Sydney
  • Jennifer Dalitz, Diversity expert, Career Coach, Award winning blogger on women, work & leadership.

Please check out the photos below.

Also, many of you asked for today’s ‘By birth, By choice’ speech, so here it is! (thank you for all your support and encouragement. It means the World to me! X)


By birth: I am a Hungarian and a Woman. By choice: I am an Australian, an Advocate and a Leader.

By birth: I am a child of communism, racism, sexism. By choice: I am a proud to be a feminist and advocate for change.

By birth: I am GenY, a generation that takes equality for granted. We assume that in 2014, 50 years after the feminist movement began; women and men have equal opportunities. But unfortunately, by my knowledge and what we have all seen, I am disappointed to say that this is simply an illusion. The most recent gender gap report by the World Economic Forum reports yet again, that no country in the World has closed the gender gap, Australia placed at 24 behind countries such as Slovenia and Bulgaria.

I came to Australia nearly 10 years ago when I was 22 with one purpose: to make a difference on a global scale. I knew I wasn’t going to achieve what I set out to do for myself from a tiny country in Eastern Europe. I wanted to experience what it was like to live in a country that had not been torn apart by wars, where democracy was a given, where people’s dreams and aspirations had no limits. But more than that: I wanted to become a woman who made a difference, left a legacy, left a mark in the World.

To some it may seem overly ambitions or even impossible or unachievable. I know that if I had told my teachers or my family back in Hungary over 10 years ago, that I would be a citizen of another country, be speaking on the stage at EY, a Y20 conference or a G20 event in front of hundreds of people – they all would have thought I was crazy.

But I come from a generation that believes anything is possible. I come from a generation that is motivated by ideas and a big vision rather than titles or money. I know we are far from perfect, and we can often create troubles, but we also create movements, collaborative work spaces and disrupt industries to create better ones.

The truth is, that I almost feel embarrassed talking about achieving gender equality in such a privileged country, while there are so many problems in the World today. But we have to start somewhere, and I believe that above all, because of our privilege, we have a great responsibility to close the gender gap once and for all. Think about this: if we can’t achieve equality for our women here in Australia, what hope do women in the developing world have?

Late last year I was brought on board by a Queensland University to organize a conference called ‘Entrepreneurship in Action’ for 20 visiting women from Pakistan. There was a young girl named Amina, who I felt a special connection with. When I asked her if Australia had lived up to her expectations, she said: “Oh Orsi, I actually knew a lot about Australia as I had made many friends online before I even came here. I am now looking for opportunities and funding to grow my business in Australia

Technology has changed everything to an extent we would never have imagined. I am extremely excited about this 21. century and the opportunities we have in front of us. The predictions for the future simply blow my mind. Between 2010 and 2020, 3 billion people are coming online, many of them are women.

What excites me the most is the knowledge that behind the computers gender, age, nationality, disability, religion, beauty do not matter. Behind the computers, we are all equal and that has already triggered a new wave of feminism too.

Just like Amina, more and more women from the developing world are able to make a living and become independent by working as freelancers. As we work together we also get to talk and connect. We learn a lot from one another, which is very powerful. But above all that, in my heart, I also hope that these millions of new connections that are forming between nations, cultures, religions everyday will stop wars and bring more peace to the World. And I believe women will have a vital role in this process.

By birth, we all were born in a World that is run on traditional patriarchal lines which is led to unconscious bias generated by gender stereotypes we created in the past about the supposingly ideal roles for women and for men. Like everything else, these gender stereotypes too need to be reviewed and reconsidered as Humanity evolves.

I believe that even though we were born and raised in this traditional World, it is our choice to live in a more diverse, thriving and equal World instead, where everyone benefits. I mean: everyone: women and men. But we have to take action, and we have to take action now, otherwise statistically, it will take over 80 years to close the pay gap in the first country.

You may have seen a recent speech by UN Women ambassador, Emma Watson. I’d like to read a short section from her speech: “Men, Gender Equality is your issue too. Because to date, I’ve seen my father’s role as a parent being valued less by society, I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less of a man. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals. If we do that, things will change for women as a natural consequence”

I’ll leave you with Emma’s wise words, but now I’d love to take the opportunity to acknowledge, celebrate, thank and champion those men – many of you are here today –, and the women, who have realised the benefits gender equality will bring and who work hard every day for advocating for this New, Diverse and Better World.

Ladies & Gentlemen! We are here today to celebrate Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and to make sure we continue to build this Diverse World for ourselves and for the next generations to come. Before I give the microphone back to Monique and the Panel, I’d like to share a poem I wrote during the recent G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance summit on behalf of women entrepreneurs everywhere:




I am passionate, knowledgeable, creative and witty.

Don’t like being objectified and called ‘beautiful’ or ‘pretty’


I am at the table and want to be heard.

Don’t look through me; my ideas can change the entire world!


I may not have the courage to step up or disagree

You can help me through mentoring and advocating for me


I will get stronger as more women & men join me

The gender balance is up to all of us to make a reality


I am proud to live in this time and belong to this community

Together we have the power to change the course of history



Thank you!


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