Engineers Australia’s International Women’s Day Breakfast with Turia Pitt

International Women’s Day is almost upon us, and yesterday I had the privilege of attending Engineers Australia’s (pre) International Women’s Day breakfast, featuring a panel of female engineers to discuss gender equality, and a keynote address from the magnificent Turia Pitt, who is/was a mining engineer.

Most people know Turia’s story – and her continued resilience, tenacity and, in some ways (in a good way), her defiance. The impression I got was that as soon as someone tells her she ‘can’t’ do something she accepts that as a challenge, and finds a way to make it happen.

Determination personified.

While I expected her to be amazing from what she’s already experienced, overcome and achieved, I did not expect her to be so bloody funny!

From having a dig at herself for being an (incredibly motivating) motivational speaker by saying ‘when I really should have more credibility as a mining engineer’ (a sign she also knows how to play to her audience!) to her digs at the people who’ve challenged, yet ultimately given her even more drive than she was clearly born with, these were some of my favourite quips:

“So thanks to my bastard surgeon…”

“When this guy (her hospital physio) walks in – short, fat and bald, wearing a gold chain – I of course thought he was… a gangster!”

And when attending a Tony Robbins‘ conference (to appease her TR-obsessed dad!), only to discover he wants the whole room to ‘do a firewalk’, she quite brilliantly said to Tony Robbins’ ‘people’ (who informed her that ‘Tony Robbins knows who you are and he wants you to lead the firewalk’): ‘Tony Robbins can get f**ked.’

Her storytelling and ability to engage and motivate an audience (and to get them to do mid-breakky squats – twice), despite once hating public speaking, further demonstrates her theory that if you really want to do something – anything – you can.

Given the Engineers Australia theme to celebrate its 100th anniversary, ‘anything is possible’, Turia certainly exemplifies that.

Among many, my key takeaways were:

  • Own your challenges
  • Do the worst stuff first (so the rest of your day is great!)
  • Channel your capacity for kindness and compassion.
  • Oh, and do squats to break up your day

Thank you, Turia, for a genuinely inspirational presentation, and Engineers Australia for ‘making it happen’. Anything is possible.

A few of my snaps are here.

Happy International Women’s Day for Friday 8 March, everyone.

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