10 female business leaders on the best piece of career advice they've ever received.

Careers. It's something we're all faced with figuring out when we leave school – trying to unpack who we want to be, and what the hell we want to do. 

It's a journey filled with highs, lows, and a lot of learned lessons

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is an award-winning leadership specialist. She said on Mamamia's 8 Minutes To Change Your (Work) Life that learning how to be an effective leader is relevant to anyone wanting to grow their career. Because possessing leadership qualities are fundamental to career growth. 

"In my view, you've got to equally lead with your head and your heart," she said.

Watch: Tony Armstrong on the highs and lows of his career. Post continues below. 

Video via Take 5 With Zan Rowe

"The most common challenge that I see leaders today dealing with is feeling they need to be the smartest person in the room – the responsibility to have all the answers. Being prepared to be vulnerable and ask for help from those you are leading will build trust and make you a much more effective leader in the end." 

With this all in mind, we decided to speak with some of Australia's leading female founders and business leaders.

They shared with Mamamia the golden piece of career advice that helped them on their work journey – and why it changed their career for the better.


Listen to 8 Minutes To Change Your (Work) Life. Post continues after audio.

Jess and Stef Dadon, TWOOBS footwear founders.

"One of the best pieces of business advice we were ever given was by Janine Allis when she told us that having a successful business often means learning how to stick it out through all the hard and boring stuff. And it's been so true for us. 

It was much easier to feel inspired in the beginning when we had a big idea and everything felt exciting and new. Those early days almost feel like a new relationship – you have extra energy because you're running on so much adrenaline and it's hard to focus on anything else. 

"Over the years as things become a lot more mundane, we've watched entrepreneurs around us become disinterested in their project and move onto the next shiniest thing. Probably the smartest thing we've done in our seven years with TWOOBS is just not given up on it – we've ridden high highs and low lows, and not until our sixth year did we really start to hit our stride."

TWOOBS footwear founders Jess and Stef Dadon. Image: Supplied.


Désirée Pascual, Headspace App's global Chief People Officer.

"Firstly, don't stop until you're proud. Always seek purpose and meaning in alignment with who you are, rather than status and power. 

Stay true to who you are throughout your whole career – your power is in your authenticity. As you go, don't let the noise of the world drown out your intuition. Don't fear 'getting it wrong', because every failure is a stepping stone toward a wiser you. Above all, keep learning and growing! Oh yeah... and my career advice to fellow women: "Stop apologising for everything – you deserve that seat at the table!"

Emilee Hembrow, entrepreneur, content creator and co-founder of SSKIN.

"Over the years in business, some great advice I have heard is: a person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new. The lesson I learned from this is that when you face challenges, don't look at them as failures, look at them as your opportunity to learn and grow. 

"There are no dead ends in business, there are lessons along the way and it's how to grow from those lessons that will make you into a better businessperson. Also, find something you are passionate about. When you love the project, with a lot of hard work and dedication you will succeed."


Cushla and Anna Whiting, co-founders of CUSHLA WHITING, an Australian luxurious fine jewellery label.

"It's difficult when you have a small business not to get bogged down with the day-to-day running of things. The best business advice I was given was to try to, no matter how busy you are, always make time to step back and look at the bigger picture. 

It's vital for creativity to find some breathing space away from the chaos – whether this means working from a quiet location once a week, or making sure you take that vacation. I often come up with my best ideas on holiday!" – Cushla Whiting, Creative Director of CUSHLA WHITING.


"When we were first starting the business, I read a book by Seth Godin called The Purple Cow which was all about the importance of the product that you sell in the overall business success. The book was about creating a remarkable product for your demographic. 

Don't try to make something for everyone, think of your demographic and create something truly remarkable for them. This ideology is deeply ingrained in our jewellery with the utmost integrity. From the sourcing of the most remarkable gemstones, both in terms of quality and beauty but also uniqueness, to the highly considered and design and craftsmanship. If you have a truly remarkable product people will find it." – Anna Whiting, General Manager of CUSHLA WHITING.

Prue Cox, LinkedIn's Director Enterprise Sales, South East Asia, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, Marketing Solutions at LinkedIn.

"Career paths aren't always straight and narrow. It's the moments when we take a chance and seize an opportunity, no matter how big or small, that can shape our success. 

These moments can come unexpectedly and may not fit our carefully crafted plans, but embracing them can lead to some of the most fulfilling and rewarding career achievements. 

Keep an eye out for interesting conversations on LinkedIn or when a hobby suddenly intersects with your professional skill set. By staying open-minded, taking risks, and exploring new possibilities, you might just find your next big thing." 

Collette Dinnigan, renowned fashion and interior designer, founder of Collette Dinnigan Store

"Some of the best advice I received was from my good friend and business mentor, Peter Weiss, who was a pioneer in the Australian fashion industry. He reminded me to always be in the business – not always on it. That means talking to the more junior employees of the business to see how they're travelling. 


If these junior employees had clear direction and confidence, his analogy was that the management must be doing a good job as what filters from the top is a pretty good representation of a business's leadership," Collette told Mamamia.

"That was what I loved most – working with the team in any department, hearing what they had to say and what their points of view were and of course what could be improved. Often the quietest voice in the company had some of the most surprising initiatives. So communication on all levels is very important!"

Image: Supplied.


Carolina Giraldo, founder and creative director of Carolina Lifestyle, and an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member. 

"'Run your own race' was the best career advice I ever received, and it came from my Dad. To this day, I have his advice firmly in my mind, influencing and keeping me focused on building Carolina Lifestyle in the way that I want it to grow and develop. 

We focus on doing what we love with dedication, perseverance and passion and when you work with those three ingredients positive results follow. 

We differentiate in the market based on our product's uniqueness and our strengths come from our ability to spot trends, listen to our customers and produce innovative products. We have never found 'comparing' to be a healthy thing to do as it doesn't lead to building a unique offering. We want to 'run our own race'. Love for what we do will hold us in good stead to achieve the best results."

Nikki Kelly, founder of Australian-based, made-to-order, zero-waste jewellery label Kellective By Nikki.

"This maybe sounds like an odd one but I was once told that when you look back on what you were doing a year ago, you should feel a little embarrassed – in a good way! Essentially, you should forever be evolving and improving. 

It's to see where you were 12 months ago and highlight how far you've come since then. I'm a huge believer in continuous improvement – all the very slight changes, lessons or perspective shifts all add up. A lot of one per cent changes over the course of a year makes for a huge 365 per cent improvement."

Ronni Kahn, CEO and founder of OzHarvest.

"The best career advice is always trust your instinct and to find something that brings you joy, but also benefits others. When you do this, the universe replies and hopefully everything falls into place! It certainly did when I started OzHarvest. 


One more thing is always surround yourself with amazing people who inspire you to be your best self!"

What's the best business or career advice you've received? What was your favourite golden piece of advice from these female leaders? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: Instagram @emileehembrow@twoobs@ronni.kahn.