Celebrating the year that was

31.12.09 | Posted in General

Entrepreneurs don’t celebrate enough. It’s like we accomplish one goal, pause for a quick breath and then go to the next one on our to do lists. I’m certainly guilty of this. So I’m going to stop for a few deep breaths and celebrate the year that was. I encourage you to do the same. Take a few minutes to do a stocktake of what you achieved in 2009. For now though, here’s a bit of my story.

In January Rowan and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary on Hamilton Island at Qualia – amazing. This trip coupled as a babymoon and was our last holiday with just the two of us.


February brought the first round of Business Chicks breakfasts across the country. Crowds flocked to hear Geraldine Cox’s story. We were so moved by her work that we decided to organise a trip to Cambodia to visit her orphanage. Later in the year almost 40 Business Chicks got to cycle around Cambodia (one group is pictured here); complete some project work at the orphanage, and raise over $130,000 for Kids Helpline.

My term as the President of the Entrepreneurs Organisation Sydney was fast coming to a close and whilst I’d had a great ride with the board I was ready to step down after four years of service.

My belly grew and grew and in early May I birthed a beautiful baby girl, Milla. She was nine days ‘overdue’ but I was committed to let nature take its course and not interfere with the process. Milla was born in water at our home after an incredible 23-hour labour. Rowan only missed three contractions during the whole day, and his hands were the first to touch her.

The experience was exhilarating and powerful and I’ll definitely be birthing all my babies at home in the future (health permitting). Milla had such a gentle, peaceful, loving and calm entry into the world and we’re sure that her beautiful temperament now is owed in part to this experience. The care and support I received from our private homebirth midwife and doula was absolutely first class and way above any level of care I encountered in the hospital system.

Eight days after giving birth I braved the next Sydney Business Chicks breakfast. The lights, music, energy and 980 strong audience overwhelmed me. It was my first day out of PJs and first time out of the house but it was worth it to hear Li Cunxin, author of bestselling autobiography Mao’s Last Dancer.

My year gets a bit fuzzy after this. I endured five months of chronic sleep deprivation (the longest stretch of sleep I achieved was three hours during this time) but loved every minute of getting to know Milla and her little ways. I jumped back into my businesses and taught myself how to juggle in the way that all working mums before me have. I’m proud to say that I’ve only ever been late home once for the nanny. Motherhood has taught me the value of time and the importance of focus.

The highlight of my year has been watching my team grow and mature as people and in their roles. Unsurprisingly, they stepped up and made decisions in my absence, and completely supported me in my journey to becoming a parent.


We celebrated the first anniversary of Business Chicks in Perth; introduced our Lunch and Learn event series (with guest speakers Mia Freedman and Amanda Gore); leapt into the social media game; heard from Layne Beachley at another of our events (pictured left); and partnered with NAB, Sofitel, HP, Tahiti Tourism and hundreds of other brands.

I was one of four finalists in the Telstra Businesswomen’s Awards, and one of three finalists in my category in the Cosmopolitan Fun Fearless Female of the Year awards. After a frustrating experience with awards programs this year the gorgeous Matt Church from Thought Leaders awarded me the Entrepreneur of the Year, which to be honest, means more to me because he actually knows me and knows what I do.

I’m positive I’m missing many crucial events and milestones, but that’s not the point. What matters is that I actually stopped to give myself a quick pat on the back, and took a look at the year that was. Great. Now on to the next goal on my list – 2010! Happy New Year everyone.


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  1. Danni

    You didn’t learn “how to juggle in the way that all working mums before me” did; you got a nanny. Slight difference.

  2. Emma

    Thanks Danni. I don’t for one minute doubt that I’m fortunate to have the support of a nanny. She is a massive help to me and I’m always grateful for that. I have her for two days of the week and the rest I’m left up to my own devices to juggle my responsibilities. The transition to motherhood (and going back to work) is a challenging one no matter what level of support you receive.

  3. Sarah

    I’v been to a number of Breakfast Chick events in Melbourne but don’t know you, Emma, personally, but was intrigued with your blog so have had a read, and loved the energy! I read the above blog a few days ago and loved the idea of taking the time to celebrate the year that was (I wrote a list of my achievements which also included a baby!). It is so easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what we haven’t achieved rather than taking stock of the amazing amount of things that have been accomplished, and wow have you had a busy year! But it was Danni’s comment that has been playing in my head over the last few days that compelled me to write something.

    As women we need to support each other and whatever decisions we take to get the balance in our lives especially when returning to the workforce after having a baby – be it only after 6 weeks or 6 years. Some women are fortunate to get a nanny, others have amazing family to make dinners or clean and look after their children whenever the need arises, others may have to put their children in child care on a part-time or full-time basis, some of us have a great support network of friends or/and an amazing partner to support them and encourage them every step of the way and some have none of the above. Whatever women have in their lives to help support them in their juggle to maintain a great life balance (and try to limit any guilt for leaving our children with anyone other than ourselves!) we shouldn’t judge them for it, we have our own guilt to try to quiten all by ourselves :-0

    Let’s be kinder to one another and support everyones right to return to work if this is what they choose to do, however they chose to do this, that works for them (or is the only option available).

    Keep up the great posts Emma – I’m about to return to work on Monday!

  4. Em

    Sarah – thank you so much for your wisdom and words.

    I couldn’t agree more that as women we should support each other and support each other’s choices; whether that’s relating to the decisions they make with their families or their careers or their relationships – whatever. It’s about removing judgment and understanding that everyone’s journey and situation is different.

    I wanted to reach through the screen and give you a hug because the world should be full of more people like you. All the best for your return to work this week and for a beautiful future with your little one.

    Em xx

    PS Next time you’re at a Business Chicks event, come and say hi!

  5. Rachel

    Well done Emma. I believe its just as important for women to appreciate what they have achieved as it is to set goals for themselves in the first place.

    I only recently heard about Business Chicks as I was applying for a job there. Its interesting to know some of the things you do as the Chief Chick and the kind of events that are organised. Sounds like it was a great year. I’m suprised and delighted that your company also organises trips like the one to Cambodia. I also travelled to Cambodia in 2009 to volunteer at an orphanage and it was an experience I will never forget.

    Here’s hoping that there will be many more new and creative events in 2010 and hopefully I will see you at one! Or even get the chance to work with you in the future.

    oh, and congratulations on having Milla!

  6. Emma

    Thanks Rachel – it’ll be a big year at Business Chicks with lots of developments. We’re working on a new web platform where you’ll be able to connect with other members, hear great stories and learn lots that will help you in your career.

    We’re also relaunching our magazine, Latte; organising another international fundraising adventure, as well as producing over 60 premium events around Australia.

    Stay tuned and hope you can get involved with us – I’d love to meet you personally soon!