Ann Sherry, former prison social worker who rose to head a major cruise ship line, has been named Australia’s most influential woman.
Through senior roles at Westpac, which owns the Bank if Melbourne, she pushed for paid maternity leave and flexible working practices, and created the Jarwun project, to connect skilled corporate volunteers with businesses run by indigenous communities.
“Women from all walks of life across Australia know of Ann Sherry. They know of her sustained work for women, minority groups, business and the arts and her outstanding reputation of making a real difference,” BHP director and 2015 Awards judge Carolyn Hewson said. “She is a woman of great influence and we thank her.”
Ms Sherry’s career in Australia has included public policy work developing after-school care programs and employment programs for people with disabilities, a stint as First Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Status of Women, and chief executive of Bank of Melbourne.
She told the Financial Review that of the lessons learned over her career, she would tell her younger self to take more risks. “Try new things, grab opportunities,” she said. “Be tenacious. The world will change, things will go wrong. Life is messy.”