5 Women shaping culture for a more balanced future

Culture doesn’t just happen; it’s a complex ecosystem of varying beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviours all developed and shared by a group of people. It is grown and embedded in our social systems until it becomes somewhat fixed over time. To shift culture, to change thoughts and opinions so they stick for the better, is an enormous task. To shape it so that generations to come might benefit is an entire journey.


So, it is both with honour and awe that in the sun of this year’s IWD 2019 theme #balanceforbetter, we introduce you to the 5 women below, who through sheer determination, ingenuity and passion, are shaping culture for a more balanced future.




Erika Geraerts is as real as they come. Smart, witty and determined to revolutionize the beauty industry, and change our personal relationships with makeup, through her new cosmetics company Fluff. You might recognise Erika as one of the co-founder’s of skincare company, Frank Body, the brand that undoubtedly paved the way for a string of irreverent, voice-driven products made successful through social media.


After exiting from Frank Body, Erika felt the beauty industry was missing a sense of responsibility for the impact it was having on young women. As someone that’s no stranger to changing the cultural narrative, she set out to create Fluff in order to steer the conversation in a more transparent and healthy way.  


“At Fluff, we believe in this idea of made up, not made up. Which means that makeup is great, but it’s not necessary. And that it’s ok to get a little made up, so long as you’re still you, and not defined by the products you put on your face. We want to convey the idea that this is all fluff: advertising, marketing, consumerism, makeup etc. But that doesn’t mean we have to escape it. We just need to be aware of it. In this awareness lies a balanced future.”




Fenella Kernebone can best be described as a critical thinker that is insatiably curious about people, the world and the shifting culture around us. She needs little introduction, but as the Head of Curation for TEDxSydney, she’s responsible for leading the programming for what is deemed one of the largest TEDx events in the world.


As charismatic and intelligent in person as she is on stage, Fenella devotes her time to finding some of the greatest minds, creators, innovators and performers so that the wider public might have access to the ideas that will likely contribute to our collective rhetoric and future.


Fenella is a noted television and radio presenter and producer and has hosted radio and television shows on ABC TV, SBS TV, RN, Triple J, podcasts such as It’s a Long Story for Sydney Opera House Podcast and the TEDxSydney Live stream and Adventure Series. She is also the host of Lumina, a new podcast for AFTRS that launched on 7th November, 2018  about how tech innovations challenge and shape the way we share stories.




We are entering a whole new era when it comes to the definition of ‘work’ and Laura Roberts is at the forefront. Managing Director of the fast-growing APAC arm of the live brand storytelling agency INVNT, Laura is passionate about breaking down traditional expectations of what it means when we say ‘work life balance’.


As a working mum with two kids under five, Laura recognises that different people thrive in different environments with varying routines, and often perform best when given the opportunity to design their own day. With a goal to create a culture that continues to inspire and empower employees while giving them a personal say in their working lives, Laura passionately advocates for INVNT’s global approach to flexible working, and implements it on a local scale.  


“Our tribe members are most productive and satisfied with their work when they are empowered, and flexible working hours and a vibrant internal culture where everyone is encouraged to collaborate and have their say fosters that environment, ” she explains.   


Laura has lived and breathed live events for the last 15 years. During her six-year stint in New York she worked on the technical, staging and management of concerts for major artists such as The Rolling Stones, and produced events for a range of FMCG and pharmaceutical brands. She has also delivered large-scale festivals and celebrations for government departments, including Lights On as part of Vivid Sydney, and produced B2B and consumer meetings, events and exhibitions for major hotel and IT brands throughout both Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.




Paige Aubort is a force to be aligned with when it comes to the hospitality industry. The  award-winning bartender and founder of Coleman’s Academy – an initiative that focuses on empowering and supporting women in the hospitality industry – is unrelenting when it comes to gender disparity and changing the dynamics in this traditionally male dominated field.


“Our industries culture needs to evolve to represent the diverse and brilliant people that toil day in and day out. That give a piece of themselves everyday they step onto the floor or behind the bar, to provide a service and continue to remain unseen and unheard,” explains Paige.


Paige brings some of hospitality’s most inspiring women to speak at her monthly Coleman’s Academy events held across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and hopes to see it grow and contribute to the wider conversation of the underrepresentation of women in male-dominated industries.


Among strings of highly acclaimed industry awards including Bartender of the Year, Paige has also been listed in the Forbes 30under30 list for Asia in the Arts category for her work.




Bronnie Mackintosh is a station officer with Fire and Rescue NSW and has been a firefighter for over 16 years. Her career has encompassed many roles, spanning general firefighting, rescue, operational communications, community safety, and education and training.


At last year’s TEDxSydney, the Winston Churchill Fellowship recipient explained that a more diverse Fire and Rescue workforce – one that truly reflects the society we live in – is vital for our overall safety.


“We are more effective in public safety when we look, speak & think like you,” she explained.


But changing the conversation and culture within a fixed-culture industry isn’t simple. Bronnie has travelled the world to research how international fire agencies are changing their workforces to be more reflective of the diverse communities they protect. On the back of this research, Bronnie is currently seconded to the Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC) to assist with diversity and inclusion programs for the fire and emergency services sector.

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