The young leader

Interview with Holly Ransom

“The few things you are afraid of, you’ve just built up a perception of it, it’s entirely a mental game.” Holly Ransom.


At the time of writing, Holly Ransom’s last tweet reads: “fitness friends, I need to pick up a wetsuit for the swim leg of my iron woman.. any economical suggestions where to look?”

Because… you know.. we all have an iron woman coming up.

Having met the dynamic 25-year-old over lunch this doesn’t surprise; consider her list of accomplishments:

  • Co-chair of the Y20, the youth G20, where she met Barack Obama.
  • Youngest person to be named one of the 100 most influential women in Australia.
  • Chief of Staff to NAB Chief Exec and for Rio Tinto’s Sam Walsh.
  • Met Hillary Clinton, the Queen, been called upon by three Prime Ministers.

However, as you’ll learn through our chat her life hasn’t been all about the bouquets.

This is Holly Ransom Young Women in Leadership…


Martine Harte: Holly Ransom how important have mentors been in your life?


Holly Ransom: Hugely – they’ve been the single biggest contributor to my growth and development as a person and a leader.

I didn’t have a family that was interested in my questions or who knew the answers so the great thing about WA is it is such a flat state, you can email people and meet them and they will happily sit down and a have a conversation with you.

In my late teens I discovered the quote, “How long does it take to learn from someone’s life experience? Lunch.”

I thought, ‘Hey, I can do lunch.’ It made it kind of this accessible thing. I now have notoriously called or emailed or knocked on the door of most of the leaders of Australia.

I’ve never had a no.


You’ve never had a no!


Holly Ransom: From the captain of the Wallabies, to the CEOs of some of our largest companies, to 7 time world champion surfer Layne Beachley – they’ll sit down and make time. Which I think is awesome, you forget that people did that for them!

When there’s this real authenticity to your ‘why’ they can see that and you’re not wasting their time, if you’re someone who will pay it forward they can speak into that and have a positive influence.

I find Twitter is great for it, you end following someone and go out for coffee.


For readers who may not have heard about you before, who are you and what do you do?


Holly Ransom: That is a good question (laughs) I run a company called Emergent Solutions, we work with companies, governments and non-profits organisations to develop high performing intergenerational workforces, leadership and social outcomes.

We help organisations adapt their customer, stakeholder and employee strategies and engagement for the fact that we now have (for the first time in history!) five generations in the workforce and marketplace.



Can we share your learnings when it comes to public speaking with our community..


Holly Ransom:

1/ Emotional entry point: You don’t want to get up there and seek to deliver an outcome for your audience, you want to seek to create from an authentic place.

Choose an emotional point to your own experience, then it’s up to the audience as to how they choose to interpret it.

2/ Be vulnerable:

Brene Brown’s book changed my world. She’s a vulnerability researcher, it’s innately human – it’s the thing we look for in others, but it’s the thing we least want people to see in us.

It’s through embracing vulnerability that we ultimately will be stronger people, impactful. You have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage.


Thoughts on embracing fear…


Holly Ransom: The few things you are afraid of are fears because of the perception you’ve built up around them.

Fear is an entirely mental game. Mark Twain has it right when he said it’s not about absence of fear, it’s mastery of it.

Work with an audiences energy as opposed to imposing a message on it. If there’s not a connection, in will go in one ear and out of the other.

Whats an idea you’d like to see take off?


Holly Ransom: 

I’m passionate about bringing corporations, governments and not-for-profits together and looking at how we allocate human capital and resource capital to better unlock social capital.

The geopolitical system will shift in the next decade, what institutions look like from now is really, really interesting.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing what we’ve always done in a world with challenges we’ve never faced before. And I think we’re going to achieve outcomes and we’re yet to realise.


What is your best business learning at this stage in the game?


Holly Ransom: So many!

One of the best bits of advice I’ve been given is, it’s more important the leader you work with than it is the work you’re doing. I think one of the best business lessons: ultimately it all comes down to people and the centrality of leadership.

Position yourself to learn from and work for great leaders who will give you the autonomy and the license to create, develop, innovate.

And always balance advice with, “yes but I’m me.”

What are your thoughts on where our gender currently stands?


You look at stagnant figures on domestic violence, on pay equity on female CEOS – whatever way you want to cut it we aren’t cutting through.

What is the step change? What is it we need to be doing to be achieving better results and moving the dial. The great thing is the conversation is picking up and building momentum but we have to translate that into action.

We have to think about affordable child care, we’ve got to think about how we create and  invest in female talent pipeline. The business cases are there, there is no excuse, this is the generation of women.

Women control 75% – 80% of purchasing decisions in Australia. They’re the key to the consumption base.

Thing I would say is when you get to a point when results slow, you need to have a diversity of access points, into the story, into the business case, into the argument, in order for the size of the people engaging in the conversation to broaden.

There’s a lot more power in young women talking to young women: if we’re talking about gender equality that conversation could get quite interesting.

If you’re going to drive progress you have to claim the turf in a way that everyone feels involved. Changing our language so it’s not about women’s rights, women’s this.. it’s about economic participation, human rights, actually not something you should do because it’s fuzzy and it’s nice.


More Holly up soon: subscribe to hear first.


Find her over at her website Emergent Solutions

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