Hunter businesswomen Cracking the Code

Hunter businesswomen Cracking the Code

Women across the Hunter region are proving how valuable they are to their respective industries this International Women’s Day (IWD). Annually, 8 March is a day to focus on women’s rights and aims to address and bring into fore the issues women face globally. 

The NSW and Local Government Area Business Profiles 2021 found that 32.7 per cent of businesses in NSW were owned by women. However, the Hunter region shows more representation of women in business with an average of 35.49 per cent of locally based businesses owned by women. 

For some women in business, IWD has become a source of encouragement for women to pursue their ideal work situation and be the change they want to see. As a result, many have become trailblazers in shifting the perception and encouraging the new generation of women to step into their power.

With this year’s IWD focus on embracing disruptive innovation, leveraging technologies and providing education to Crack the Code on equality, Hunter business women are showing up to send the message loudly to the community.

To celebrate, we are shining a light on a few women in business in the Hunter region who are making an impact and want to impart their own learnings for the new generation’s benefit.


Marika Lynch – Valorium Advisors

The all-female team at Valorium Advisors are thriving in the typically male dominated finance industry. Founder, Marika Lynch said women need to encourage, uplift and support one another to succeed. She believes a great working environment stems from having flexibility within the workplace. 

“The all-female team was not intentional for us, but it has proven to be a successful, flexible and collaborative workplace,” Marika said. “We should feel inspired by seeing other women achieve and uplift, celebrate and congratulate them every day.” 

As a qualified Chartered Accountant with a Bachelor of Commerce, Marika lives by the adage ‘If you have the courage to start, you have the courage to succeed’. With this year’s IWD creating new social, economic, and cultural codes for a gender equal future, Marika is paving a new path for women in accounting.


Catherine Henry – Catherine Henry Lawyers

Lawyer and social justice advocate, Catherine Henry has been working for decades to accelerate gender equality in the legal profession and more broadly. Her firm, Catherine Henry Lawyers, consistently exceeds the set targets in the Law Council’s Equitable Briefing Policy which have been designed to increase the proportion of briefings to female barristers.

Catherine leads and supports initiatives to promote gender equality for women lawyers, particularly in regional and rural areas. She was the founder and long-time convenor of the Newcastle chapter of the NSW Women Lawyers Association and is a founding member of the newly established NSW Women Regional Lawyers. The firm actively supports the University of Newcastle’s Empower program for women law and business students and its and other law schools’ gender equality initiatives.

Achieving gender equality in access to justice and quality healthcare is another of Catherine’s passions. Catherine says women access health services more than men, but their complaints and needs are not always taken as seriously. Her firm has produced two free e-books to help empower women navigating the legal system on an equal footing, particularly in relation to health and aged care.

“It is important for businesses to publicly make a commitment to gender equality and encourage others to adopt work practices and policies that drive gender equality,” Catherine said.


Jenny Gitzel – Lagoon Arts & Ceramics

Founder of Lagoon Arts & Ceramics, Jenny Gitzel has found progress in balancing her passion (side hustle) with her employment, to live out both her career and personal goals. 

She says that the IWD movement is an eyeopener and believes that a focus on community programs can help to support and empower women. 

“International Women’s Day resonates with my focus on protecting and advocating for women and children’s rights, and pushing for women to have an active role in their community as well as a voice in politics,” Jenny said. 

“Importantly, there’s no straight line defining how we achieve the things we want to achieve – just like art, it can take many different forms. Nowadays that path is less linear, but that’s ok! Find the way that works for you and follow your path.”


Kerri-Ann Hooper – Carnelian Projects 

Carnelian Projects was founded by Kerri-Ann Hooper with a mission to make buying land and building a home more accessible for everyone. In her career, Kerri-Ann has sought more control over her working day and life, and wanted to leave a legacy in the industry. Kerri-Ann launched the business to help people navigate an overly male and complex industry shrouded by a lot of misinformation. 

“I wanted to help people build their homes. Shelter is one of life’s essentials and what better job is there than helping someone achieve that dream,” Kerri-Ann said. 

She has defined her business as a service empowering all to make a more informed decision regarding their dream home and has even brought a collection of home designs into the market.

“Sometimes all women need is access to information and the agency to define what they want and go for it. I encourage women in the Hunter to seek what they need and use it to take the lead in their own lives.”

The women featured are just a sample of the many success stories and voices from within the Hunter region who will be sharing messages of advice during IWD this week.

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