Sunday, 20 September 2015

My Saturday Lunch Date with Sylvia Jeffreys & Sarah Harris

*Photo Courtesy of Sylvia Jeffreys

On Saturday the 19th September 2015, I took a leap of faith and attended the 'Women in Media' luncheon at QT Hotel & Resorts on the Gold Coast, with special guests Sylvia Jeffreys and Sarah Harris.

Having not attended an event like this before, I was nervous, apprehensive and really not sure what to expect. Those people that know me well, know that walking into a room of 150 people without knowing a single soul was an incredibly hard thing for me to do, let alone a room full of 150 confident, successful women. And lets not forget Nine News legend Bruce Paige who also graced us with his presence.

Anyways, lets get back to the scary room full of successful women and then there is me, little ole Canberra girl who has always had a passion for journalism but somehow took a wrong turn in life and  has ended up in the Finance Industry for the past 15 years. Don't get me wrong, being in the Finance Industry has given me an incredible career to date with a major highlight being a six year stint in London working for six of the major Investment Banks. But is Finance something I am passionate about? Absolutely not.

So recently I completed a Diploma in Professional Freelance Journalism and was introduced into a world I automatically felt like I belonged in. I've always loved writing and sharing stories through writing, so I decided to become a Freelance Journalist and see where it takes me.

When I spoke to a friend of mine and explained my passion but my inability to know what to do with it or how to get involved in the journalism world, she told me to google a 'Women in Media' event. So I did and that's where I found this event.

It took me a good two weeks to book my ticket, because I was simply terrified of turning up to such a huge event and not knowing a single person. Would they be nice? What would I talk to them about? Would they be interested in my story? So many questions, but in the end I figured I had nothing to lose and just booked my ticket. I also signed up for the bus that they were providing that took us from Brisbane to the Gold Coast.

From the minute I stepped onto that bus, I was introduced to an array of amazing people. People from all walks of the media industry, all chasing their own dreams and all very eager to hear my story. We toasted to a glass of bubbles and off we went. It was such a fun journey and instantly I knew I had made the right decision to go to this event.

When we got to the hotel, we found our seats and Sylvia Jeffreys and Sarah Harris were introduced onto the stage, well a little platform at the front of the room as it was a very intimate setting even with 150 plus people.

Both Sylvia and Sarah spoke about their careers, how they started, the struggles they have faced, their ups and downs and the mistakes they have made along the way. The passion with which they spoke with was so inspiring and their love of Journalism was infectious. Both women were so down to earth, honest and funny. I have followed both of their careers for some time and really aspire to be as successful as them, but this event also made me realise that they are also just everyday people doing a job that they love. They aren't divas, demanding or precious. Not that I was expecting this at all, but it was so wonderful seeing them sitting in front of that many people and just talking like they were talking to a group of friends in a very natural manner.

At one point, Sarah was telling the story of when she had a "whoopsie" and swore into a live microphone, not knowing the sound into the studio had been accidentally switched to "on". Although this was an incredibly embarrassing moment for her at the time, she was able to laugh at herself while telling the story. I too have not laughed that hard in a long time. She does tell stories very well.

Listening to these two incredible women was definitely the highlight of the day. But just as rewarding was meeting lots of likeminded people. Women who not only have their owns stories of strength, determination and passion for fulfilling their dreams but who were equally as interested in my journalism career (or lack of so far) and what direction I am wanting to head.

So, after hearing so many successful stories and speaking to so many people passionate about the media industry, where is it that I want to be? I'm still not sure yet and I still find it all very daunting and am a little unsure as to where to start, but I think I've taken the first step towards it. This event has opened my eyes to so many more opportunities. Perhaps I do want to seek experience in the Public Relations world, perhaps I do want to gain experience as a content writer and perhaps I do want to fulfil my lifetime dream of becoming a reporter. No matter where this path leads me and regardless of what doors and opportunities it may open for me, I will give it my all and be truly grateful for the experiences. And if anyone out there is willing to take me under their wing and guide me, Id be forever grateful for this also.

What I do know is that I will definitely be attending next years 'Women in Media' event and look forward to seeing some familiar faces. The bus ride home also introduced me to even more people from different areas within the media industry and their stories truly captivated me and I look forward to following their journeys also.

As for the venue, wow, is all I have to say about the QT Hotel & Resort on the Gold Coast. From the amazing decor to the friendly staff and what looked like the most impressive buffet lunch I have ever seen. Unfortunately with my gluten and onion allergies, I was unable to eat any of it, but when I spoke to one of the Chef's, he was more than accommodating. He offered to personally whip me a up a chicken stir-fry and delivered it to my seat. He wanted to make sure that I didn't miss out and I was incredibly thankful for that. Sometimes at events like this you can feel alienated by not being able to join in the deliciousness of the food, but he certainly made up for it. So thank you Mr Chef at the Bazaar restaurant.

A big thank you to all the amazing ladies I met yesterday (and Bruce Paige) for inspiring me to follow my dreams. Lets do it again next year.

*Photo courtesy of Women in Media

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