By Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia, 5 March, 2020

The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) 2020 International Women’s Day Breakfast promoted equality for women of all ages in the workplace under the #eachforequal global theme.

Claudia Sagripanti, EEAA Chief Executive led an insightful panel discussion that focussed on encouraging businesses to share ownership for driving change and the important role equality plays as a business enabler in creating social and economic wealth.

“A carefully selected panel of women were invited to share their inspirational stories as we explored the #eachforequal global theme, with a focus on ageism, bias against the young and the old and employability of people of all ages,” said Ms Sagripanti.

The panel included:

  • Keynote: Daz Chandler – Creative Director of Origami Flight and interdisciplinary story-teller
  • Natalie Yan-Chatonsky – Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Full Time Lives
  • Erica Blythe – Director of Finance and Administration at ICC Sydney
  • Christine Kotsis – Senior Business Development Manager, Harry the Hirer

This is the 6th year of the EEAA’s International Women’s Day, continuing The EEAA created this event initially in 2014 and has continued their commitment to shining the spotlight on the important role women play in the business events sector. This year’s event was sold out with over 100 people attending the breakfast today at Doltone House Hyde Park

The EEAA continued to support two good causes through this event via a donation to UN Women and supporting Fitted for Work – an important organisation that helps women who have been disadvantaged get into the workforce – so they can have economic independence.

Daz Chandler, interdisciplinary storyteller gave a thought-provoking keynote address that encouraged the use of imagination as a tool that enables thinking about how things could be better in a different world. Drawing on the principles of popular literature and imaginary world societies including JK Rowling and Harry Potter, she encourages a parallel thought process that creates alternate paths and futures.

Ms Chandler said, “International Women’s Day encourages everyone to engage with human rights and humanitarianism. We live in a world that is deeply entrenched in hierarchies with discriminatory principles in place. We must do better.”

Ms Chandler also stressed the need to break down reductive systems that are in place and to “stop thinking there is a link between gender and ability”.

Natalie Yan-Chatonsky talked about her recent experience on the Diversity council for Finisia and highlighted the disparity between attitudes of people in financial services. Natalie said “women need to speak up if you see something wrong.” She also emphasized the need to “make sure men are part of the diversity conversation in all workplaces and that they understand what needs to be done”.

Christine Kotsis talked about how to go about building your networks, and shared with the audience the impact of her involvement with the EEAA Young Stars program. “Joining the EEAA Young Stars was a fantastic program that enabled me to build up my confidence, my personal brand and get my name out in the industry. From a young age, I had established relationships with the EEAA board, senior members of the industry, and my network really grew.”

Erica Blythe said, “it is important for women to bring their whole self to work – it’s what clients and teammates want. If you love your job and really immerse yourself in the role, you will get noticed.” Ms Bythe also said, “it is important to equip yourself with the ability to challenge – to make sure you know as much as you can about the business.”

The speaker panel were presented with exquisitely packaged special edition wine varietals by Lisa McGuigan, a dominant female force in the winemaking world. Lisa’s wine instincts are distilled from her family’s four generations of wine making in Australia’s Hunter Valley.

About the EEAA 2020 IWD Panel:

Daz Chandler, Interdisciplinary Story-teller

Daz Chandler is an award-winning interdisciplinary storyteller, creating work that traverses words, performance, sound, video, film, events and online platforms. She has presented and produced radio, television and AIMIA award winning multi-platform projects for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, worked across print & digital as an arts, op-ed and travel writer, and curated artistic events across Australia and the Middle East.

In late 2008, she left Australia to establish Radio Lajee, an English- language media project for youth living inside refugee camps in the Palestinian Territories. In May 2018, Daz was one of five storytellers to be asked to perform at London’s Union Chapel as part of The Moth’s prestigious main-stage event.

Her latest work, The Parallel Effect a participatory installation about anthropogenic (man-made) climate change is the recipient of the 2019 Graham F. Smith Peace Award and will premiere at Next Wave Festival in May 2020.

Erica Blythe, Director of Finance and Administration, International Convention Centre Sydney

A qualified FCPA and GAICD, Erica has consistently delivered strong financial results throughout her career with some of Sydney’s most prominent hotels, including Sofitel Sydney Wentworth and Novotel Darling Harbour.

Passionate about innovation and financial education, Erica is a highly accomplished leader who brings with her more than 15 years of finance and administration experience to her role as Director of Finance & Administration at ICC Sydney. After 3 years of operation, ICC Sydney has achieved its’ annual KPI’s consistently as well as helped contribute over $850m in economic benefit to NSW.

Erica joined ICC Sydney following her position as Regional Financial Controller for Accor NSW/ACT where she led the finance function for more than 40 hotels.

Her impressive background and skillset have seen her rise to a celebrated spokesperson within the accounting industry. Erica has contributed to many research pieces including EEAA’s ‘A Career for Life 2019’ and Business Chicks’ ‘Women in Leadership Report’.

As a proud mother of two boys who keep her centred and also help her keep it real, Erica is the executive sponsor of ICC Sydney’s six diversity streams. She is an active champion for two of them – Parents & Carers and Generation Success.

More recently, Erica has been appointed President of the NSW Divisional Council for CPA Australia for the 2020 year and is involved in regular speaking engagements, panels and presentations on behalf of CPA.

Christine Kotsis, Senior Business Development Manager, Harry the hirer

Christine Kotsis is an accomplished client relationship and business development professional who is passionate about creating partnerships that deliver exceptional event experiences for her clients.

After starting her career on the frontline answering customer enquiries, Christine understands what truly delivers a great customer experience in the exhibition industry. As a well-respected and an accomplished authority in exhibition delivery and business development, her 14 years’ experience has seen Christine develop key relationships with professional conference and exhibition organisers, corporate clients, government departments, associations, as well as marketing and public relations agencies.

With an ability to liaise with such a diverse range of corporate clientele, Christine applies her strong industry knowledge, problem solving and communication skills to offer the kind of solutions and support that led to Christine winning Business Development Person of the Year in 2014 at the prestigious Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) National Awards.

As an industry leader, Christine is also devoted to helping young professionals learn from her success. She contributed significantly to the launch off the EEAA Young Stars program and today continues as a mentor to aspiring young professionals.

Natalie Yan-Chatonsky, Founder & CEO, Full Time Lives

Natalie is a silver economy entrepreneur. Collaborating with companies to meet their customers’ unmet needs while adapting to disruption has been a recurring theme throughout her career. She has had an extensive career as a product innovator and plays an active role driving the diversity and inclusion agenda in Australia.

On a more personal note, Natalie has been inspired to find a way for her baby-boomer parents to make a smooth transition from their full-time work. She has been applying a human-centred design approach to understand how to help pre-retirees and retirees lead meaningful and vibrant lives. After leaving their careers many people lose their sense of purpose, identity and self-worth. They have a greater risk of social isolation and depression if they have not planned out a meaningful retirement lifestyle.

With overwhelming evidence that this need is not being met well by corporates with ageing workforces, the wellness and financial services sector for their customers or the government in Australia, Natalie co-founded Full Time Lives. Full Time Lives helps people positively and meaningfully embark on the next chapter following mid-life career and lifestyle changes.

Backed by the extensive research on healthy ageing and longevity study tours to the Blue Zones, they have curated the most relevant and thought-provoking resources and tools. They design and deliver in-person workshops, retreats and online programs to guide people through the steps for a purposeful and fulfilled life.

They have previously run private programs for organisations that care about the wellbeing of their members, staff and customers. These include CPA Australia, University of Sydney, BPAY and the CEO Institute.


Claudia Sagripanti, Chief Executive, Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia

During her career, Claudia worked in events and exhibitions; and more recently in media and digital technology. She was the CEO of Publishers Australia the trade association representing leading B2B and B2C publishers, and managed the events and awards of the Australian Data-Driven Marketing Association (ADMA).

Claudia led the development of professional standards in online and mobile advertising in

Australia for the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA) and is currently on the advisory board for the International Social Media Association.

Claudia has also worked for Macquarie Bank and more recently with Optus as Business Program Manager delivering digital transformation and new technology pilot projects, and developing project management value creation frameworks.

Venue welcome:

Anna Cesarano, Chief Executive Officer, Doltone House:

Anna Cesarano, is the Chief Executive Officer of Doltone House catering and venue collection. The brand is celebrating 50 golden years.

She is co-founder and Board Member of the Biaggio Signorelli Asbestos Cancer Foundation, honouring her late father and founder of Doltone House Group, to raise funds into Mesothelioma (asbestos cancer).

Being an active participant in family business, she was featured in BRW discussing succession planning in family businesses, following being inducted into the inaugural Family Business Australia Hall of Fame in 2012. She participated as a mentor in the NSW Family Business Australia Next Generation mentoring program and was also a Family Business Australia (NSW) Board Member.

Anna sits on the national judging panel for the Barnardo’s Mother of The Year Awards. She also values her role as a Judge for the Channel 7 Young Achiever Awards and Judge for the Meetings and Events Australia National Awards Program.

Vote of Thanks:

Rebecca Murdoch, Clifton Productions


Venue Partner, Doltone House

Registration Partners, Eventbrite and Sprintr by AV1

Signage Partner, FABframe

AV Partner, Mircrohire

Photography Partner, Homepix Photography

Printing Partner, Cloud Print Group

View the photos from the EEAA 2020 International Women’s Day here.

Source: EEAA