Getting the Next Generation Started

Written by Mary Lieu on the 23rd of December, 2016

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“The simple act of telling stories can have a really profound effect on people and how communities are built. Seeing other women managing the different demands helps young women to build confidence and inspires them. It’s hugely important.” – Anne Ward.


The numerous inspirational quotes floating around Facebook and Instagram serve as constant reminders that we have the same hours in a day as Beyonce, encouraging us to go for gold and never give up. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

Earlier this year, we spoke to Anne Ward, Non-Executive Director at MYOB,  about the powerful influence role models wield in reaffirming and changing our perceptions of what is achievable.

Consider startups and entrepreneurship. Take away the household names (Musk, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Sandberg) and you can find role models everywhere. They’re the entrepreneurs who are passionate about solving a problem for others, and the changemakers who want to increase access, support and opportunities so more can take this path.  

Hearing about the experiences of people who are paving their own paths to building global, impactful businesses, or climbing career ladders and smashing through ceilings is inspiring, to say the least. The stories and actions of others can inspire our own. Most importantly, they can also inspire our youth.


Photographed by: Ernita Siregar | Nikita Nagesh, Mary Lieu, Codie Haycraft, Megha Nagaraj & Madeleine Dunne.


At our SheStarts Showcase event earlier this month, we invited a group of young women to join us, forming the ‘Next Gen SheStarts Crew.’ Ranging in age from their mid-teens to early 20s, Sarah, Tamila, Megha, Madeleine and Codie were our insiders on the night, meeting and interviewing guests and finalists. Codie Haycraft, Megha Nagaraj and Madeleine Dunne, the youngest members of the Next Gen Crew, shared their thoughts and what being there meant to them.

“I went into this evening not knowing much about SheStarts, but it was admittedly one of the most inspiring events I have been to in my life,” said Madeleine.

“Sitting and watching the presentations, it amazed me how confident and driven all these women were. They had taken a chance and believed in themselves that their ideas were good enough, and had gotten themselves to this point.”

Madeleine was particularly struck by two of the startups selected into SheStarts: AudiBle and Shark Share Global. She explained that when the ideas were put in front of her, she could clearly understand the need for these solutions, which is why she really liked them.

As for Megha, her favourite part of the night was when she and the Next Gen Crew interviewed the finalists.

“One questions I asked was what their favourite thing about SheStarts is, and one entrepreneur replied that they love that it is a safe place for all of them to express their ideas and collaborate with others.”

“Talking to the entrepreneurs and discovering their different stories really inspired me. It was so interesting to follow the entrepreneurs’ journeys of how they came about their ideas!” she said. 

For Codie, it was an “incredible” experience watching her aunt Nicola Hazell, SheStarts director, up on the stage.

“Seeing her doing what she loves best made me emotional. Being able to be there, witnessing this and being a part of the event with her was a dream come true.”


During the Showcase, we also held a panel discussion with Lucy Turnbull AO (Chair of Greater Sydney Commission), Sally-Ann Williams (Google), Mikaela Jade (Indigital) and Sarah Mak (TheStoryBoxes & Folktale). This was Codie’s favourite part of the night.

“Hearing about Mikaela Jade’s experiences was eye-opening. She said: ‘I’m Indigenous, I’m female, I operate a tech company in regional Australia, and investors said I was high risk,’” Codie quoted.

“But she still pushed through. These women are role models for the younger girls in our community, especially me.”

Codie then went on to explain that being at the event gave her further insight into the SheStarts program and beyond that, the perspectives people in the community held around gender equality and women in tech.

“Mostly I just hear what celebrities and my school peers think about equality, never adults who are trying to make a difference. So I was very grateful to hear people talk about it” she added.

It inspired me to believe that anything I want to create, and anything I want to do, I can.”“Being a part of this event has given me a look at what I can do, how I can change the world and how I can be a vital voice in the tech industry.”

Madeleine agreed with Codie’s sentiments.

“The event really opened my eyes to the need for female entrepreneurs in the startup industry. It inspired me to believe that anything I want to create, and anything I want to do, I can.”