Igniting your future: Australia-Korea Women in Leadership Event – Melbourne RECAP 

The Australia-Korea Business Council (AKBC) hosted the second Australia-Korea Women in Leadership Lunch at Deakin Downtown in Melbourne on Thursday 7 April, following the success of the inaugural leadership lunch in Sydney on 24 March. The event was MC’d by AKBC’s Executive Director, Liz Griffin. 

The AKBC was delighted to host this event to coincide with the Victorian Government hosting of five female journalists from the Korean Women’s Journalist Association (KWJA). The purpose of the visit was to showcase Victoria’s capabilities in medtech and biotech, while highlighting female leadership in the sector and more broadly. The AKBC again thanks our major sponsors Australia-Korea Foundation and Deakin University for making this event possible. 

Opening the event, H.E. Catherine Raper, Australia’s first female Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, spoke on her position and changing the status quo when it comes to the representation of female leaders at high level, executive meetings in Korea. H.E Catherine Raper’s words of confidence, self-belief, and the importance of a good mentor as keys to success were further echoed as important themes by the fellow speakers throughout the event.

Welcoming the guests in person, Ms. Genevieve Reid, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Deakin University shared a few words on Deakin University’s deepening connection with the AKBC as well as its new research partnership with Hanwha Defense Australia, as it seeks to play a pivotal role in growing trade and investment relationship between Australia and Korea. 

Kicking off presentations, Ms. Millie Keating, Industrial Development Unit Manager at Hanhwa Defense Australia shared her insights on rising to a position of leadership within a male dominated industry. With more than 10 years’ of experience, she shared her personal journey in the defence sector and the importance of mutual understanding for successful cross-cultural communication. Drawing upon an example of having four females in an Australian delegation of 18 industry representatives matched with an all-male Korean audience, she emphasised that women must be represented in cross-collaborations in order to cultivate more women in leadership across the board. Ms Keating also shared the importance of being curious (seeking to understand why), having confidence in your own ability to succeed, and being adaptable in order to thrive in the workplace. She left women leaders with an inspiring quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: “A woman is like a teabag. You don’t know how strong she is until you put her in hot water,” bringing attention to the significant growth potential that comes with taking on challenges outside one’s comfort zone. 

Ms. Kaitlyn Hyunjoo Shin drew upon her extensive experiences across 16 countries and a career in the tech and IT industry spanning across 24 years. Inspired early on in her career by two female team leaders in an office of 16 managers, Shin shed light on the crucial role that female leaders play as role models and mentors that cultivate the next generation of female leaders. Echoing Ms Keating, Ms Shin encouraged women to have belief in their own abilities, especially in saying ‘yes’ to things outside of their comfort zones in order to advance themselves. Additionally, Shin emphasised the need for a greater belief in other womens’ abilities, supporting their careers, and celebrating the successes of women in leadership. As a recognised leader in the community, Shin mentors young people seeking to work in the Australia-Korea corridor and encourages leaders of all genders to give back through mentoring and guiding their younger peers.

Ms. Jae-Woo Shin, Senior Editor for Yonhap News Agency was one of the five visiting delegates from the KWJA and has extensive experience covering politics, social issues, and medical science in Korea. Ms Shin offered her perspectives on gender equality in Korea and Australia, observing policies that Korea could adopt to improve work-life balance and flexibility. Shin recognised the continued challenges and existing barriers to womens’ empowerment in Korea, and noted that dialogue surrounding this issue has been raised as a broader social issue in recent times. Through this visit and subsequent media coverage, Ms Shin was hopeful that an outcome of this visit and resulting media coverage is to convey case studies of Australian women in leadership positions, using this to positively influence female leaders in Korea, as well as encouraging stronger connections between the two countries.

Ms. Sara Sahely, Director of Global Engagement Victoria closed the event with a summary of key learnings and insights from each of the panellists. Ms Sahely also brought awareness to the Global Victoria Women Initiative, an initiative designed to increase the participation rates of women in international business and trade. She finished by congratulating the AKBC on the success of this event and the important role that these events play in contributing to the increased presence of women in international missions while also thanking the speakers for the diversity and strength of their stories. 


The AKBC was delighted to host and share this valuable initiative with our AKBC members and wider network, and to provide a platform for women excelling in Australian-Korean relations to share their expertise and pave the way for the next generation of leaders. Please stay updated with AKBC’s events for an upcoming announcement on the final event in this series, hosted in Brisbane.

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Australia Korea Business Council
PO Box 24430
Melbourne, Vic 3001 Australia
Liz Griffin – Executive Director

The Australia-Korea Business Council is the leading national body committed to strengthening the Australia-Korea economic relationship.