What Next Now: Cronulla’s ‘ShireWomen’ bringing a women-centric approach to business

The latest episode of the What Next Now podcast series speaks to Steph Rey and Vanessa Gorman of ShireWomen, who are supporting women through events, education, promotions, and business support.



With a focus on women in the workforce, the new podcast What Next Now continues with its latest episode featuring an in-depth conversation with the founders of shirewomen.com.au

Hosts Elissa Dowler and Tam Henry spoke to Steph Rey and Vanessa Gorman at length about their backgrounds, careers, and what it was that brought them to work together on a project such as ShireWomen.

The ShireWomen organisation is a female-centric, educational, networking, events and promotional platform that was established for professional women and businesses based in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire. The group is women-centric (and men are welcome) and is devoted to providing help and support to women who are looking to build new skills, establish themselves professionally, make connections and thrive in their careers. Steph serves as the group’s Managing Director, with Vanessa taking on the role of Membership, Sponsorship & Events Manager.

The two women come from different backgrounds: Vanessa, an Aussie, first came into the workforce in the late 1980s, amid an economic downturn when the job options for her were not forthcoming, and family circumstances forced her to find whatever job she could to provide as best she could. Steph, on the other hand, is from the UK, and growing up near Liverpool, was surprised to come to Australia and find a very different working culture.

For Vanessa, she has seen firsthand how things have changed in the workforce for women in the years since she started working – initially in sales.

“I’ve had experiences where I’ve had to have my career fit around family responsibilities and fit around financial responsibilities,” she said. “I had to build a career around what I could fit in and what was available.”

To her, she sees this as a pattern that has repeated itself all-too-frequently when it comes to women in business.


The conversation covered the all-too-common problem associated with these flexible working hours, the stress women feel when they have to leave the office early to look after sick kids or arrange for after-school pick-ups.


“I think a lot of businesswomen do that; they fall into careers because of fitting around family or finances. They often put themselves last: they put their family first, their businesses next and themselves last. I think it’s good that people are out there advocating for them, creating opportunities for them, educating them.”

It’s this passion which informs her work with ShireWomen. The same can be said for Steph, who found herself amid a significant professional culture shock when she first came to Australia. From an HR and psychology background, she came to Australia to find a workplace culture with stark differences.

“In the UK, everything’s more equal, more flexible. Everywhere I worked had flexible working hours. Both women and men used these flexible working hours, so they’d have these core hours where you could do what you want. If you wanted to work 12 hours a day and have Friday off, you would.

“But in terms of management and women in the workforce, it was actually quite equal.”

Steph equates much of this to her working in Liverpool and Chester and the ‘Northern’ work ethic.

“Women tend to have their children and go straight back to work in a few months,” she said. “Most workplaces have very flexible work arrangements and nurseries in the building.

“So you can imagine me arriving in Australia and the massive culture shock that I had!”

“I was working for a bank, and my contract said ‘flexible working hours’, so I did that, but they didn’t actually really mean it.”

The conversation covered the all-too-common problem associated with these flexible working hours, the stress women feel when they have to leave the office early to look after sick kids or arrange for after-school pick-ups.

It’s the hope that ShireWomen will be an organisation which is always encouraging women to work in a way that’s best for them and promoting professional cultures where flexible work arrangements are encouraged, and networking takes place in a way that doesn’t put anyone on edge, or feel unsafe. For the two ‘ShireWomen’ women, it comes down to encouraging the right kind of mindset.

“It’s perception. The only way that change can be made is if you say, ‘This exists but I’m not accepting that’.”

What Next Now launched on 12 August. This podcast featuring ShireWomen’s Steph Rey and Vanessa Gorman is the latest of the first series of six to be released, designed to help listeners forge their career pathway to purpose and wealth. The show is aiming to help people discover what they want to do next so they can live the life they want to live.



Inspiring conversations about purpose, career and wealth, the podcasts are sponsored by DPN, an award-winning, professionally certified financial services and property investment company. Since 1996, DPN has been helping people secure the best deals on property and finance. DPN also operates Casa Capace, ‘homes to enable’ providing beautiful homes for disables Australians. For more information visit www.dpn.com.au








Share via