After a break due to Covid restrictions, the annual Saluting Sydney Women event honouring incredible female role models is back! In early September 2022, Sydney Women’s Fund gathered a group of powerful women and men to celebrate a true trailblazer – Ann Sherry AO – at the spectacular Sydney Opera House. This was a fitting backdrop to pay tribute to Ann as one of our city’s truly iconic women, who credits her time in Sydney in the mid-90s as giving her the “greatest platform to create the greatest change.”
Ann has fought tirelessly for gender equity and social justice over the course of her remarkable life. With a proudly non-linear career behind her, Ann is a true advocate for having the courage to switch tack, seize the moment and thrive on diversity. The young girl who grew up in country Queensland and started out as a radiographer soon realised she was destined for a different life. The high-profile corporate roles that followed spanned trade unions, government, banking, travel and sport and took her and husband Michael Hogan across the globe.
Looking back, Ann believes her career jumps taught her resilience and the value of learning. Among her efforts to champion inclusion in all areas of life, she counts turning Westpac into the first private sector employer in Australia to offer paid parental leave, and helping to establish the Jawun secondment program to bring new skills to indigenous communities. No stranger to harnessing her warrior spirit in her personal life, she has also dedicated herself to fighting for education and employment rights for her son Nick who has Down’s Syndrome.
Ann is living proof that having the courage of your convictions and advocating for equity can make a difference. “If you are prepared to put your hand up and stick your neck out, you can create astonishing things with legacy,” she says. “Change is not just about the strength of the idea, it’s about timing.” Ann also credits teams, not individuals, for creating change – and she spoke of her efforts to build diversity into her teams over the years. With her characteristic smile and energy, Ann rallied the room with these words: “We need to invest in other women, invest in change. We all need to smooth the way, knock down barriers and make sure they stay down. Put something down on the pathway, so that women who come behind us have a new place to stand.”
Staying true to this ethos has had lasting ripple effects far beyond her corporate achievements. Ann drove a revolution in women’s sport thanks to her time on the Board of Rugby Australia, where she fought to get a women’s team to the Rio Olympics (they won gold). There’s no doubt her legacy will continue to guide the next generation of female leaders as her career journey continues in the education, finance and non-profit sectors.
Ann joins past Sydney Women’s Fund honourees Carla Zampatti AC OMRI, Ita Buttrose AO OBE, and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. These women – and many others since the event’s inception in 2014 – have all served as role models for the next generation of women leaders.
Chair of Sydney Women’s Fund Advisory Council, Georgina Byron, led a short Q&A on stage with Marta Artamenko, team leader on the Ukrainian Helping Hand Project, about the team’s work to support displaced women and children, newly arrived in Sydney from the conflict in Ukraine.
We thank our 2022 major event sponsor, Glow Capital Partners, and Dermalogica as the multi-year sponsor for the Sydney Women’s Fund’s ongoing work