Why living in the Illawarra is good for business

Inspiration was the order of the day at annual Illawarra Women In Business (IWIB) conference day and expo at the Sage Hotel. The five women who spoke all remarked on what a supportive community the Illawarra is to do business.

The day started with Lisa Burling, of LBPR, encouraging Illawarra’s Top Model founder Robyn te Velde to share the story of her career. Mrs te Velde recalled how winning a world hairdressing championship was achieved through perserverence. Of how a number of challenges put her behind the eight ball at the beginning of the competition and how she rose to the challenge and performed. It ended with Mrs te Velde not realising she had won the international competition until she returned to Australia. She spoke of her involvement in Highlights on Mental Health and the reason why she always chose to come back and live in Wollongong.

The theme continued during a panel discussion involving Ms Burling, Climate Girl and law student Parrys Raines and social media expert Francine Bishop, of Mayvin Training and Digital Business Hub. It was later carried on by keynote speaker Victoria Clent. The former TIGS students is now director of Aligned Funds Management which owns the Sage Hotel Wollongong and many others around Australia. All spoke of overcoming adversities and succeeding through perseverance, the acceptance they had as business people in the Illawarra and why they chose to continue to base themselves in the region. They said it was because it was such a good place to live and such a supportive community.

“I think the Illawarra is a place where you can feel safe to take risks, fail and keep trying knowing you will always have someone who will support you,” Ms Burling said. And being from Wollongong brought with it an element of surprise because the city was one of the best kept secrets in the world. Seeing the reaction from other people when they make that discovery while doing business with her, is one of her favourite things.

Ms Raines said her passion for and love of the environment came from living between the mountains and the sea. She will never forget that and she loves the close-knit and supportive business community as is showcased at IWIB. “When I speak internationally I always come back to the Illawarra and share what I have learned. I think the Illawarra can be the next Silicon Valley and the next innovation hub. I think that is a really exciting opportunity for our region”.

Ms Bishop said what is most important to her is who she is with. Where her children are is her home. “And where else would you want to be. We live in one of the most incredible places in the world.”