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This years international day theme is “Choose to Challenge”. This theme highlights the importance of challenging biases and inequality, as well as celebrating women’s achievements – something that we at Olly are very passionate about.

In honour of international women’s day – or frankly, any time of the year – we are paying tribute to the women in our lives that have inspired us – from family, friends, leaders, and colleagues. Women who kill at their careers, manage families — most of the time do both.

Kate – Olly Principal

This morning on my morning commute to work I paid a little more attention than usual to my reflection in train the window…. I was asked to write about a women that has inspired me in my life……Who is the women that is most responsible for who I am today? As I looked at the growing wrinkles on my face (some caused by my children dancing to their own beat) I could not help but think how much my face and my wrinkles mirrored that of my mothers. There are some aspects of our lives that are similar, not just our looks.

Her dedication to community and passion for the arts encouraged me to be not only a be a diligent worker but a creative thinker. Coupled with her inherent competitive gene, meant that I was just crazy enough to have the courage embark on a career in such a male-dominated industry.

Undoubtedly, it is hard to think of a person that encouraged me to push boundaries and has empowered me as my mother. It was her support, mentoring and love that gave me the confidence to challenge the world.

As I reflect on my own children; It makes me smile when I think about their growing confidence as they start to dance their own beat (sometimes looking over their shoulders to mak  e sure I approve), I hope that I will give them the courage to do things just a little bit differently too….


My sister, Mary, has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. When we were younger, we were worlds apart, coming into adulthood we have become an extension of one another. She has always been supportive of any decision I’ve made, regardless of whether she agrees or not. She has only wanted the best for me and always reminds me to strive to be the best I can be. Mary is everything I aspire to be, she is selfless, an amazing mother, nurturing and compassionate. She is someone I couldn’t possibly imagine a life without.

Candy – Olly EA

A year into my first role as an international phone operator the call centre manager took me into her office and asked about my career aspirations (short-lived conversation as I had none). She kept firing open-ended questions at me, like why did I spend 20 minutes with a lady who was struggling when I knew it would impact my KPI’s, why, in my own time did I simplify some procedure for my colleagues who were struggling to understand the training sessions. She asked me what I thought about learning the ropes to become a Manager, which I instantly declined due to not having the skill set nor the confidence to do that. Long story short, she set things in motion for me to gain experience managing people in a very covert manner and within a year I had the skill set and confidence to perform a Team Manager role, and then a Call Centre Manager role. This inspirational woman saw something in me that even I didn’t see and she developed me into a role that I thrived in, continually offering advice and guidance, everything she did was gentle persuasion without scaring me off. When I would say “what if I get it wrong” she would say “what if you get it right”. She not only did this for me but many other women who were trying to compete in what many saw as a man’s world, at that time the British Telecom board of directors, and every Senior Management roles were male-dominated – she played there, played well and made sure many of us followed in her footsteps.

Years later when I had 2 small children & was doing a Team Manager role at the biggest Telco in England, I talked to her about my dream of studying psychology and without missing a beat she said okay, let’s see how we can make this happen – we sat for hours (over a few days) reviewing timetables, peak times at the call centre, rosters etc and then we had a plan – I worked semi-part time, whilst studying psychology. I couldn’t have done that without her and I certainly wouldn’t have been on the journey I had without her. One remarkable lady who I’ll always be indebted to.

Rui – Olly Analyst

My accounting lecturer at Melbourne Uni Mary Zafirakis.

Mary was born in Australia but moved to Greece when she was very young, and when she came back to Australia couldn’t speak much English. Her first degree was in Education (or English), and she had a teaching job in a primary school. She then got a second degree in Accounting and now (having googled her) is a subject leader in Accounting at Melbourne Uni. She was very enthusiastic about teaching and as I recall was always very encouraging and passionate. I remember her telling us “we (all) have so many potentials and there are so many we could achieve”

From memory that was when I first really thought about the idea of “feminism” (or “independent strong woman” if the previous word is overused politically).

I was born and brought up in a very traditional Chinese family. My parents used to tell me to study as much as I could before I got to 25, as “once you grow older and get married you don’t have the time and energy anymore”. But Mary made me realise that one should always invest in oneself, both male and female.

I think that was the first time for me to realise that a woman’s life, her future, should never be limited by her marriage, her age, her origin, or her accent. And she also convinced me that you can be an accountant and be a fun person!

Christina – Olly Marketing Manager

I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by very strong women both on personal & professional sense. When I think about my career and where I am today one particular women jumps to mind – Marissa Limberis my first ever boss. From day dot, Marissa gave me the support and the belief in myself that I truly believe allowed me to be where I am today.

I think it was her trust in me from the get-go that really made me think “ok I can do this” as for me, when someone trusts you it inspires you to believe in your own abilities and get rid of that self-doubt I think many of us have (especially women) – especially when you’re just starting out.

Marissa passion, realness, and desire to grow and develop the people around her was what I admired most about her. I hope I am fortunate enough one day to have the same lasting impact on someone.

Lavina – Olly Undergraduate

When I think of a woman who has empowered and inspired me, the first person that pops up is of course my mum and behind that, my aunts. They migrated to Australia, with no family here, and their independent, fierce, and strong natures helped them overcome all the challenges of this.

Hearing stories of this to seeing them all be in their dream jobs, inspires me in ways that words can’t explain. Watching them progress through their careers whilst managing the big crazy family and daughters just shows how hard work can reap rewards. I’m personally at the beginning of my career journey, and their inspirational life has motivated me to be independent, strong and to continue striving for success. Watching them makes me excited for the future and I hope to continue working with women in my career to inspire me.

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