I recently had the privilege and amazing experience to be in the same room with a group of women holding powerful jobs in various field of expertise.  This was at the Chief Executive Women (CEW) annual dinner held at the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour on May 10, 2022.  This annual fundraising event is to fund CEW scholarships and other CEW programs. CEW is a group with the shared mission of ‘women leaders enabling other women leaders’. The organisation’s 800 members hold leading roles in private and public organisations. According to latest CEW data, they oversee more than 1.3 million employees and $749 billion in revenue.

This event was more special to me as Michelle Baltazar, our good friend and editor/publisher of The Australian Filipina, Editor-in-Chief of Money financial magazine, community leader, seasoned journalist and event host, is the only Filipina among the CEW scholars. She is one of the two inaugural recipients of the prestigious Maureen Kerridge AM Scholarship, a new scholarship to inspire Australian women leaders working in media, television and advertising from the CEW. 

I was jumping up and down when I found out that I won the scholarship. Mind you, I almost didn’t apply because I thought I had no chance but I was encouraged to do so by one of my mentors, she said.

Michelle said that the scholarship submission wasn’t easy. It took her a couple of weeks to put her submission together as the organisation had extensive selection criteria and then once she was shortlisted, she had to do a zoom interview with the judging panel.

Her efforts paid off. The scholarship grant allowed her to study a six-month executive leadership programme at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a prestigious university ranked ahead of Oxford, Stanford and Harvard.

At the dinner, my husband John and me also had the pleasure of meeting Michelle’s boss, Money magazine’s managing director Christopher Page and his wife Helen. Michelle’s ‘date’ for the evening was Aunty Beryl Van Oploo, who is a well-known Aboriginal elder and community leader in Australia.

I was introduced to Aunty Beryl many years ago by our mutual friend Deborah Wall. I was honoured that she accepted the invitation because I wanted to share the milestone moment with her. I wanted to show my respect and gratitude to the Indigenous community and how much Australia has given so many opportunities to immigrants like me.

The event in Sydney was also joined by guests in Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane, and those who tuned in via live broadcast. CEW member Robyn Denholm was the national keynote speaker. Her inspiring speech highlighted the event’s theme Courage to take risks in order to achieve set goals and objectives. In her talk, CEW President Sam Mostyn AO also encouraged everyone in the room to help shape the change we need. The emcees who brought the event together were Anita Jacoby AM and Robi Stanton (online).  

The fantastic performance of This is Me and You’re the Voice by the Australian Girls’ Choir entertained and engaged everyone present at the event.  There was additional excitement when the winners for the raffles were read out. Generous prizes were up for grabs but what I was wishing to win was the $10K QANTAS Travel Voucher.  :)

Congratulations Michelle Baltazar on your scholarship and being part of this special group of women whose mission is to empower more women in making a difference to the country and the world.


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