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World class player in the Indonesian digital economy

Telstra Business Women's Awards

Posted on October 21, 2016

4 min read

This year, we are thrilled to be extending the Telstra Business Women’s Awards into Asia. To celebrate, Charlene Leung, Communications Manager, North Asia, Telstra, caught up with some of the finalists. This week she chats with Shinta Witoyo Dhanuwardoyo, founder and CEO of, a serial tech entrepreneur and start-up mentor from Indonesia.

Twenty years ago in Indonesia, internet penetration was only 0.1%[1]. Today, it’s predicted that the country will house half of Southeast Asia’s e-commerce in the next ten years – so naturally everyone is eyeing the opportunities in Indonesia’s digital economy.

Changes in Indonesia’s technology landscape have been huge in the past 20 years. In the era of evolution, passion and persistence are what people need to be successful. Shinta Witoyo Dhanuwardoyo, a serial tech entrepreneur and start-up mentor from Indonesia, has it all.

With her passion for shaping and developing the tech landscape of Indonesia, Shinta has pioneered a plethora of companies during her 20 years in the tech industry, including one of the first internet companies in the country, was founded in 1996 by Shinta as a web design agency, and later evolved into a full-service digital creative agency as Indonesia experienced technology advancement. Currently it provides services such as digital integrated campaign, web and mobile design services, and digital and social media strategy.

Manchester United Football Club was’s first international client. The club hired Shinta’s team to handle the Malaysian and Indonesian social media accounts.

Shinta remembers: “The client had set my team a goal of achieving 30,000 new followers within a month. We achieved it within one day of opening the accounts.” She believes that quick execution of ideas, thinking outside the box and being creative were what made them succeed. This is always how she leads her team to work.

Looking beyond her own company, Shinta has a vision to put Indonesia on the global digital map and develop the country’s digital economy.

One of her contributions to this is the Bubu Awards, which she founded in 2001 to honour web design and digital campaigns. The event has since become a three-day event workshop, conference and exhibition called IDByte. It is attended by digital industry heavyweights such as Google and Facebook.

Shinta is also a strong supporter of startups around Indonesia. For the last two years, IDByte has held Startup Hunt across four cities in Indonesia, in search for the best startup in the country.

“What makes the hunt worthwhile is finding winners who are incredibly talented and hard-working entrepreneurs. One of the prizes of the program is a mentorship with me. As their mentor, I’m always proud to see their growth and relentless effort to become a world-class startup.”

“The experience of both success and failure has made me a true entrepreneur at heart and I share with others my ability to create strategies and set short and long-term goals,” she says.

Giving her mentees honest and direct feedback is important to her and she doesn’t hesitate to tell them when she thinks an idea may or may not work.

Shinta’s footprint is not limited to the Southeast Asian tech industry. She co-founded Silicon Valley Asia Technology Alliance, a non-profit company based in San Francisco to connect the flow of ideas, exchange and collaborations of the tech industry in the region, with Silicon Valley. Earlier this year, she also co-founded, a US-based comprehensive database of venture capitalists who are seeking viable startups to fund and bridge the gap between VCs and innovative start-ups.

Outside of these roles, Shinta is also on the board of advisors of the The Nature Conservancy Indonesia, which, she says, pushes her to think more about how people impact the environment.

Talking about her business success, she prides herself for her three core values: integrity, tenacity and hard work. She has always put in effort to achieve her goals and when faced with challenges, she pivots and adapts.

Shinta says that if she won the 2016 Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award, she would use it to inspire others, especially aspiring women tech entrepreneurs.

“In this day and age, women should no longer be afraid or lack confidence in pursuing a career in a traditionally male-dominated field. I believe that your gender should not matter, when it comes to success. It’s all about your actions and execution,” she says.

Shinta is one of seven inaugural finalists for the Telstra Business Woman in Asia category; the winner will be announced on Wednesday 16 November in Melbourne.

For more information on the Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award or to nominate brilliant business women for the 2017 Awards, visit


5 minutes with Yahoo7’s CFO

Telstra Business Women's Awards

Posted on June 14, 2016

4 min read

Penny Diamantakiou, CFO / HR Director of Yahoo7, and 2015 Telstra NSW Business Women’s Award winner (Corporate & Private), has a real passion for the company she joined four years ago. She shares her insights for cultivating positive workplace culture, explains the power of mentorship and shares the lessons she’s learned.

On working with Millennials

With many of Yahoo7’s people in their 20s and 30s, Penny says it is important to create the right environment to continuously bounce ideas off each other.

“Millennials bring creativity, digital savviness and energy to the workplace.  Working with colleagues of that generation and with those skills allows you to understand what makes them tick on both professional and personal levels,” she says.

“Our organisation is principally innovation-led, so we are constantly looking to cultivate ideas and creativity. There is a lot of vibrancy and dynamism in the organisation, and our Millennials are a big contributor to that.”

“Similarly, great ideas come from anywhere in the organisation and from every generation, and we’ve worked hard to create an environment where a diverse mix of people can excel.”

On mentoring and role models

As a leader, Penny recognises the importance of mentoring for all professionals across the organisation.

“Our people were keen to create a conversation with our leaders so we created a place for them to exchange openly and transparently within the organisation.

“We were also keen to recognise and encourage emerging female leaders and talent. We have developed a program that provides the foundations for grounding and development as they progress through their corporate life within the company.”

Mentoring works both ways, with Penny finding inspiration from Rose Tsou, Yahoo7’s Senior Vice President for Asia Pacific and Chairman in Australia and New Zealand.

“She is a fantastic role model. She is inspiring and knowledgeable. She has a great energy and we always feel so fortunate when we have the chance to speak to her face to face. It goes beyond the fact that she is a woman; she is a highly talented executive professional.”

On lessons learned

Throughout her journey to the top, Penny has met hurdles and victories. In this time, she has also observed many changes and experienced what she describes as the ‘Predictably Unpredictable’.

She has learnt from this and shares four key insights for other executives:

  • Create the opportunity – Don’t wait to be tapped on the shoulder for that next big role. If there is an opportunity for you to progress within or outside of your company, take the first step and create that conversation.
  • Acknowledge your shortcomings – Take feedback on board constructively. Reflect on how you can re-point yourself and take in the nuances of each situation.
  • Failure goes hand-in-hand with leadership – Be prepared to fail, and keep objective in your opinion, without impacting the rest of your colleagues.
  • Reinvent yourself continuously – Think about the leader you want to become and work towards that day by day. Don’t let the small stuff distract you from your ultimate goal.

On recognition

Since winning the 2015 Telstra NSW Corporate & Private Award, Penny feels that she has become even more of a role model for people within and outside her organisation.

“Being recognised in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards made me evaluate even more so the impact that my leadership style has on those around me.”

The Telstra Business Women’s Awards celebrate successful business women and for the first time this year include a category to recognise business women in Asia.

If you, or a brilliant business woman you know, deserve recognition, nominate today. Entries are now open and close on 20th June.
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What’s on our winter reading list

featured Telstra Business Women's Awards

Posted on June 8, 2016

5 min read

Between busy work and home schedules picking up a book or reading an e-book is a pastime that often gets neglected, but taking a half hour out of the day to read can be relaxing, inspiring and provide a much needed chance to reflect.

Doug MacDougall caught up with some of our Telstra Business Women’s Award Alumni  to see what type of reader they are and get their recommendations on what we should be reading for personal and professional success.

The career-inspired reader

Jerril Rechter, 2015 Telstra VIC Business Women’s Award Winner (Government and Academia)

CEO of VicHealth, Jerril Rechter, who has held extensive leadership positions in the government and not-for-profit sector, is also an avid reader and gets many of her professional ideas from recent books she read.

Jerril says that upon starting her first CEO job she was given a book called Right from the Start by Dan Ciampa, which provides tactical advice for leaders to help ensure that the first steps in a new job will lead to enduring success.

“This book gives useful tips on how to work with boards, leadership advice and also makes you think about how to set a strong and clear action plan when starting at a new organisation,” Jerril says.

Leadership and innovation of the 21st Century is also of great interest to Jerril. She found Inside the Nudge Unit by David Halpern fascinating.

“David’s book gave me great insight into the importance of innovation and thinking outside the box when it comes making structural changes. David highlights that small changes can make a big difference when trying to alter behavioural patterns,” Jerril says.

The academic reader

Jo Whitear, 2015 Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards Finalist (Entrepreneur)  

Jo Whitear is the face behind the Canberra Reading Clinic, a clinic that teaches children specialised reading skills one-on-one. Jo believes that reading is a fundamental part of a child’s learning and one that should be approached strategically. As for her own reading habits, she likes to read academic journals that are directly related to her line of work.

“I am part of several reading research networks that post scholarly articles online about the science of spelling,” Jo says.

As she is constantly trying to broaden her knowledge of the education industry she often finds herself with a book or journal in hand about the evolution of reading.

Proust and the Squid, by Maryanne Wolf, is an entire book on how humans learnt to read. It suggests that reading is a human invention that reflects that the brain rearranges itself to learn something new.

“Human beings aren’t born knowing how to read but we do it very proficiently, it makes us wonder what else we’re capable of that we haven’t tried yet, suggesting profound implications for the human development of our species.

“I have taken a lot of Maryanne’s theories on board and applied them to my own business. For example, I teach all my students to read with a phonics-based approach, which means sounding out letters to form a word,” says Jo.

The novel advocate

Felicite Black, 2015 Telstra WA Business Women’s Award Finalist (For Purpose and Social Enterprise)

Felicite Black is the manager of the Health Services Projects at St John Ambulance has worked in extensive leadership roles in the healthcare industry for a number of years and despite having long, busy days always makes time for reading. Although Felicite reads a lot for work, when she reads for pleasure she likes to indulge in pure fiction, and her genre of choice is historical fiction.

The Cousins War, by Philippa Gregory, taught me a lot about how women have learnt to overcome the constraints of their gender throughout history.

“The series focuses on the wives of powerful kings, such as Henry the Vlll, and how these women were able to find alternative means to power, even though they weren’t in traditionally powerful or authoritative roles,” says Felicite.

Felicite says that some of her best leadership ideas have come from reading historical fiction like Philippa Gregory’s series because it gives a different perspective.

“Whilst working at Youth Focus, an organisation that helps young people and their families to deal with mental health issues, I found that there were empowering lessons to be learnt from The Cousins War series that could be applied to some of the young people I was working with.

Like the women from these stories, some of these youths lacked confidence but it was just a matter of finding an alternative path to help them find happiness,” says Felicite.

So whether it be a book on leadership, a novel or an academic journal picking up a book over the weekend can be rewarding in more ways than you might imagine. Many associate reading as simply a hobby but our Telstra Business Women’s Awards Alumni highlight that reading can also give useful insights that can be applied to one’s professional life.

And if you know an incredible business woman who deserves to be recognised for her achievements (it might even be you?), please nominate her now.

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Finding your business story

Business and Enterprise

Posted on May 17, 2016

3 min read

We all have a story that is the foundation of our own personal plan for future growth – but some of us have trouble articulating it, writes Kate McKenzie.

It isn’t until we’re asked the right questions that we begin to see our achievements for what they are and identify the common themes that underlie them.

Romilly Madew, CEO of the Green Building Council of Australia, found her voice after winning the 2009 Telstra Business Women’s Community & Government Award and has used it to leverage further success.

In an interview recently she said: “People wanted to hear why networking mattered, why mentoring mattered, why speaking at conferences mattered, why leaning in mattered, and why making sure you participate and sit on a committee mattered. I realised that I could put a narrative around all the things I’d done.”

Once she found her voice, speaking invitations came in droves and not just about her area of expertise: sustainable property and construction development.

“Winning allowed me to talk about flexible workplaces, and about diversity in the workplace. It gave me a voice – and boy, have I used it.”

Humility can hold women back. You would be amazed at the number of really senior women who are incredibly successful in their endeavours, who have never taken time out to reflect on their story.

For Madew, it was the entire Awards process that helped her find her voice; from drafting a winning entry and meeting a panel of judges, through to networking with other women and speaking publicly. The various steps from entering to winning, and the recognition that came after that, have made her reflect on her career trajectory and find her story.

But anyone can articulate their implicit narrative with the right support. Start by taking the following steps:

  • Ask yourself: ‘What makes me get out of bed in the morning?’
  • Write down the most impactful experiences of your career – the successes and the failures.
  • Reflect on what’s common about them; have they been about teamwork, a quest for international expansion, driven by specific values?
  • Draw out the common thread or the narrative that is implicitly guiding you
  • Engage a mentor, colleagues, and even sound it out with other people to flesh out the story.

And if you know an incredible business woman who deserves to be recognised for her achievements (it might even be you?), please nominate her now:

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* Kate McKenzie is Telstra’s Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador. Romilly Madew’s quotes first appeared in the article ‘Boosting women up the ladder’ in The Australian in 3 December 2015.

Celebrating working mums on Mothers’ Day

Telstra Business Women's Awards

Posted on May 4, 2016

4 min read

Zillah Paradisis, a Senior Communications Advisor, admits that she sometimes struggles with the juggling act required to be a working mum (with two lively boys under 7), so she decided it was time for some research.

During a recent exhausting period at both work and home I was buoyed to read a study by Ernst & Young, where it claimed that women working part-time (like myself) are the most productive in the workforce, ahead of any full-time employee and ahead of men working part-time.

That’s great news, but I still sometimes don’t get how other mums do it, so I decided to see what answers I could get to the most asked (by me at least) questions from some Telstra Business Women’s Awards alumni who seem to do it all so well.

Finding the work-life balance

Harriet Warlow-Shill is managing partner at KWS Legal, a finalist in the 2014 Telstra Business Women’s Awards, and mother of five children ranging in ages from 10 weeks to 13 years old.

She understands the struggle to achieve excellence in an intensive profession while still being attuned to her children’s needs.

“I always block time out for my kids’ activities and I can usually make it. However the downside of that is that I will need to make up time at night or later.”

She cautions that any privileges provided by a workplace shouldn’t be abused.

“Working mothers must also understand that flexibility works both ways; if they are entrusted with flexibility they should honour it and make sure they make up the time or work unorthodox hours.”

Carolyn Creswell, Founder of Carman’s Fine Foods, 2012 Telstra Business Australian Business Woman of the Year, running her own business and raising four children aged five to eleven, thinks that she has found a genuine work-life balance by being realistic with her expectations.

“Prioritising is what makes it work for me. I don’t waste time when I’m at the office; I’m efficient so that my weekends can be dedicated to my family.

“But I also think that it is okay to miss some things, you can’t be there all the time. I often get my husband to video-record the event I’m missing and watch it later on with the children.”

Children, career or home?

Like the old project management triangle, in which you can have only two out of the three options, ‘good, fast or cheap’, Warlow-Shill, says parents can’t have it all.

“I believe you can only do two out of three well. Children and your co-workers care that you are there for them. The carpet doesn’t care who vacuums it. So my advice is to get household help. Leave it to someone else, and focus your efforts in both other areas.”

Creswell agrees that housework is at the bottom of the priority list. “Get someone else to do the mopping, and spend some quality time with your kids instead.”

When it isn’t easy

Warlow-Shill says working parents can save some grief by being kind to themselves.

“When women think about combining family and career, they assume that it will run quite smoothly. They have to be prepared that, sometimes, it doesn’t quite go as planned. It becomes difficult when kids have health issues that require your full attention.”

Creswell agrees that women shouldn’t be so hard on themselves.

“Be kind to yourself. It isn’t easy but chance is that your employer understands what you’re going through, and if they don’t, it’s time to speak up.”

Both women say it is possible to be productive at work and present for their children.

“A grumpy mother or a grumpy boss are both really damaging.  To maintain a positive attitude I do take time out for myself to do things I enjoy,” says Warlow-Shill.

“At the end of the day, the greatest contribution I can make to both my family and professional life is to be happy and excited to be a working mum.”

So what did I get from all this?

There is always going to be competing interests between work and family. It’s important to remember though that these are not unique just to mums and that just because a kid is sick, that it shouldn’t have to always fall on the mum. While we will always want to be there, it’s just as important that we get help from our support networks, whether that be a husband, partner or friends and family.

Do you know an incredible business woman who deserves to be recognised for her achievements? Nominate her now for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards:

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