By Caroline Tung
What began as casual conversations between Australia’s top businesswomen and sporting stars are turning into actions for change.
The Minerva Network - a volunteer organisation set up to mentor and support Australia’s elite sportswomen - held their inaugural workshop at Sydney’s EY Centre in May.
The event, which featured prominent speakers such as Rugby League legend Paul Harragon and Chief Executive of Twitter Australia Suzy Nicoletti, provided athletes with expertise in business, personal finance, sponsorships and fan engagement.
Minerva chairman and co-founder Christine McLoughlin said it was important for the athletic abilities of sportswomen to be recognised in a “commercial sense” away from the field.
“Minerva Network has been established at a time when we are at a tipping point for women’s sport in Australia,” she said.
"The level of interest from Australia's elite female athletes in developing their full potential off the field by working with an experienced business mentor has been staggering.”
The organisation works by pairing Minerva Stars (athletes) with Minerva Mentors who are open to sharing their experience and networks.
Minerva founders are committed to increasing one-on-one mentoring relationships, conducting more tailored educational workshops, and building connectedness among the women involved.
Mentor program director and co-founder Romilly Madew said the network was a way for leading women in business and sport to support each other.
Ms Madew said own journey as an active sportswoman with Surf Life Saving and Sydney Olympic Park Authority had led her to recognise the needs of Australia’s current generation of women athletes.
“Minerva Network is a collaborative and dynamic group of inspiring women willing to support each other,” she said.
“I have been dismayed at the challenges our elite sportswoman continue to face when it comes to networking, mentoring, life coaching and after retirement plans.
“Given their commitment and sacrifice to their sport, our sporting women deserve all the support and advice we can give them.”