Annette Kimmitt is a remarkable leader who through her noteworthy career has undertaken a range of senior executive and non-executive director roles. Annette is currently EY’s Global Growth Markets Leader and Asia-Pacific Accounts Leader, responsible for leading and executing the go-to-market and client service strategies for the entire Asia-Pacific area across all sectors. She also currently serves as Non-Executive Director of Melbourne Business School. Formerly she has served on the Boards of Air Services Australia, The Committee for Melbourne and Chaired the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Annette has provided instrumental leadership in Australia in empowering women and supporting female entrepreneurship. In 2012 she co-founded Scale Investors, Australia’s first seed capital organisation focused on equipping women with education and deal flow opportunities to invest in high growth, early-stage, female-led businesses. Passionate about driving success for women entrepreneurs, Annette is also leads the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ program, an annual growth accelerator for a group of dynamic female entrepreneurs who are founders of the region’s leading high-growth companies.
EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ is a customised leadership development program with year-round activities designed to catalyse their companies’ growth. Share some examples of Australian companies’ achievements as a result of participating in this program.
We have many examples but one that I did want to highlight is Bobbi Mahlab, who was a participant in the inaugural EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women (EWW) Asia-Pacific program in 2015. Bobbi also participated as an alumni at our EWW conferences in Shanghai in 2016, where she presented, and Mumbai in 2017. A true advocate, Bobbi recently commented that the program “has without question influenced my entrepreneurial story.”
According to Bobbi, thanks to the program, the concepts of ‘scale’ and ‘global’ are now part of her mindset, and this rings true in the growth of her business over the last three years. Since joining the program, Bobbi’s Sydney-based content marketing agency now has an advisory board and is working in Asia. In Bobbi’s words, “the program has taken my approach to business out of the local bubble.” In Shanghai for example she learnt about doing business in China. And in Mumbai she learnt about doing business in India. As a result, she was able to experience how different business cultures operate.
For Bobbi, the community being built as a result of the program is significant. Many of the Winning Women stay in contact long after the program finishes, and are often working together, collaborating, or simply connecting. The program has given all our participants a network of like-minded entrepreneurs throughout Asia-Pacific. Bobbi comments “now when I visit Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, China and Malaysia I have people to have dinner with, who can provide introductions and give me insights into local markets.”
Manny Stul, Moose Enterprises was the first-ever Australian to be crowned EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2016. How has Manny’s global recognition helped pave the way for other Australian entrepreneurs?
Manny Stul, Chairman and CEO of Moose Enterprises (Melbourne-based Toy Company) was picked from among 55 country winners vying for the title of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2016. Manny was the judging panel’s choice not only because of the impressive growth he has created but also because the business he has nurtured has shown sustained global success. Manny’s story is serving not just as an inspiration for other Australian Entrepreneurs, but also for entrepreneurs around the world. In fact part of the reason he participated was his desire to motivate other entrepreneurs to “think globally” and focus on innovation.
He has created an amazing global business, despite personal and professional challenges encountered along the way. Moose sells its toys in more than 80 countries, and since winning WEOY, Manny’s business has more than doubled its workforce and continues to experience massive growth. We are all very proud of the result which continues to show the quality of businesses in Australia that are competing and thriving in the globally competitive environment. In June 2017, Manny took part in the World Entrepreneur Of Year awards in Monaco as one of our global judges and was also one of our keynote speakers. In both respects, he was inspirational and had provided wise counsel to the more-than one thousand people attending the forum.
As part of EY’s Accelerating Entrepreneurs Program over 600 people attended the Strategic Growth Forum in Rome in February. How do you facilitate purposeful networking at such a large event so that Australian entrepreneurs can connect with businesses that will drive their international growth?
A key objective of our Accelerating Entrepreneurs (AE) program is to provide a platform for participants to create a network with one another. To achieve this we run a one-day workshop bringing the AEs together immediately prior to the Strategic Growth Forum event to help them network and bond. This also helps them once they join the larger event, as they have a ready-made network they can leverage. A technique we use to achieve this is to have them do an ‘elevator pitch’ about themselves and their business to the rest of the AE group. This is a powerful technique that helps to rapidly bond the group.
We also run private coaching sessions for the entrepreneurs, face to face with a panel. This usually includes an EY professional, a leading corporate executive, and/or an industry specialist and facilitates entry into the panel’s international network. This allows them to do a deep dive with panellists who get to know them and their business better and provides them with global market intelligence and access.
We also give the AEs airtime on stage during a plenary session. This provides participants from larger corporates, venture capitalists or private equity the opportunity to identify who they want to meet with.
Our conference sessions are very diverse. They range from plenary sessions (600 people), breakouts (200-300 people), and breakfast briefings (50-100 people) through to smaller roundtable discussions (12-20 people), luncheons (4-8 people) and private meetings (1-1). Each of these sessions is built around different topics, sectors and business issues, and brings together a different mix of delegates. So each participant is exposed to new contacts and a range of issues meaningful to them.
What has been your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge has not been the usual suspect of balancing work and family. I am blessed with an amazing family support network, including my terrific husband Rod, with whom I have had a true partnership for our entire marriage (of 31 years). We have shared and balanced everything together, including raising two well-adjusted children who are now beginning to make their own marks on the world, and of whom we are immensely proud.
My biggest challenge throughout my career has been dealing with both unconscious and conscious bias permeating the almost-all-male work environments I have found myself working in since 1984. And when I say ‘dealing with’, I don’t just mean in terms of my own career and ambitions. But also championing and helping to pave the way for other women coming through. This continues to be a challenge that I remain firmly committed to addressing every day.
What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?
Stop listening to advice about ‘making it’ as a female leader that suggests all you need is a mentor. Mentors talk to you about what you need to do, when what most women really need are champions. People who talk ABOUT you to others and open doors and their connections . So find champions!