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David Jones

At The David Jones Table: Women in Conversation

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on the 8th of March, a recognition of the achievements of women across the world. Beginning in the early 1900s, IWD marks the progress of women’s rights but also reflects on the issues that women still face today. Recognising the need for open dialogue about these issues, David Jones has launched a roundtable series that explores the important topics that face Australian women today.

Produced by award-winning director and producer Janine Hosking, the four 15-minute episodes feature a diverse group of Australia's most influential and inspiring women sharing stories and experiences about subjects like children and motherhood, overcoming adversity, women in the workplace, and having confidence in your fellow women.

Meet the women at the table and a glimpse of what they have to say: 

Gretel Killeen

"One of the things we were raised with is the notion of the Superwoman...and we were meant to be perfect. And it's only now...that it's actually imperfection that draws other people to you." 

A highly accomplished TV presenter, journalist & author, Gretel Killeen is the mediator of the At The Table: Women in Conversation series.

Dr. Libby Weaver

“I’m passionate about making a difference in women’s lives.”

One of Australasia’s leading nutritional biochemists, a seven-time no.1 bestselling author and an international speaker. Dr. Libby Weaver has authored 8 books including best sellers, Accidentally Overweight and Rushing Woman’s Syndrome. Rushing Woman’s Syndrome in particular discusses female hormone based health challenges that are directly related to stress and the pressures of what it means to be a modern woman.

Carla McGrath

“I try and encourage all of our young people to recognise the resilience that is innate within them."

A proud Indigenous Australian woman whose family comes from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, Carla McGrath was the former Head of Sustainability at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in Redfern, Sydney. Carla is a Board Director of Shared Path Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation, a Delegate to the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, and Guardian of The Ventura co-working space for female entrepreneurs.

Fiona O’Loughlin

“The craft of comedy is so powerful ‘cause there’s so much to say and comics are using a lot more pathos than they used to.”

Fiona O'Loughlin is an Australian comedian and mother to 5 children, known for her stand-up comedy and TV appearances on shows such as Spicks and Specks, and Channel Ten's Rove Live and GNW. It was in her mid-30s that Fiona decided to pursue stand-up comedy, moving from Alice Springs to pursue her dream.

Marita Cheng

"What's really important for young girls is that they get out there and they do something, anything, so that they know that they can actually have an impact.”

The current founder & CEO of 2Mar Robotics, Marita Cheng founded Robogals in 2008, for the purpose of encouraging young women into careers in high tech and engineering, which then won her the 2012 Young Australian of the Year. Today, Robogals has taught 45,000 girls from 9 countries Cheng’s robotics workshops across 27 chapters. After graduating from the University of Melbourne with a double degree in mechatronics and computer science, in 2013 Marita established a company to make robotic arms and telepresence robots for people with disabilities.

Lucy Turnbull AO

“When you have a group of interesting and dynamic women coming together around a table, interesting things will always happen.”

An urbanist, businesswoman and philanthropist, Lucy Turnbull AO is currently the Chief Commissioner of the new Greater Sydney Commission, tasked by the NSW state government to assist in delivering strong and effective strategic planning for the whole of metropolitan Sydney. She served as the Lord Mayor of Sydney from 2003 to 2004 (the first woman to hold the position), and in 2011 she became an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the community, local government and business.

Indira Naidoo

"Resilience is really important, because every situation can harm or heal you. You choose which way you’re going to take that onboard.”

An Australian author, journalist and broadcaster, Indira Naidoo has anchored the ABC Weekend news, The 7.30 Report , the National Late Edition News and hosted the SBS News’ Late News for three years. Indira is also an advocate for environmentalism and consumer rights including working as a communications consultant to the United Nations trade arm in Geneva, and  has authored two books on urban farming: The Edible Balcony & The Edible City.

Lisa Wilkinson

“As women we do have a tendency to have an internal dialogue that tends towards the negative…and have a tendency to check and just make sure we are still good enough.”

An Australian journalist and co-host of the Nine Network's breakfast television program TODAY Show. At age 21, Lisa was the youngest ever Editor of magazine Dolly – after four years she went on to edit Cleo eventually becoming the International Editor-In-Chief. Lisa is also the Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post Australia and mother to three children.

Edwina McCann

“My mother encouraged a sense of personal style…and maybe all that self-expression leads you to a place where you can be confident to express yourself.”

Edwina McCann is currently the editor-in-chief of Vogue Australia, after having worked at The Australian and Grazia, then joined Harper’s Bazaar Australia as editor-in-chief. In 2012, Edwina was headhunted to lead Vogue Australia and in 2015 she topped B&T’s list of ‘Australia’s 30 Most Powerful Women in Media’.

Donna Player

"My husband is the primary caregiver who gets our child ready for school, cooks the meals...so I'm in a position of privilege that I can then devote my time to my career. I'm very lucky to have someone who's a great support and encourages the work that I do."

Director of Merchandise at David Jones, accountable for the development and delivery of the merchandise strategy across fashion, beauty and home. Donna has more than 30 years of merchandising experience and is a thought leader within the retail industry as well as an advocate for the Australian fashion industry.

Jesinta Campbell

"You just gotta do you. That's always my advice to any woman."

Recently announced as a David Jones Ambassador, model and TV Presenter Jesinta Campbell won Miss Universe Australia, and went on to place 2nd Runner Up at the Miss Universe competition. Jesinta is increasingly becoming known as an advocator for various issues and campaigns, including mental health issues and indigenous rights.

Christine Manfield

"I'd like to see women take on leadership positions. It's not until women take on those positions that we're actually going to change the status quo."

A highly regarded Australian chef, Christine Manfield has published ten books and has written food columns and travel features for Australian newspapers and magazines. Christine is passionate about her philanthropic work, supporting the Cathy Freeman Foundation, acting as an ambassador for various charitable organisations and campaigns like Oz Harvest and Artisans of Fashion. Recently, Christine was chosen as one of Australia’s ambassadors for Amnesty International’s ‘A Taste of Freedom’ national campaign.

Sheree Commerford

"Personal style..[allows] you to be whoever you want and you don't have to be defined. It's your voice."

A stylist and creative, Sheree Commerford celebrates family style inspired by life, travel and small folk in her blog, Captain & The Gypsy Kid. Sheree has over 54K followers and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in Australia bringing her unique style and creative genius to well-loved brands.

Mary Coustas

"The only thing you can do is find out who you are and how you cope with it...and you don't know what you can tolerate until you've tested yourself."

An award winning Australian actress, comedian, television personality and author, Mary Coustas' much loved TV character "Effie" has been part of the Australian cultural landscape for well over 2 decades. Mary has publicly spoken about tragic loss of her still-born daughter Stevie in 2011 after many years of trying to become a mother. On her 23rd IVF attempt Mary fell pregnant and in Nov 2013 her healthy and beautiful daughter Jamie was born. Mary's heartbreaking journey and final victory has touched the hearts of the nation. Her fearless honesty and "nothing good comes from giving up" attitude has been an inspiration to many.

Vanessa Fennell

"We need to provide tools for both male and female to cope with building self-esteem, to understand how self-esteem is so core to your future and your self-confidence, and your building of great relationships."

Born, raised and educated in South Africa, Vanessa Fennell has held senior sales director roles at Macquarie Group, UBS Funds Management, and the Milestone Group. Married with two young children, Vanessa took a sabbatical in December of 2014 after the tragic loss of her  3rd child, 11 month old daughter Sibella, to mitochondrial disease. Her primary focus now is her family and her philanthropic activity with Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick and Murdoch Children's Research Foundation, Melbourne.

Kellie Hush

"I'm a breast cancer survivor and I think it's really important to talk about women's health and do a lot of charity work. Since having breast cancer, it's been my goal that any extra time that I do have I give back to the community."

The editor-in-chief of Harper’s BAZAAR Australia since July 2012, Kellie Hush built her career in fashion media, working as the former editor of GRAZIA magazine and fashion editor of The Sydney Morning Herald. Kellie is a highly regarded fashion and retail commentator in Australia and internationally. Currently, Kellie is deputy chair of the Australian Fashion Chamber and a judge for the International Woolmark Prize and a director on The Royal Hospital for Women Foundation board.

Jessica Rowe AM

"We do forget the enormous gains that's been made and there's so much we take for granted...women are still not paid equally, and there's so many different parts of the world where women are still not allowed to vote, to travel, to go to school."

Co-host of Network Ten’s morning chat show Studio 10, Jessica Rowe is a three-time bestselling author and an honoured recipient of the Member of the Order of Australia for her work in mental health advocacy and media. Her career in media and journalism spans over twenty years and during this time Jessica has been a news presenter on First At Five (Network Ten), a co-host on The Today Show (Nine Network) and news presenter on Weekend Sunrise (Seven Network). Jessica is married to Peter Overton and together they have two young girls.

Lisa Messenger

"Through the Collective Hub...If I can use myself as a conduit to deal with a whole lot of issues, be it mental illness or all sorts of other things, then that's my passion."

Founder & Editor in Chief of the Collective Hub, Lisa Messenger started her business life in sponsorship and events before she expanded to PR and book publishing. In 2013, with a strong sense of purpose and her entrepreneurial spirit firing, she launched Collective Hub. Under her leadership, it has grown rapidly into a multi-media brand to more than 30 countries, has defied the odds of the print magazine industry and along the way, has created a community of like-minded, driven, talented and inspired human beings.

Jacqui Lewis

"Learning I can do it all on my own was really, really important."

An educator, facilitator, author and speaker as the Co-Founder of The Broad Place; a School for Clarity, Creativity & Consciousness. Jacqui teaches Vedic Meditation worldwide, and runs a host of workshops, retreats and talks centred around tools and practices for better, more integrated and fulfilling modern living.  Together with her husband and business partner Arran Russell, Jacqui launched The Broad Place in 2013 which is a multi-faceted brand based around modern wellbeing.

About the producer

Janine Hosking

Walkley Award winning Director/Producer, Janine Hosking’s career highlights include producing and directing the feature documentaries ‘My Khmer Heart’ and “Ganja Queen” for HBO and having ‘Mademoiselle and the Doctor’ screen to critical acclaim at both Australian and international film festivals. She also directed  a five-part series on the Australian War Memorial for Foxtel’s History Channel. Her most recent documentary, “35 Letters” won Best documentary at the Sydney Film Festival.

Watch all the episodes of the 'At The David Jones Table: Women in Conversation' series.

Take part in the conversation and follow #womeninconversation and @DavidJonesStore on Twitter and Facebook.