Finding a way to strengthen her business skills and boost her confidence happened simultaneously for Michelle Redfern when she began the Executive Master of Business Administation.
Founder, Advancing Women
Since leaving school at 15, there’s been a disquieting voice inside Michelle Redfern’s head. It told her she didn’t belong, that she was an imposter.
When she enrolled in the Executive Master of Business Administration, Michelle was hoping to silence that voice once and for all.
“It was going to deliver some confidence and validation, and shut up the imposter syndrome that had plagued me all my life,” she explained.
“I left school early, I was a very rebellious teenager and I wanted to earn money and nick off basically. I knew working meant money and money meant independence and independence meant choice.
“As I got further and further into my career, particularly as I advanced at an executive level, I thought they’re going to find out one day that I had left school at 15 and didn’t have tertiary qualifications.”
Michelle had years of business experience before starting the EMBA. She worked at Telstra for 15 years and was in a senior role at NAB when she began the program.
Michelle said she rediscovered her love of learning while studying, but that was far from the only benefit. Her confidence levels lifted, her skills and experience were validated and she strengthened her network.
“I learned how strong my own network was and how easy it was to make new really positive meaningful connections when you’re in a learning environment,” she said.
“I learned more from other people in the course from different industries with different experience through group work and discussion groups than I could have learned from books.
“Being able to learn from peers and their experiences was invaluable. Then being able to connect, to advance and thrive, all of that happened in abundance.”
Michelle now runs three of her own businesses, all focused on advocating for women. She is the founder of Advancing Women, which operates a female leadership program and works with organisations to build greater gender parity in corporate Australia.
She is behind Women Who Get It, an online leadership development program with 2500 members, and is the co-founder of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Women.
The EMBA prepared Michelle for her life as an entrepreneur by teaching her the strategies behind various business models, including start-ups.
“It was enormously useful from the mechanical side of running the business,” she said.
“So when you’re doing a start-up, it takes you from idea through to getting the rubber on the road. It looks at methods of funding and finance structure, the different type of business models and the pitfalls that you need to look out for. I’m pretty commercially savvy, but it’s a different beast when you’re running your own show.”
The program also explored the creative side of business, which Michelle described as “just gold”.
“It taught us how to really innovate and create, and to have the confidence to back yourself on the products and the services you’re developing,” she said.