Penelope O’Sullivan a Finalist in the Telstra Young Business Women’s Award 2017

By Industry and Stakeholder News, 4 October, 2017

Penelope O’Sullivan, based in Croydon, VIC, runs Ultimate Women’s Weekend Expo, a social enterprise in the form of a Women’s Lifestyle Exhibition. 100% of the show profits are donated to Domestic Violence Refuges in each town. The show runs in Regional locations, from VIC, ACT, NSW and QLD, and profits are donated to a refuge in each town the show visits, to ensure benefit to the local community. The show has anywhere between 50-130 Exhibitors, and to date has provided just over $15,000 in support, through monetary donations and exposure to 4 Women’s refuges. Penelope has been recognized for her vision and leadership skills, in this year’s 2017 Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

Letter from Penelope (with a story):
Dear Whom It May Concern, At 19 I found myself in a violent relationship. I was a teenager with a big heart, who looked for the best in everyone. Unfortunately this was taken advantage of. During my experience with Domestic Violence, I understood the abuse to be a form of the perpetrator showing they cared & showing their love. I never would have dreamed of calling the police or asking for help. At the time, I was emotionally and physically weakened and I honestly believed my perpetrator wasn’t the one with issues, it was me, and I was lucky to have them in my life. My self-esteem was so low, that I felt worthless and didn’t comprehend how unhealthy the situation was from the outside. It wasn’t until a friend intervened after my perpetrator attempted to strangle me to death that I realized how wrong I was. It is a common trend that victims do not realize the situation themselves they are in and spend their time justifying why it happens…. Or sometimes they understand, but don’t know how to get away. After healing for a few years, conquering PTSD and working on my dream to one day create a Women’s Expo in Australia, I found myself googling what the prevalence of domestic violence was. I wanted to understand why that had happened to me. I was shocked by statistics in Australia which include one in three women experiencing Physical violence since the age of 15, and one in four experiencing Emotional abuse, and I realised that a third of the women who attend my show would have experienced this. It occurred to me that I could use my organisation to benefit those Refuges, and not for profits in need- and the individuals who need help. After all, the government can’t do it alone. Private donations are crucial to keeping our services open. The show launched, and quickly expanded from huge community support. I constantly use innovation including virtual offices, cloud based technology and automation systems to be able to do multiple jobs at once with maximum output and efficiency. They don’t call Event Coordination the 5th most stressful job in the world for no reason! (Forbes, 2016). I’ve hired an incredible team of 7 brilliant staff members who share my crazy vision to change the world, create an empowering sisterhood and educate about and benefit domestic violence (one woman at a time!), as well as some casual show staff during the event. We all work virtually (apart from during the show) allowing me to employ incredible human assets to the business who otherwise would be hindered by a 9-5 work schedule. Diversity is our greatest asset. We have individuals of mixed genders, races, religion, stay at home mums, workers with disabilities and so forth. It is something which has been so beneficial to the business, helping it grow so significantly. I have had the pleasure of working with some incredible businesses, and I am so proud of my Exhibitor family and what we all collectively stand for. We also have the most wonderful sisterhood of women who come together and unite for a fun day out that is empowering, educational and beneficial. Personally, I was never more than an average child at school. I struggled academically, but I was always told by my mum, “you can achieve whatever you dream of”, and my dad “put some kindness into the world”. I was honestly, no special child, I learnt quickly to think outside the box when it came to achieving my goals. Thankfully, it is my passion for events that propels me to mix up the status quo and gives me perseverance when times get tough! I admit, coming forward and telling my story, exposing myself in a public manner is one of my biggest fears. A fear that the Telstra Business Women’s awards have helped me overcome. I risk putting my family and friends in danger, but yet I stand forth publicly, with the intention of showing the world that anyone can come out of horrible situations stronger and braver than ever, using the negative experiences as a reason to create more positive within the world we live in. I also urge business owners to look past the traditional 9-5 workplace, and avoid being bias towards employees age, and gender particularly. All employees should be given the right training that is flexible to learning style, opportunities and plenty of resources. It can result in an incredible company culture, extremely productive workplace and for company goals to be well and truly achieved. As a community, we need to collectively stand together to eradicate Domestic Violence, support victims, and provide education and support as well for the perpetrators so they can change their behavior to be kind, and full of love.

Thank you for sharing the love, Penelope O’Sullivan

Other Details:
Based in Croydon, VIC.
Penelope’s Direct Contact Number: 0467 621 430
Penelope has been nominated for the Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year, and the judges stated during the interview that she was one of 600 competitors for the finalists.

Source: The Ultimate Women's Weekend Team