Three Female Leaders Changing the Australian Tech Industry
As part of our Women in Tech campaign, we’d like to highlight the female leaders in the industry who are making meaningful differences. Three mentions coming from our Australian office are featured in this article, but please head over to our UK, US and Swedish editions if you are interested in stories of women in tech!
Melanie Perkins is the founder of Canva, the new, easy-to-use graphic design platform. When she launched the platform in 2013, Melanie was greeted with plenty of scepticism from investors, but her unwavering determination led her to success, and now Canva is the most valuable women-led startup in the world.
“It’s important to think that any rejection is based on something you can control because then you can fix that. That meant that we really have the internal locus of control, which meant that we felt like we could succeed.” – talking to Blackbird, 2020
During her time as a private tutor teaching graphic design, Melanie noticed how difficult it could be for students to learn professional software such as Photoshop. Seeing the need for a more accessible graphic design platform, Melanie soon hatched the idea of building a visual content creation tool that does not require formal, specific training. Thus, Canva was born, and since then it has become more and more indispensable for students and professionals alike. With over 75 million monthly active users, the platform generated over a billion dollars of revenue in 2022. Plus, following a recent funding round of $200 million, Canva is now valued at $40 billion, making it one of the most valuable private software companies out there.
Perkins continues to work as CEO at Canva, and is one of the youngest-ever female CEOs of a tech start-up valued at over A$1 billion.
If you are an active user of Sweat, the fitness app that offers guidance from female fitness trainers, you might have heard the name of Kayla Itsines. In the year of 2016, she was listed as one of the ‘30 most influential people on the Internet’.
Kayla was once a personal trainer herself at a gym in Adelaide. She set an example for women who look to start a business from a passionate project by combining it with technology. She managed to tap into her expertise in fitness and further launch her fitness app, motivating over a million users every month to achieve their workout goals and to maintain mental health.
“Stay focused on what you want to achieve and what feels right for you. If you do what you love, that passion and authenticity will shine through and people will be drawn to that.” – 2018, interview with Carrie Colbert
Sweat has a women-first tech approach, with different options that recognise flexibility, variety and support to allow users to reach their own, personal health and fitness goals. With options that include: high-intensity, weights, powerlifting, yoga and post-pregnancy programs, they leverage the shifting needs of women in different stages of their life.
Kayla Itsines understood the power of technology when she launched her business, turning what were once one-time-payment ebooks into a subscription-based app that allowed her to update content regularly and track who was making use of her programs. Sweat now works to collectivise the e-training industry into one handy, easy-to-use platform.
Today, she has over 15 million followers on her social media, and her app reaches over 20 million women worldwide.
(source: Chris Pavlich via https://old.advance.org/blog/meet-dr-catriona-wallace)
Catriona Wallace, named one of the most influential women in business and entrepreneurship by the Australia Financial Review, is the director of the Gradient Institute whilst also being the founder of the Responsible Metaverse Alliance (RMA).
“Women need to see, read about, meet and experience other women who are in those leadership roles. I believe that women attract women. Women like to go and work with women, so just having that visual presence would certainly help.” – 2019, CEO Magazine.
With her speciality in artificial intelligence, Catriona resides In a relatively male-dominated industry, which is why her success has caught substantial attention. The company she founded in 2013, Flamingo AI, was one of the first SaaS companies in the AI field and the second-ever woman-led business to be listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Under her leadership, the company landed impressive accounts like Nationwide and HSBC. Flamingo AI worked as an AI knowledge-sharing hub for businesses, and aimed to increase productivity and team agility by delivering accurate, up-to-date knowledge using artificial intelligence natural language search.
In 2020, she also founded the Ethical AI Advisory – a board that aims to develop and integrate ethical and responsible AI tech into future-facing businesses. As of today, she sits as the founder of the Responsible Metaverse Alliance – a movement conceived of technologists, ethicists and human rights experts, all united to uphold the ethical use of Metaverse technology. They debate the perceived benefits against unnecessary risks of this new technology, and how it might negatively affect different groups, such as women and children.
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