Growing professional development opportunities for women

Jodie Spinks and Jemimah Ashleigh at the EmpowHER event in Sale. Photo: Stefan Bradley

Tom Parry

A local non-profit organisation is giving women in Gippsland a boost with networking and professional development opportunities.

The organisation, EmpowHER East Gippsland held an event at Sale’s Criterion Hotel on Saturday, April 30, offering women the chance to connect with others and learn how to build their personal brand.

Jodie Spinks is the president of EmpowHER East Gippsland, and spoke to the Gippsland Times about the organisation’s founding.

“A group of local businesswomen came together and realised there was a need for networking with like-minded people in the area, because most of the time, rural and regional women have to travel to metro area to access good quality speakers and networking events,” Ms Spinks said.

“So we thought, ‘Why not bring the speakers (to Gippsland) and create something locally?’”

Ms Spinks views women being able to connect with others in-person as the greatest benefit of the event.

“Women, since the beginning of time, have come together and really fed off each other’s energy,” Ms Spinks said.

“That real-time connection and support, and being able to sort of brainstorm with like-minded women can be really useful – especially in rural and regional areas.

Ms Spinks was one of the key speakers at the event, educating attendees about social media promotion and marketing techniques.

Other speakers at the event were Caz Sandeman, an emotion wellbeing and resilience practitioner from Lakes Entrance, who talked about how to manage energy and stress; and Jemimah Ashleigh, the organisation’s Vice-President, who facilitated a networking workshop.

Ms Ashleigh – who is also an author and motivational speaker – originally hails from Munro, and is passionate about helping women grow their business, including in rural Victoria.

“I never knew business was an option for women until I was in my early 20s,” Ms Ashleigh said.

“If (EmpowHER) had existed (then), it would have opened completely different doors for me moving forward in my career.

“It would have helped me scale, build a better business, be a better mentor, and be further along in my career.

“This is vital for the younger women who want to build lives here in Gippsland, and also build successful businesses.

“There is definitely more opportunity than there’s ever been, but we want to really solidify that you don’t need to leave Gippsland to build an incredible business.”

Ms Spinks hopes for more EmpowHER events to be held later in the year. More information about the organisation can be found by visiting the official Facebook page at

Jodie Spinks facilitating a workshop at the event.Photos: Stefan Bradley

The Criterion’s Library Room was abuzz with activity.
Photo: Stefan Bradley

Jemimah Ashleigh, Kelly Asmus Albornoz, Caz Sandeman and Jodie Spinks.
Photo: Tom Parry