International Women's Day: successful women share their best advice

International Womens day 2022

RACV Staff

Posted March 08, 2022

Celebrating International Women’s Day, we asked women from various walks of success to part with some wisdom for the next generation.

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the achievements of women around the world and inspire the women of tomorrow. Though the definition of ‘success’ differs from person to person, we spoke to lauded and accomplished women in their fields of expertise to gain an insight into their success. 

From medical specialists to AFL club presidents, we asked the current female champions leading their industries and professions what advice has inspired them. 

Here is their advice for the women of tomorrow. 

What advice would you give a young woman? 

Sally Capp – Melbourne’s champion

Melbourne Lord Mayor 

"Women should be fearless in pursuing opportunities they feel passionate about. 

Something I’ve found incredibly useful over the years is being aware of how I add value to an organisation or a workplace. If you know that, then you get much more out of the experience. On the flip side of that, it’s also important to know what areas you can improve on. That way, when faced with new opportunities, you can be clear about what you will contribute, and what you are seeking. 

I would strongly encourage young women to invest in a network of supporters, people who will champion you when you are not in the room. Having a network of people who understand your ambitions and will support you along the way will always pay dividends in the long term."

Bernadette McDonald – Healthcare leader

Chief Executive Officer, The Royal Children’s Hospital

"Remember always that you are enough, don’t rush, listen with curiosity and you will always learn. 

With time and experience comes wisdom, until that happens surround yourself with wise women who support you no matter what. Remember you are stronger, smarter, and more resilient than you think.

Be careful with the story you are telling yourself, be kind to yourself first."

Kate Roffey – President of the Premiers

Melbourne Football Club President

"Years ago, I chatted with author Bryce Courtenay and he asked me what I wanted to do with my career. Without thinking I said, “be the first female president of the IOC”.

Instead of laughing, he said, “well, someone has to be it, so it might as well be you”.

Every day, I think of those very wise words. I don’t know that we ever achieve our personal definition of ‘success’, but to even get close you have to choose your own path wisely. Don’t do what everyone else thinks you should - do what drives you, inspires you, challenges you."


Lord Mayor Sally Capp.
Melbourne Club President Kate Roffey.
Healthcare Leader Bernadette McDonald.
Dr Collette Burke - Chief Engineer.
Dr Lynn Burmeister - Fertility Health Pioneer.

Carolyn Clark OAM – Social justice advocate

Sacred Heart Mission’s Board Secretary

"Be a voice for others who do not have a voice. Learn to forgive, do not judge and listen with your whole self, this is hard sometimes but life is easier when you are present, authentic and true.

Be strategic in your choices, cultivate your own identity and perspective of the world and never underestimate the value of your own unique contribution.

Cherish the child inside and always trust in the wonder of serendipity; there is magic around every corner if you keep your eyes and your heart open.

And in all things embrace change, embrace opportunity and take the time to embrace those you love. A lot."

Dr Lynn Burmeister – Fertility health pioneer

No 1 Fertility Director and CEO

"I never want to ask another person for anything – I’ve always been fiercely independent. If you want something in life, you have to go and get it for yourself. 

Empowerment is important to me. I don’t believe I should have to look up to anyone in life, which is why I wear high heels so I can look everyone in the eye.  

The fertility industry is also about empowerment. We are giving women choices. Choice is power. 

My advice to every young woman would be to study and work hard and never give up. 

I have a poster on a wall in my clinic that says: 'If at first you don’t succeed, fix your ponytail and try again.' 

That’s the advice I live by. "

Dr Collette Burke – Victoria’s first Chief Engineer

Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) National Inception Leader, Asset Performance

"Believe that anything can be done. There are a lot of opportunities that are missed from not realising an ambition.

There will be many careers that will be available and will be different from your primary training.

Find a role model and understand what issues they went through early in their career and problems that they overcame.

Be overt, and seek out supporters who can assist you in opportunities."

Des’ree Barnes – Sporting icon

Five-time world BMX champion and Olympian

"The advice I would give to young women would be to always believe in yourself. You’re going to have people trying to tear you down, people that don’t believe in you and people that simply don’t wanna see you succeed.

Turn the hate into motivation, and back yourself with everything. You’re worthy, and you will do great things, as long as you believe in yourself."