Our Women To Watch – The Star Director With An Order Of Australia

With so many talented women in our corner at The Star, we weren’t content to confine our International Women’s Day celebrations to the 8 March – so we’re declaring this The Star’s women’s week. To mark it, meet our women to watch in 2021.

We’re proud of the many strong, creative, professional and fierce women who represent The Star and our most-valued partners.

An UQ Adjunct Professor and former lawyer with a two-decade career as a non-executive director and board member under her belt, Dr Sally Pitkin knows a thing or two about smashing the glass ceiling. Sally has sat on a staggering 35 boards over the years– including her current role as a director for The Star Entertainment Group.

Fresh off earning the Queensland Division Gold Medal Award for the Australian Institute of Company Directors in late 2020, Sally went on to be recognised with a 2021 Order of Australia. The Officer of the Order was awarded to Sally for her “distinguished service to business, to corporate governance standards and performance, to the arts, and to the advancement of women.”

Dr Sally Pitkin
Dr Sally Pitkin

Sally used her win to reaffirm her commitment to better representation of women on boards across Australia. With a leader of Sally’s stature on our board, The Star is poised to help put her words into action, with our aim of achieving 45% women to 45% men in leadership positions by 2023.

Sally sat down with us to share her thoughts on the eve of International Women’s Day.

On overcoming barriers

Sally’s service as a director and board member spans ASX 200 companies, government agencies, regulatory bodies, non-profit organisations and private companies. It’s given her incomparable insight into how barriers have come down for women over the past 25 years, and how much work is still to be done.

“My working life has spanned many industries, and I am pleased to say that I have seen barriers come down in each one, from the legal profession, to education, business, government, through to sport, and entertainment and hospitality,” she says.

“We still have a way to go, and we need to continue to challenge those barriers. Gender norms are deeply entrenched in our society from the time we are born, and changing these is an ongoing and critical journey.”

On the next generation

Sally is very aware that her experience has and will be different to the next generation of women leaders but would like to think she has helped smooth the way for them.

“I hope that my contributions mean the path for other women to fully participate in, and contribute to, our community is less rocky. Women coming after me will do things differently to women of my generation, but they should be able to enjoy equitable and safe access to opportunities to fulfil their aspirations, whatever they may be.”

Beacons of the next generation are already giving her hope, such as Grace Tame – the young 2021 Australian of the year who fought fearlessly to overturn gag laws for survivors of sexual assault. Sally would welcome the chance to sit down with the emerging leader: “to share with her my optimism and hope for the future because of the courage, spirit and sense of equity of our young people, and the work that people like Grace are doing.”

The Star Sydney International Women's Day walk and talk
The Star Sydney – International Women’s Day Walk & Talk

On challenges and caring for yourself

Over her career, Sally has been a champion for women’s equality and won many hard-fought victories. However, when it comes to smashing the status quo, she also knows the importance of being kind to herself.  

“Changing the status quo is a real struggle, and quite exhausting. Sometimes, as an act of self-care, I say to myself, “Today I will survive the status quo, so tomorrow I have the energy to challenge it.” It’s an approach that will help her face the challenges 2021 is set to bring –  including how we can all better work together to face the impacts of the pandemic. The challenge she is most excited to take on though is a personal one. “In June, I will become a grandmother, and I am excited, and a bit unnerved, about welcoming this new life to the world.”

Check out “Our Women To Watch” series: