Travelling to an entrepreneur’s paradise – Richard Branson here I come!

In May 2016, I’ve been invited to visit Richard Branson’s ‘entrepreneur’s paradise’—the beautiful Necker Island in the Caribbean. To say I’m honoured, thrilled and incredibly excited is an understatement! 

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is something that I’m extremely proud of. It’s come about after years of hard work growing a business and establishing a second business, all the while juggling the mothering of two young daughters. 

For those of you who don’t know the full story, I launched Manning & Co 8 years ago, when my first daughter, Charlotte, was 12 months old. This was after I found it difficult to return to the Corporate sector. At this time, the industry was heavily male-dominated and a return-to-work mum in a management role working flexible hours was unheard of.

8 years later, my daughter Charlotte is now 9, my second daughter Amelie now 6 and I have grown my business organically to become a full-service strategic marketing consultancy, offering everything from brand strategy to creative design to content marketing and thought leadership.

I have also launched my second venture, Gemstar, a business that was born when it dawned on me that South-East Asia poses huge—and largely untapped—market potential for Australian companies. My vision for Gemstar is to unearth Singapore’s ‘hidden gems’ for Australian startups and techpreneurs, bridging the gap between Australia and the South-East Asian market.

Sure enough, since launching Gemstar in 2013, we’ve successfully hosted two ‘Unearthing Singapore’ Trade Missions, showcasing Australia’s impressive talent and fostering local and regional growth opportunities. We are currently working with a number of local tech companies to accelerate their international expansion.  

Being a serial entrepreneur, as you can see, I’m no stranger to challenging the status quo! Defying the norm, overcoming set-backs, staying focused and being determined to make it happen…this is all part of the entrepreneurial journey that one must go through to unearth amazing opportunities– they don’t just fall in your lap!

Travelling to meet Richard Branson is something that I am both thrilled and nervous about. As a serial entrepreneur, billionaire, philanthropist and founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Air and Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson has long been my hero. He embodies so many qualities that I admire greatly and aspire to achieve every day, such as perseverance, resilience and strength in the face of adversity; and the unwavering and passionate belief that one person can make a difference in the world.  

That’s why when I travel to Necker, I will pitch my third venture, Light Years: a transformational project for disadvantaged young women. I will unveil the Light Years’ brand for the first time—a sneak peek of which has been included in this post!

Although female entrepreneurs around the world are more widely recognised than ever before, there remain significant gaps in education and opportunities for girls and women. In Australia, disadvantaged girls and women—particularly those living in rural or regional areas—are far less likely to finish high school, gain qualifications and enter the workforce. And this is not just an issue confined to Australia. A recent OECD report highlights young disadvantaged women, sometime referred to as NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training—is on the rise, and the gap between young men and young women widening.

Clearly, there’s a pressing need for someone to make a transformational difference in the lives of these women, all while building a social and economic impact globally.

My dream is help spearhead such a movement! My vision is to catapult young women from disadvantaged backgrounds into the workforce, helping them gain the skills and qualifications they need to achieve autonomy, independence and stability in their lives. I want Charlotte and Amelie to grow up in the kind of world where girls and women everywhere can make their dreams come true. 

When I travel to Richard Branson’s Necker Island, I will have an opportunity to pitch this transformative vision. Necker has long been a creative incubator for entrepreneurs across the globe, with stand-out entrepreneurs invited to pitch their ideas to Sir Branson each year.

To be a part of this opportunity has to be one of my career and entrepreneurial highlights to date. I’m deeply humbled by this amazing opportunity, and can’t wait to see what unfolds!

This article was published on Manning & Co Group. Read the article here.