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Women in business – a community of sharing

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Women in business have long been discriminated against in terms of equal pay, equal work, equal status. When it comes to making your mark in the business world, seeking help from the ‘sisterhood’ can inspire, motivate and challenge you to greatness.

This is something that business owner, Leonie Jackson, learnt when she signed up as Mentor for the Australian Business Women’s Network (ABN) MentorNet Program. Co-owner of the successful mortgage broking business, Great Aussie Dream, Jackson has long known the benefits of networking and keen involvement in the community.

“I was very fortunate to have (and still do) peers and mentors that have been willing to give their time, whether to answer questions or provide constructive feedback during the past seven years that I have developed my business,” she says. “I had value to share and it was the right time to give back and help others.

“When someone external to your business highlights your achievements, you realise just how far you have come and the significance of what you have achieved.”

A mentor’s services

Jackson’s role as mentor with ABN involves a six-month commitment to a “pod” of three to four women, where weekly conference calls allow members to work through business topics or participate in webinar events with expert presenters.

“As a mentor, I worked with my pod to answer their questions, provide feedback and follow up on the elements covered within the modules,” she explains.

The most important advice she imparts to her pod is:

  • Blocking out time to work on your business. This, she says, is more important than working in your business.
  • And building a network of business peers to share your wins with and experts who you can call on to improve your business. “My own team consists of business coach, IT team, marketing consultant, accountant and solicitor,” she says.

However, she notes the master became the student. For instance, the social media platforms used by ABN taught Jackson a great deal that she has since incorporated into her own business.

“My background is that of a teacher and it’s not uncommon that the teacher actually learns more than the student – that was definitely the case,” she notes.

Leadership is mentorship

Jackson says her role as Mentor with ABN was just an extension of her role within her business.

“We work with our clients to turn their dreams into reality and the role of Mentor of fellow business women to achieve their dreams was no different, just a different platform – business, rather than property.”

When it comes to women in business, Jackson believes their status is often overlooked or ignored.

“Typically, if a man and woman, both in business attire, walk into a meeting, it will be assumed that it is a manager and his female assistant.”

Through her role in the business and as mentor, she strives to overcome these barriers and encourages others to do the same.

“In my industry, I don’t benefit from any assumed success or status. It’s up to me to let people know who I am and what I’m about,” she says.

“One of the real strengths that women bring to business is their ability to create real connections with their clients,” she says. This is something for which she is grateful.

“My clients share with me their hopes and dreams, I get to help them put their plans into place and then I get to celebrate with them when they all come true.”

When it comes to your role in business, seek out your peers. A woman in business may have a strong voice, but there is unparalleled strength in numbers – hear them roar, they are women in business!

 Important information:This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Tuesday, July 27, 2010

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