Travel Agents

Key takeaways from Kristina Keneally’s keynote at Women in Travel

Amy Bryant

It was full of excitement and applause at this year’s Women in Travel Awards event, where women from all faces of the travel industry were celebrated for their unremitting efforts and achievements.

Following the obligatory photo snaps, canapés and champagne, guests assembled to hear from one of Australia’s most recognised female role models: Kristina Keneally. After a long and successful career in parliament, Keneally, the former premier of New South Wales and Member of Parliament, now works as a political commentator and TV presenter. At the WIT event, she delivered an inspiring keynote address that focused on empowering women.

 

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Women and men in the audience were kept entertained and well-engaged with Keneally’s humorous anecdotes and motivational messages regarding power. The theme that continued to prevail throughout her speech was her key message: power is not something that is given; it is something that must be taken.  Women cannot wait for power to land in their lap, because it will never happen that way. It needs to be worked for.

“Exercising power is not that different to a muscle – the more you do it the stronger you become”, Keneally said.

The notion that power is achieved through hard work and determination – that individuals empower themselves – reached a point of unity with the overall purpose of the evening. This event was about commending women who demonstrated incredible strength throughout the year.

Keneally reminded the audience of the reality that all individuals experience fear and failure.

“The idea of exercising power is terrifying.”

She shared her first-hand experience of fear in parliament, alluding to her first parliamentary address in 2003. Back then, Keneally was representing her State as premier, and showing her face to the public as their elected leader, for the very first time – an incredibly daunting affair. During her first cabinet meeting, Keneally explained how she was unable to shake her nerves despite hours of preparation. However, over time, Keneally’s message was that practice and ongoing diligence eventually led to her empowerment.

She offered the advice that; “We don’t always feel power, male and female alike… but if you don’t feel confident just tell yourself that you are. You just have to keep exercising it until it’s stronger.”

She lightheartedly confessed that the best way to feel power is to fake it until you make it.

“Seeking empowerment and seeing influence begins before we even speak. It is about how we carry ourselves and walk into a room. We send messages before we open our mouths. Send the message that ‘you have something to be heard’.”

Keneally emphasised that failure should be appreciated as a learning curve, because our mistakes help us become empowered.



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