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Businesswomen Think PinkTo celebrate Breast Cancer Month, we look at how two inspirational Australian businesswomen survived cancer and are now thinking pink.

Diana Ryall
The shock of Diana Ryall’s diagnosis came in 2000. “It was just my annual check-up, so I wasn’t expecting any bad news. I was expecting to go back

to work at Apple for appointments for the rest of the day and suddenly, I went from thinking I was healthy to having breast cancer.”

As MD of Apple, Ryall’s diagnosis meant she was going to disappear from a very high stress, and high profile job in order to deal with the treatment schedule. “It certainly made me stop and reflect on where I was in my career and consider if I wanted to go back and be an MD or not,” she says. “Did I want to leave it at four years in that position and look for something that was less stressful, more flexible, but still interesting and challenging?”

In considering her health and wellbeing, Ryall made all the necessary changes to her diet, lifestyle, and her career. “I believe stress makes a difference and I didn’t think I could continue my future as a CEO while I was under treatment.” After working part-time throughout the year, Ryall decided to step down and leave at the end of 2001.

“I remember the first few days of no phone calls and no emails and thinking ‘Oh god! What am I going to do with myself?’ I think we often define ourselves by our job position. If we don’t have a role, we find it difficult to explain who we are. I found that really difficult. It wasn’t so much about needing to be an MD, but needing to be able to say that I was doing something.”

This led to the development of Ryall’s own company Xplore For Success. Its program, called Career Resiliency, helps women to better understand themselves and the business environment. “We get some fantastic feedback on the difference it has made to how women see their careers and live their lives. It’s used by the likes of Deloitte, KPMG and American Express as a gender diversity initiative to promote and retain their women.”

Margaret Wright
Margaret Wright was executive director of Macquarie Bank when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. Before that she had been Australia’s first female partner with KPMG. Taking a back seat was not something that had ever occurred to her.

Her tumours were caught early and she went through radiotherapy without taking more than a few weeks off work. “In hindsight I probably should have taken more,” she says. “I think sometimes it’s a lot harder for women to say no than it is men. I didn’t tell many people at work either. I didn’t want people saying ‘Oh, poor you’.”
After staying at Macquarie for four years, Wright decided it was time to take a step back and left to write her book Mistakes Happen. Make the Most of Them, where she interviewed many of the country’s top CEOs.

She also got more involved in breast cancer awareness, developing and launching the Breasthealth site (www.breasthealth.com.au). Today, this is the consumer site for the National Breast Cancer Centre and recognised Australia-wide as an easy to use, highly informative site for all information about breast cancer. It gives women the information they need, when they need it. Wright is now an active Trustee for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and a regular speaker on the subject.

“I think it’s really important for other women to know they can get through it,” she says.

How you can help

Buy a Fashion Targets Breast Cancer singlet or tee
Visit www.ftbc.com.au for further information

Buy official pink products
From t-shirts, to homewares, party supplies, wristbands, pens and more, there’s something pink for everyone!
Visit www.pinkribbonshop.org.au

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Jen Bishop

Jen Bishop

Jen was the publisher at Loyalty Media and editor of Dynamic Business, Australia's largest circulating small business magazine, from 2008 until 2012. She is now a full-time blogger at The Interiors Addict.

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