Meet the panel – Inventors and Innovators female founders

We caught up with Kristy Chong, Rona Glynn-McDonald and Shamila Gopalan (panel moderator) from our upcoming Inventors and Innovators female founders event.

Don’t miss this online event on 11 March 2021, in honour of International Women’s Day. Inventors and Innovators will run bi-monthly. 

Kristy ChongPhoto of Kristy Chong. She is wearing a red dress and smiling.

CEO and founder of Modibodi

What does a typical work day look like for you?

No two days are the same. Each morning can be a little crazy at home with four children to get ready, even before the workday commences.

I split my week between half in-office days, and half at home. For those in-office days it tends to be back-to-back meetings to review progress, make decisions, troubleshoot, and suggest improvements with department leads across marketing, customer experience, finance, operations, product development, HR and social impact.

On days at home I am often writing processes and managing emails, reviewing and approving project plans, content, reports, and financials, analysing information and data, and thinking through ways to improve or grow the business.

At least once or twice a week I usually participate in some sort of media interview or article as well, which often requires preparation.

What one piece of advice would you give to women starting out in business? 

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you embark on your own business it will push you out of your comfort zone daily.

About Kristy

Kristy Chong is the CEO and founder of Modibodi, a revolutionary high-tech leak-proof underwear brand that empowers bodies of all ages, shapes and sizes to live a better life. With over 13 years in senior management public relations roles for multinational organisations including McDonald’s Australia, Sanofi-Aventis and Edelman PR, Kristy has worked with some of the most renowned brands in the business. Beyond selling leak-proof apparel that empowers people’s lives, Kristy is committed to empowering all bodies, no matter their socio-economic status, championing a more sustainable world, helping to end period poverty, and normalising conversations around all bodies and leaks.

Headshot of Rona Glynn-McDonald. She wears a white shirt and beaded necklace and has Aboriginal artwork behind her.Rona Glynn-McDonald

CEO and founder of Common Ground 

What does a typical work day look like for you? 

I like to get in early to work. I find that my best hours are between 8am and 10am and try to not schedule meetings then. Each day I’m switching between day-to-day management of our team, meeting partners, writing proposals or doing project work. It’s always dynamic and exciting and each day is very different.  

What one piece of advice would you give to women starting out in business? 

Listen to your intuition and make decisions based on what feels right for you and your community, rather than what the world tells you you should be doing. 

About Rona

Rona is a proud Kaytetye woman who works with high impact organisations to propel social change. She has a background in economics and a deep curiosity and passion for disruptive ideas. Rona is the founder of Common Ground, an Aboriginal-led not for profit that shares Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and lived experiences. Rona is also the Director of First Nations at YLab, a social enterprise that puts young people with diverse lived experiences at the centre of designing and developing innovative and impactful solutions to complex social issues. Through her work with First Nations communities across Australia, Rona aims to create future systems that centre First Nations people, knowledge and cultures.

Headshot of Shamila Gopalan. She wears a peach coloured top and is standing outside with greenery behind her.Shamila Gopalan

CEO and founder of HerWit

What does a typical work day look like for you?

I have a very dynamic work schedule. Working as a business consultant to 10 different clients at a time from varied industries, at different points in their business, forces me to shift perspective and focus on so many different business strategies on a daily basis. I do enjoy how this keeps me on my toes and keeps me learning all the time.

I am, however, a creature of habit and have a set morning ritual. I wake up at 6.30am, and the first thing I do is always make my bed. Then I tidy up my house and drink a glass of warm water with lemon followed by coffee. Am not a breakfast person. I try to do a 20-minute meditation practice, then read or journal for another 15 minutes. My mornings are my space for reflection, intention setting and gratitude. I am huge believer that, in order to get the most out of my days, I need to be the best version of myself. For me that means doing things in the morning that energise me and create focus for the day ahead.

I then head into my office, which is a coworking space. I go through my emails, organising my calendar and to-do lists, and put down my top five priorities for the day. From 10.30am to 1pm on most mornings I have client sessions either face to face or on Zoom, followed by social media posts or updates. Then a quick lunch, and my afternoons which vary quite broadly. I usually go back to finishing off emails and/or meetings, research or brainstorming, some creative/project work and some admin.

I try to get to the gym, yoga or Pilates at least 3 times a week, so I tend to leave the office at 6–6.30pm.

My evening rituals are quality time with my partner followed by watching my favourite Netflix show, tea, and no digital (mobile phone/iPad) devices two hours before bed. Am usually in bed by 9.30–10pm every night.

I am aiming to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle coupled with quality sleep. So I try to work smarter and not necessarily harder.

What one piece of advice would you give to women starting out in business?

Be confident, but not confrontational in asking for what you deserve. As women entrepreneurs we bring unique and powerful perspectives to every industry, and walking in that power means walking with confidence – not arrogance or fear.

About Shamila

Shamila Gopalan is an entrepreneur and a corporate leader who has been at the helm of building businesses independently and in Fortune 500 firms globally, from CNN to National Geographic Channel through to Fox International, for close to 24 years across three continents. She founded HerWit to empower ambitious female founders to start, pivot and scale their businesses while amplifying them as inspiring leaders to ignite conversations that create positive change for girls and women around the world. Shamila has always been passionate about pushing the envelope for equality, diversity and inclusion, and recognises the power of having more female role models and leaders.