Energy Disruptors is a catalyst for bold, game-changing solutions to the world’s biggest energy challenges. In 2018, we brought together global leaders like Sir Richard Branson, New York Times best-selling author Susan Cain, Suncor’s Steve Williams, Bloomberg’s Michael Liebreich and Formula-E World Champion Lucas DiGrassi to ignite conversations and collaborations to drive transformation in the energy sector.
On September 17th, 2019,the world’s boldest energy trailblazers will collide in Calgary to redefine future energy. For two full days, the Oil and Gas industry will join forces with the influencers at the forefront of energy transformation. This year, Sir Ken Robinson and Malcolm Gladwell will be joining the conversation at EDU2019.
Together we will cross industry and policy barriers, break restraints on thought and harness the powerful potential of human ingenuity and technology. Together we will accelerate game-changing energy solutions on a global scale.
Most events start a conversation. #EDU2019 is a high-impact event designed to ignite action.
Holly Ransom was a very active outdoors kind of kid, which is hardly surprising for someone who grew up in Perth. She went surfing whenever she could and played lots of sport. When she was eight, she wrote in her school scrapbook that she wanted to be a Brownlow Medallist. So it came as a shock a couple of years later to be told that girls weren’t allowed to play football any more – as far as she was concerned, she was a ten-year-old Auskicker looking for the next level.
‘I remember bursting into tears – I was devastated,’ Holly says. ‘It struck me as so weird that I wasn’t allowed to do something that my brothers could do.’
That was Holly’s first real experience of inequality, and it happened to be in relation to gender. In her adult working life, she has made it her business to be influential in ensuring that equality is on the agenda of decision makers, world-wide. In sport, for example, at 27 she was the youngest board member ever appointed by an AFL club (Port Adelaide) and she was on the advisory board for the launch of the AFL Women’s League.
Holly recalls a defining moment at school, something that really got her thinking about how our ideas of gender equality are formed. Her Year 5 teacher loved giving the students logic problems. They would finish the day with brain benders, like this:
A father and son are driving home from school, and just as they’re turning into a road near home, they’re hit by a reckless driver. The car spins. The boy is thrown out of the car, and his dad is trapped inside. Fortunately, a bystander sees it happen, calls an ambulance, and the kid is rushed to hospital. When they arrive, the surgeon swings open the doors, and declares, ‘That’s my son.’ How is that possible?
‘There were thirty-four of us in the class, with 15 minutes on the clock,’ Holly says. ‘Our best guess was that the boy must have had two dads. Not one of us thought that the surgeon was the boy’s mum. That’s such an interesting thing to look back on, that shift in thinking between ages 8 and 10, from believing I could be a Brownlow Medallist, to unconsciously self-selecting out mine and my gender’s ability to be in that sort of role.’
Holly had leadership roles on the sporting field at school, and naturally gravitated towards positions of responsibility, yet it took her a while to recognise her own potential to really make a difference. ‘I found I could rally the troops, and I’ve always been quite mature for my age,’ Holly says
‘The big change was when one of my teachers sent me on a leadership program that really challenged my idea of what a leader could look like. I thought you had to be older to have a real impact, yet there I was with these unbelievable 14 and 15 year olds for a week, and they were volunteer firefighters and running amazing aid projects; they were making a real difference in their communities and schools. I was the runt of that pack – not in a competitive sense, purely because I genuinely had no idea that this sort of thing was possible at our age.
‘At 15, the trajectory of my life was changed. I thought, I’m going to get out there and have a crack at some of the things I’ve been thinking about. I discovered that you can be a leader at any age, if you choose to take that word and own it.’ .
“At 15, the trajectory of my life was changed … I discovered that you can be a leader at any age, if you choose to take that word and own it.”
After school, Holly ended up with a Law degree and BA (Economics) with a minor in political science. ‘I always describe my life as having a really strong sense of direction but loose hold of the reins,’ she says. She couldn’t ever have predicted the roles and opportunities that have come her way.
Underlying those opportunities is the fact that Holly has known what she’s passionate about for a very long time. She is driven to:
improve the lives of those less fortunate in our community, and generally raise the standard of living in our society
provide a voice for people who are voiceless in our current systems
engage other people in their ability to be agents of change.
But it’s all very well to have big aspirations. It’s much harder to actually make things happen. ‘I worked out early on that what you’re capable of doing as one person won’t even scratch the surface of what you can achieve if you mobilise a group of people. Very quickly, my focus became wanting to unlock other people’s capacity to believe in themselves as part of the change and the solution.’
“I worked out early on that what you’re capable of doing as one person won’t even scratch the surface of what you can achieve if you can mobilise a group of people.”
Holly’s impressive achievements, including her current role as CEO of her own company, Emergent, can be found here. Hers is an inspiring story of finding mentors and taking chances and learning from corporate stints at NAB and Rio Tinto, then choosing her own path. Her keynote speaking portfolio has taken her to six continents. She’s had many pinch-yourself moments with world leaders: she’s delivered a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama, has chatted with Barack Obama about her work chairing the G20 Youth Summit, and hangs out with Richard Branson.
And yet behind the highlights reel, by 2013 Holly Ransom was struggling. She couldn’t sit still – she had to be constantly doing things, stuck on the hamster wheel. There were warning signs – little things, cracks appearing – but she was too busy bouncing off walls to notice them. Luckily, friends and a good GP told her she needed to take better care of herself, that she needed help. She was diagnosed with depression.
Like many people, at first Holly wondered why she couldn’t just push through. Then she approached the diagnosis with her typical tenacity. ‘I knew I wanted to come out the other side stronger than I’d ever been. I wanted to use the diagnosis as an opportunity to reset. I sought advice from people who had my best interests at heart and made significant changes to the way I lived and worked. I exercised more control over who I was surrounded by – who I was listening to and being influenced by. ‘That journey from depression is the hardest thing I’ve done and what I’m proudest of. I was terrified of talking out loud about it, because of the stigma attached to mental illness, but it was the story behind my first Ironman in December 2015, and I wanted to let people to know they’re not alone.’
“It can hurt you and upset you to hear people saying you can’t do something, but you have to believe in yourself.”
Ironman is a gruelling triathlon: a 3.8-kilometre swim in open water, a 180-kilomtre cycle and a 42-kilometre marathon. To build endurance fitness, you need to train around 20 hours a week. Holly wanted to set herself a big physical and mental challenge, to show herself that anything is possible. As ‘a prolific goal setter’, she was looking for something that would really test her, and with Ironman, she found a bottomless learning pit. ‘Every time I train, I learn something new about myself. So it has massive flow-on effects for the way I work. It energises me, and I’ve learnt to put training into my week as a priority.’
Holly doesn’t spend time reflecting on her past achievements – there’s far too much forward thinking to be done. And with a second Ironman under her belt, she knows anything is possible.
“It’s wonderful to be included in a gallery of such formidable, impressive and inspiring women,” Haussegger told The CEO Magazine. “I love reading and hearing other women’s stories, and not necessarily the success stories but just how they’ve done what they’ve done.”Previous
Women & Leadership Australia established the awards five years ago to celebrate female leaders and increase the presence of women in business and community leadership roles.
Waters, who made headlines in 2017 for breastfeeding her daughter while passing a motion in parliament, told The CEO Magazine it’s important to celebrate the outstanding women creating a better world.
“I firmly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see,” she says. “At the moment, the parliament is pale, male and stale and we need more women in there, which will not just create a more diverse political arena but also go a long way to fixing gender equity issues in other areas of our lives.”
Haussegger, who won the Australian Capital Territory award, said it was great to step back and take a moment to appreciate the merit of women’s work, which often goes unvalued.
“I think the role of awards such as this can’t be understated when it comes to aspiring younger women,” Haussegger says. “It’s terrific; in fact, very encouraging to see women come together to share stories, hear from other women, and share research tips and strategies for not only advancing in the workplace but for also encouraging others to aspire to leadership positions and step up.”
As the awards increase visibility and momentum for Australian women to receive equitable access to leadership positions across all industries, Haussegger, who was the 2019 ACT Australian of the Year, works to educate the nation on gender equality.
“I firmly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see,” – Larissa Waters
Non-experts are more often than not solving problems that have stumped experts, because they are bringing an unbiased, fresh perspective.
Emergent chief executive Holly Ransom, motivational speaker, advocate for young people and high-performance advocate, said that as world economies moved from industrial to knowledge-based, organisations were struggling to include the right people “in the conversation”.
“Truly great organisations, great leaders in the period ahead will be defined or typified by the diversity of the five people they spend the most time hanging around with,” Ms Ransom told the Property Council of Australia WA’s annual Women in Property lunch.
“In the context of leadership, think about the diversity of the five people you spend the most time around professionally.”
“Is there an opportunity to inject someone of different age, gender, cognitive perspective, cultural background, sexual orientation?” She added, however, that companies and leaders could easily diminish the power of diversity and inclusion by failing to create an environment of trust.
Four of the five components of the “secret sauce” of high-performing teams — trust, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact — were rendered useless without the first. “You cannot have a high-performing team without psychological safety (trust),” she said.
“How comfortable do people feel being vulnerable and taking risks — stuff that is the lifeblood of innovation,” Ms Ransom said. “What work are we doing to make sure our organisation is psychologically safe?”
Google, she says, benchmarks itself on psychological safety, asking staff if they feel they can walk into a meeting and offer a different point of view, take risks and “bring your whole self” to work.
About three-quarters of future jobs would involve science, technology engineering and maths skills, areas of study in which girls were dramatically under-represented.
In some cases, old biases were unwittingly hard-coded into technology designed to, for example, recruit for jobs, or conduct voice-based searches.
Some tools designed to empower women in work conceived of them as employees, not business owners, as many are in the gig economy.
However, she said despite dire stories illustrating the need to turn around women’s access to finance, jobs, management roles and a share of procurement, clever people were using technology to right old wrongs.
She cited GetRaised, a platform designed to overcome the impact of the reluctance of some women to ask for pay rises or promotion, which resulted in 74 per cent of those using it in the first 12 months getting a pay rise.
Another was designed to ensure women didn’t cut themselves out of equity deals in start-ups, potentially losing access to wealth generated when companies listed.
In a later panel discussion, Vicinity Centres executive general manager development Caroline Viney said companies unable to diversify would fall behind in a rapidly changing world. She encouraged safeguards against hiring “people like us”, instead breaking down a role, the ways it could be executed and seeking a person with transferable skills to propel an organisation forward.
ISPT chief executive Daryl Browning said he had been encouraged, as a man with power, to take a stance against excluding women. Getting a company motivated to change, he said, involved appealing to altruism, “the carrot”, but also some stick, or the fear of risking “being left behind”.
CBRE Asia Pacific deputy general counsel Somerset Hoy said CBRE was committed to inclusion in gender and LGBTIQ equality and the idea of “bringing your whole self” to work.
“We believe if you can’t be open and comfortable with who you are at work, you are not going to be happy, or do your best work,” Ms Hoy said.
“We are one of the very few property companies on the pride and diversity employer or choice list.”
Holly Ransom joins host Craig Reucassel on ABC’s The Drum, alongside panelists Van Badham, Kate Carnell and Rory O’Connor for a feisty discussion across breaking topics in Australia and overseas.
The panel discusses the freshly released documentary by Al Jazeera titled How to sell a massacre, exposing One Nation’s promise to influence our country’s democracy as part of a failed bid to secure political funding from Koch Industries, a United States energy giant. The panel debates whether Australia’s gun lobby rivals the US, whether the revelations will change loyal voter sentiment, and whether journalistic integrity was compromised in filming the piece with hidden cameras. To what level will we tolerate breaches of privacy for the benefit of public good?
The George Pell case has thrown light on the issue of suppression orders and protection of the integrity of court proceedings. The panel discusses where the line should be drawn in journalistic responsibility between protecting the chance for a fair trial and ensuring the public is kept informed. With the 24 hour instant news cycle, international media pick up on the story second hand, rather than being told by journalists present in the courtroom. Who’s responsibility is trolling and where is the accountability of the platforms?
Also on the agenda is the “very small” NSW coal plant on the list of Scott Morrison’s energy projects, and the importance of engaging the next generation of voters on issues rather than “the politic at large” and the rise of independent parliamentarians. And finally, the need to preserve Indigenous language for generations to come.
Barack Obama, Richard Branson and three PMs have personally requested her skills. Oh, and she’s 29.
“I hadn’t met a leader who energetically presented the way he did. Others tend to be intense – like they’re trying to convince you of something. There’s a real calmness to Obama and an extraordinary security in how he fills his own skin. He knows what he stands for.”
I’m speaking with Holly Ransom, the Perth born, 29-year-old Australian businesswoman personally requested by Barack Obama to moderate his only Australian talk when the former President visited last year. As we chat, however, I realise that descriptor is just as fitting for Holly herself, a woman who is both incredibly calm and secure in her purpose.
A year shy of her 30th birthday, she’s one of the world’s most respected thought leaders, asking the tough questions to reveal the emerging trends and challenges affecting businesses and professionals today. In short, she’s an extraordinary human.
When I’m researching her for our whimn.com.au Power Women series, I’m struck by the sheer number of her achievements – more in three decades than most of us tick off in a lifetime.
Chair of the G20 Youth Summit (where she was called on by three PMs – Gillard, Abbott and Rudd), co-author of a UN strategy paper, AFL board member, keynote speaker introducing the Dalai Lama, CoffeePods podcast host, Ironwoman, Richard Branson’s dream dinner guest, festival creator and fearless leader of a business whose clients have included Microsoft, the AIS and DFAT. That business is Emergent, of which Holly is CEO, a specialised consulting firm focused on building the capacity of organisations to execute change. If this was the early 2000s, we could call her a “disruptor.”
She’s precise, a clear communicator, an optimist. On the topic of what power is, Holly is eloquent: “I’ll take this in an optimistic view – an ability to successfully influence an outcome for the betterment. That is power, whether individually or collectively.”
The Power Of Asking Questions, Even If You Don’t Have The Answer
It’s this ability to see the ‘we’, alongside the ‘me,’ that’s shaped Holly’s life. “My grandmother is my biggest influence. She’s always told me, ‘Holly, if you walk past it, you show the world it’s okay’,” Holly says, adding, “That was an empowering sentence to be gifted with as a child.”
For Holly that meant bailing up her principal for a school fundraiser where they donated funds to a local homeless shelter after a chance encounter with a homeless man at her local shopping centre. Reflecting the thought leader says, “I could see the problem, and something I could do to equal a better outcome. But ultimately you want something self-generating, so people can help themselves. It started there and has been propelled by continually asking better questions and pursuing a better answer by virtue.”
The Power Of Mentors
One of those questions is as simple as asking someone out to coffee each week – a commitment Holly made at age 16 – and has continued ever since. She credits the practice with supercharging her learning and career.
“I heard a line, from a mentor of mine once, which said, ‘how long does it take to learn a lifetime experience? Coffee’. So every week I seek coffee conversation or learning conversation for one hour,” she says. Remarkably, Holly says her invitation has never been turned down, “I feel lucky to have grown up in WA because WA was a very flat community and I was a very curious kid full of questions”. She’s met with everyone from politicians to CEOs of our nation’s biggest sporting teams.
“People make fun of me because of the number of mentors, advocates and advisors I have in my life. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an army of advocates to raise a young woman. They give me multiple points of truth and challenge me,” she says.
The Power Of Collaboration
Her most recent challenge and foray into the unknown is as co-creator of s p a c e, Australia’s first festival-like event to champion peer-to-peer learning and cross-sectoral collaboration happening in Byron Bay next month (23-26 May, get your tickets here).
The idea came out of a wide-sweeping frustration, “from George St, Sydney to regional Australia,” with leadership changes in politics and a general dissolution and apathy, says Holly. Always the one with the questions, she posed this: How do we stop the whinging and make a positive contribution?
The answer, or at least her contribution, is s p a c e, explaining her vision for the festival.
“It will bring together 300 people who care passionately about the future of this country. It’s not a conference model and you won’t be a passenger. There’s not a distinction between speakers and non-speakers. Rather than a think tank, it will be a do tank, driving activity off the back of it, and starting relationships.”
The Unbelievable Power Of Sport
You get the feeling Holly sweats collaboration. In 2016, she became the youngest ever woman appointed to an AFL football club board, joining Port Adelaide. She was 26. Despite being kicked out of footy at age 10 because girls didn’t play, AFL has remained a personal passion of hers – and watching on as the women’s league explodes brings her immeasurable joy.
“Sport is the silent social worker in this country. You can tackle big issues. In two decades time, I believe we’ll marvel at what AFLW did for gender equality,” says Ransom.
And in two decades time, I believe Australia – and indeed the world – will marvel at Holly Ransom, by then, surely, a household name.
When I feel powerful: When I successfully influenced the G20 leaders declaration in 2013 with a policy document and advocacy campaign. It was an extraordinary movement of young people across the world. It’s my proudest moment.
When I feel powerless: In the same year I was diagnosed with clinical depression. It’s a scary experience and was a challenging 10 months working through it. It puts you on your arse because your body is dictating things. You feel out of control. You feel powerless. I’m fortunate I had support structures and got the right help.
How I’m using my power: I’m passionate about inclusion and the role of tech is where I am focused. In 40 years’ time, I’d like my legacy to be as a leader who is using tech for good, tech for outcomes like shared economic benefits and higher standards of living.