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International Women's Day at Cliftons

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Posted on March 8, 2024

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Cliftons Support for International Women’s Day

As an organisation, Cliftons proudly champions diversity and inclusion. We do this through a range of HR policies, our everyday actions, and also encouraging a mix of speakers with diverse backgrounds when we work with clients via our event management services.


Our goal is to work towards equality and equity every day, but International Women’s Day serves as an important opportunity to recognise women’s achievements, resilience, and progress towards gender equality. This year’s theme, ‘Count Her In’, reminds us of the importance of acknowledging and valuing the contributions of every woman.


‘Count Her In’ is also about promoting women and creating more opportunities for women to participate in the workforce and continue to progress their careers throughout changing life circumstances. We recently held a panel discussion with two of our recently promoted staff members, Louise Drappier who has moved from a Venue Manager in Sydney to Project Manager, Exams, and Merisha Haindl who has transitioned from a Venue Manager in Wellington to Customer Enablement Specialist. Here’s more from Louise and Merisha about why they love working in events, supporting others, and what ‘count her in’ means to them.

What inspired you to work in the events industry?

Events is a fast paced industry and that’s something that appeals to Merisha, who says “I’ve always been really interested in events and have travelled Europe with big room events up to 60,000 people and dabbled into operations very slowly, and started off as a volunteer and made my way up and really loved being able to be quick on my feet thinking and be creative.”


For Louise, a career in events felt like a natural progression after working in hospitality, including six years in hotels. “I was a bit done with the shift work – early starts, late finishes, overnight shifts. I wanted to move to more consistent work hours Monday to Fridays. I saw an opportunity to transition to the events industry and use my skills in customer service and operations,” she says.

Group photo for international womens day 2024

What is the most rewarding aspect about your role?

For both Louise and Merisha, the rewards of a career in events comes from bringing everything together for clients, especially when there’s a lot of elements to bring together.


Louise says, “When the day goes as smoothly as we’ve planned it, that’s incredibly satisfying. For example, we have very complex multi-site exams that take months to plan and lots of work goes into it. Before the exam starts it’s stressful, we wonder whether it’s going to go well or not. When it goes smoothly and our client is happy, it’s so rewarding to know that all the hard work is worth it.”


Similarly, Merisha says that one of the challenges of events is that a lot of things change throughout the day, but the satisfaction of managing this is an element of the job she enjoys. “People change their minds on their requirements or things happen that you don’t expect. I always think it’s very rewarding to have the support of the team to conquer those little issues without anybody else noticing,” explains Merisha.

What are you most looking forward to in your new roles?

In her new role Merisha says that she’s looking forward to learning new skills and be able to dive deeper into the matrix of how things work. Similarly, Louise is looking forward to meeting new clients, developing new relationships, and seeing a new side of the business through Cliftons exam solutions. “I’m also excited to make my mark by seeing what procedures we can update to make hosting and managing exams easier for everyone,” says Louise.

Women speaking an a work setting

What’s a significant challenge you’ve overcome in your career?

Like many women, Louise found becoming a mum and trying to find that balance between work and personal life to be a big challenge. Cliftons is pleased to have been able to support Louise through this transition and empower her to be successful both at work and as a parent. “Like many new parents, I had to evaluate my options and think about whether to resign and be a stay-at-home full time mum and move out of Sydney to buy a house. But I loved my job, and my career is important to me, it’s very rewarding. I was very lucky I was able to get the best of both worlds and work remotely,” she says.


For Merisha, the biggest challenge she has had to overcome was being a young woman working in event operations. “When I started my career working full-time in events in Europe, I was quite young. So my age was a challenge back then because I was managing people all older than me. It’s a learning by doing process for some of it – I have made mistakes and learned along the way. Being able to now be confident in my abilities and in my decisions is something I’m proud of,” says Merisha.

How does this year’s IWD theme ‘Count Her In’ resonate with you?

‘Count Her In’ is all about increasing womens’ economic participation, something that both Louise and Merisha identify with as an important priority.


“From my perspective as a working mum, I think there’s a whole dedicated workforce in Australia who wants to work. But after having children, sometimes it’s difficult for them to go back to work because there might not be childcare available or the times don’t fit in with their work schedule. So there’s definitely some progress to be made there – they want to work, we just need to help them go back and support them with childcare and flexibility,” says Louise.

2 Women holding up 'heart' symbol for International Womens Day

Similarly, Merisha also recognises other hurdles that are holding back female participation and progression in the workplace. “I studied psychology and what pops into my mind is some statistics that most managers are men and women don’t apply for managerial roles because of confidence. So I think encouraging wherever I can for the team here to take on supervisor responsibilities and have the confidence to step into bigger roles. That’s what pops into my mind with ‘Count Her In’,” Merisha explains.


Thanks to Louise and Merisha for sharing their thoughts. We’d love to hear how your organisation is driving change this year for International Women’s Day and other ways we can all ‘Count Her In’.

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