Young & Extraordinary Series – Laura Stokes – Director of TEDxSouthBankWomen

Laura Stokes - founder of TEDxSouthBankWomen

Today is the third in our series of interviews with this years participants in Young and Extraordinary –  a joint initiative of the Foundation for Young Australians and Australian Youth Affairs Coalition celebrating young and extraordinary changemakers aged between 16-25 years. A huge shout out goes to Alissa Phillips for being the lead organiser of the inaugural event in Melbourne this year, and for putting these incredible young Australians in touch with Ideas Hoist.

Laura Stokes is the Proponent, Director and Organiser of TEDxSouthBankWomen, an ambitious program which took place on 1 December this year and hosted a gallery of extraordinary women speakers (including the above mentioned Alissa Phillips and previously interviewed Justine Bloome). The purpose of the event is to empower women (and a few men) to change their lives their futures and ultimately their world.

Never underestimate the power of a smile.”

During the day Laura manages the advancement department of International House at the University of Queensland who’s mission is to spread the message of philanthropy within Australia to ensure that Australia is cultivating the strong leaders of tomorrow from different backgrounds. Laura is passionate about Social justice; women, youth and indigenous empowerment and opportunity. She aspires to achieve equal opportunity and access to education, support and empowerment for all.

What are you working on right now? 

TEDxSouthBankWomen – an event for women and a few men in Brisbane and the world to be inspired and empowered to proactively change their thinking and/or community for the better.

How do you make ideas happen?

Persistence. Optimism. Hard Work. Strong Support Network. Running. Good food.

What does your typical day look like?

5:45am – Run

6:45am – Leave for work

7am – 5pm – Work

6pm – 7pm – Walk and Dinner with my Man

7pm -10pm – TEDxSouthBankWomen work

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

Ageism and gender perception: I constantly face scrutiny in my professional life based on my age and gender. I think that people believe that because of your age you are less capable of achieving your goals. I think that can dishearten young people pursuing their dreams.  I enjoy challenging that perception.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

Never underestimate the power of a smile.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment? 

What about internationally?

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

…flexibility in work hours and different environments to work in encourage innovation, healthier employees and stronger work ethic.”

Breaking the working 9-5 rule. I think that slogging away at work during those times is not necessarily the best way to achieve efficient and quality work. I think flexibility in work hours and different environments to work in encourage innovation, healthier employees and stronger work ethic.

Name a website you would recommend to Idea’s Hoist readers?

The School of Life

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter? 




Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

It depends on who you are. Interested, full of passion and ideas – regardless we’d love to hear from you!

Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.

When was the last time you complimented and/or thanked someone on their outfit, good service, great work ethic, friendship, love and/or presence in your life.

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

Conversation over a glass of Pepperjack Shiraz and delicious Vietnamese food!

Make sure you sign-up to join our amazing community for Australians making ideas happen.

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