Recently I was in New York for The Stevie® Awards for Women In Business presentation night. I was a finalist in four categories and finished the evening with a Gold, two Silvers, and one Bronze award. I had to pinch myself! It was wonderful and a touch surreal.

My Gold gong was for Most Innovative Woman of the Year in Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations. It was great recognition for the work we have done at Bendalls in setting up The Female Social Network and it was a remarkable way to cap what had been a brilliant month of scouting out growth opportunities for the business in North America.

It was also an excellent reminder of some of the fantastic things women are doing in business. The awards night was dedicated to celebrating the achievements of female entrepreneurs and executives.

Receiving the awards was made even more special because of the company I was in. It made me so proud to have been recognised alongside these entrepreneurs from around the world, all of whom had achieved so much in their respective endeavours.

All of these women had their own story to tell. They all had their own journey. Building and running a successful business is hard work. It can be thankless and frustrating. A lot of the time you’re asking yourself ‘Why the hell am I doing this?!’ Here was a room of people who knew what that feels like. It was humbling and inspiring to be in their presence. To share a little of their journey.

I’m a massive believer in the power of female entrepreneurs. Listening to the speeches these women made, and talking to a few of them on the night, really reinforced to me the potential women hold in making a better life for themselves as well as the people they employ and support.

Whether the award winners were from the Philippines, Australia, Turkey, the US, or anywhere else, the message that kept coming through was that successful women in business, given half a chance, can do great things to help their communities.

Thinking about the potential in that roomful of entrepreneurs made me think of the McKinsey report from a couple of years ago that estimated something like $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.Yes, supporting women in business is a gender equity issue; but it makes so much economic and business sense too.

The international nature of the awards also reiterated the potential for growth that is available to businesses that are prepared to look beyond their fishbowl and think globally.

This is something Australian businesses talk a lot about but often seem reticent to do. In that regard, while I was in the US, I received brilliant advice and guidance from the likes of Australia’s Consul General to New York, Alastair Walton, and Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Nicola Watkinson.

I’m so proud of what we achieved at The Stevies. (I might have received the award, but it was my team at Bendalls that really won it.) In the flush of success on the night, I just kept coming back to how far female entrepreneurs have come over the past few decades, and how much further we could still go. What a wonderful journey that’s going to be!