In celebration of International Women’s Day this month, we speak to GEMMA MANNING – AustCham’s Entrepreneur of the Year for 2018 – about her working journey as a single mother of two daughters, and about her new book, About This Girl.
Congratulations on launching your book! When did you start writing it?
I started in January 2020. It was a very strange time to be writing the book through COVID, as so much was happening “real-time” throughout the writing process itself.
Why was it important for you to write About This Girl?
I’m passionate about “inclusive entrepreneurship”, and I felt the need to start a conversation around the topic. Over the years, many people have come up to me and said, “Your story is very inspiring – you should write a book one day.” So, although it’s been quite a journey to get to this point, I felt ready to tell the story.
What’s the book about?
The book covers my story and highs and lows of being a female entrepreneur who expanded overseas. I also touch on personal challenges I’ve had with running my business whilst being a single mum to two daughters. So, it’s really my take on finding your authentic self and challenging the status quo. I also talk a lot about resilience and digging deep.
Tell us about your business?
I run a strategic marketing business called Manning & Co. I’m also the founder of Gemstar, which provides a young entrepreneurs programme for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and migrant communities in Australia. As a female, I’m very passionate about this kind of inclusive entrepreneurship.
How did the pandemic impact your business?
While my business has grown with a solid trajectory, during 2020 quite a few of my clients pulled back on their marketing spend as a knee-jerk reaction. I felt like the rug had been pulled from under my feet as I’d just hired and trained a team in Singapore, then I lost all this business, which coincided with Australia locking down.
I told myself, “Another challenge, another setback – I can deal with this”. Fortunately, we then landed some new business with one of Singapore’s most iconic brands. So I felt that my patience and resilience, and trying to remain positive and calm, helped me turn the corner. These are traits I believe are key to entrepreneurship.
What’s your core message to other aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Just because you’re female, it doesn’t mean you can’t follow your dreams. Finding your passion and your purpose and being your authentic self is how we can change the game. For me, it starts by making changes in my own household so my daughters have a “voice at the table”. Then I try to effect similar changes in my business world.
So what’s next for you?
I’ll be soft-launching my social impact movement called Light Years, which is an idea I pitched to Richard Branson. This project is designed to empower disadvantaged women through entrepreneurship.
About This Girl is available at Amazon Singapore, Kinokuniya and Gemma’s website, gemmamanning.com.
This article first appeared in the March 2021 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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