Information and Communication Technology is still changing our world. Information and communication technology is becoming more pervasive. Convergence between computing, telephony and digital content is really happening. It is no longer a spectre of things to come.
But technological change in society can be daunting. Many people are fearful of change. Government has a responsibility to ensure that changes are managed so as to maximise the benefit to society. Socially, culturally and economically, technological progress creates opportunities.
We are in the midst of social transformation following a period of dramatic technological transformation. How this transformation is managed will determine Australia’s capacity to serve its citizens in the 21st century and beyond and provide inspiration and leadership around the world.
Women have played a remarkable role in this transformation across society. In particular, women working in information and communication technology have shaped the way technology is applied. Women are leaders, trailblazers, entrepreneurs and role models.
These Australian women represent courage and vision: true entrepreneurial spirit. They interpreted how the world would change through the use of the internet. Their respective businesses were managed with impeccable timing and are still achieving phenomenal success.
They pursued a vision that was so new, no-one could give them advice. They used their intuition, skill, determination and grasp of technology to create companies that changed the world.
Tracey Ellery: Looksmart
Tracey is the daughter of working class parents in rural Victoria. She attended public schools before attending Deakin University in Geelong. She met her husband Evan Thornley through student politics and after working as a student services manager she and Evan left their jobs to begin Looksmart in 1995.
The vision behind this internet search engine was to create a family friendly place on the internet. The Looksmart search engine is a huge ‘white list’, with each entry assessed by Looksmart before adding it to their search directly. More than once they were within a hair’s breadth of meeting payroll obligation during the early days of the company. Looksmart shares equity with their employees and has created 18 millionaires among them.
Looksmart as a company has weathered the tech-crash well and Tracey and Evan have recently moved back to Australia from San Francisco. Their three children are testimony to Tracey and Evan's ability to get the balance right between family and work.
Kelli Fox: Astrology.com
Kelli Fox began Astrology.com in the spare room of their house. She built the web site at night and on weekends. Her commitment to her profession of Astrology drove her vision to provide more personalised services to customers. Her understanding of both computing and effective communication gave her the insight as to how this could be achieved through the internet.
Astrology.com was then purchased by i-village, a New York based company well before the peak of the dot-com bubble. Kelli and her husband David stayed on to independently manage astrology.com from San Francisco and have only recently moved on to other challenges. Astrology.com continues to drive a phenomenal amount of traffic on the i-village site and Kelli’s concept has inspired many other services companies on the ‘net.
Lyndsay Cattermole, founder of Aspect Computing, one Australia’s largest and and most successful software and services companies. Lyndsay started computer programming and systems analysis in the early 70’s. She founded Aspect in 1974 and when it was sold to Kaz Computing in 2002, it had 1300 employees. Lyndsay’s leadership qualities have been recognised over the years through here appointment to many community boards and councils.
Lyndsay Cattermole is another great role model n ICT in Australia. She joins the ranks of inspiring individuals.