Most of us have read something that has made us stop and think, reassess or feel things more intensely. We asked 12 women to share the books that have helped to shape them into the people they are today, to celebrate International Women’s Day and #choosetochallenge.

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Bei Bei Han

Partner – Private Advisory

Book: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

It’s a dialogue-driven refreshing read, perfect for winding down after a long day at work. While it’s fiction, it certainly filled my heart with lots of thinking and reflection. The author brilliantly portrays the skewed system in America and how ‘good intentions’ can be as harmful as overt racism. It also touches on topics of gender, wealth and privilege. For me, it has made me more conscious of intent, cause and effect and how important it is to address our own unconscious bias. Would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in socio-economics.

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Brooke Burgess

Senior Manager – Audit & Assurance

Book: Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

This book opened my mind as to what being a leader could look like. It normalised that thing can get hard at times and it’s okay not to have the right answer; we just have to continue to be curious and ask questions. It defined “a leader is someone who takes responsibility for recognising the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential”. It sung home that it was okay to not be the person that loves the spotlight, or jumps at the opportunity to present in a crowd. It demonstrated that I can be courageous enough to take the opportunity if it arises. I recommend this book to anyone at any point in their career, certainly worth a read.

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Rachael Fawkes

Senior Manager – Audit & Assurance

Book: The art of happiness by the Dalai Lama & Howard C. Cutler

This book was exactly what I needed, when I needed, in a time when the light didn’t seem too bright (2020!). I am a Yoga instructor outside of work and even I am not always kind to myself on the inside nor do I always put enough time and effort into being still and listening to the mind. This book highlights the importance of being kind to others, giving a sense of worth to each and every human being, and putting time and effort into training and caring for the mind, as you would your body. Fundamentally we are all humans, searching for happiness, and hence we’re all connected in this way, if nothing else. This book reminds us that happiness is a choice; you don’t always have to change everything in your life to be happy, rather look right in front of you and realise what you do have instead of comparing your life to others, which will always leave you lacking.

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Jane Stanton

Director – Risk Consulting

Book: The Ascent of Everest by John Hunt

As a child, I stumbled across The Ascent of Everest in my family’s bookshelf. It was a first edition, published in 1953 following the first ascent of Everest. I inhaled it and my wanderlust was born! It has never left me and I doubt that it ever will. In fact, the more I travel, the stronger it gets. To stand at the base of an 8,000m high mountain is an almost mythical experience. It’s a mix of strength and vulnerability. The strength comes from the journey to reach the mountains … challenging yourself to trek for weeks at altitude … and knowing that the reward is standing in a place on this earth that is truly unique. There is a belief that the mountains choose who can come close. The vulnerability comes from the sense that the human race cannot control the environment. We must respect it.

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Irem Aydin

Manager – Restructuring Advisory

Book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Like many people, I grew up being told that “life is short”. This book made me question that belief and I now understand that life is short – for those who choose to live the same day, every day, over months and years without leaving their comfort zone. I wasn’t always someone who is quick to pull the trigger on pursuing aspirations or taking (well-calculated) risks, so many of the lessons learnt in this book resonated with me. It is too often we underestimate our resilience and ability to prevail over life obstacles. Back yourself and go for what you want each day; our journey is what we make it!

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Katherine Shamai

Partner – Risk Consulting

Book: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

I picked up this book as a teen trying to figure out my place in the world, what I want to bring to it, and what are my values or guiding principles. This book really resonated with me because it was very much about navigating through different aspects of life. Throughout the years, I have come back to this book time and time again. Each time, I read the sections with a different lens depending on what is happening in my life; each time, I find gems that continue to resonate. Sure it was written in 1923 before emails and a breakneck pace of life, but the fundamental ideas are timeless which is what I love. This quote sums up the book: “If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.”

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Kate Lindwall

Chief People Officer – People & Culture

Book: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and Mindset by Dr Carol S Dweck

I love reading and I learn so much from every book I read but I found these two books in particular (Daring Greatly & Mindset) really challenged me. Mindset helped me see how the view we have of ourselves impacts so many aspects of our life and can either limit our potential or enable us to be successful. Daring Greatly really challenged me to reframe my thinking around vulnerability and made me see it as a strength. I used to really struggle to be vulnerable but reading this book really helped me understand the power of embracing vulnerability and how it connects to so many things like trust, courage, creativity and enjoying the good things in life.

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Lorena Sosa

Partner – National Specialist Tax

Book: Becoming by Michelle Obama

I think the value of reading Becoming is the narrative of how an African-American woman and world leader has shaped her thinking to overcome those internal thoughts of ‘not being enough’ or ‘not conforming to established ideals’. I found it extremely interesting to gain insight to her thought process for gaining confidence from within, every time she felt challenged across many stages of her life (whether it was her career as a lawyer or her personal life). Through the honest reflection of her journey, Michelle Obama made me reflect on my own journey – which in turn helped me see the value in my own story.

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Victoria Lv

Associate – Audit & Assurance

Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Elizabeth is such an adorable character. My favourite quote of hers, “My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me”, strengthens my own ‘stubbornness’ to stay true to who I am and not to be frightened at the will of others. There was once a point in my life when I was dragged into self-doubt by the actions of someone else and I lost track of my own values. I could literally feel Elizabeth yelling at me in the book, reminding me to be loyal to myself. Reading the book three to four times has helped to build a strong confidence in me that enables me to fit well in a professional workplace.

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Adriana Rodriguez Gonzalez

Associate – Private Advisory

Book: Hello, fears by Michelle Polerr

I have always struggled reading ‘self-help’ books, but Hello, fears just hit a little bit different! This book helped me understand my own thoughts, personality and start working on being unapologetically me. It helped me understand where my fears come from, how I interpret them and therefore how I can channel them (most of the time and with lots of practice) into better outcomes. If you’re looking for a book that challenges and helps you at the same time, then this is the book for you – because what’s the best that can happen?

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Sukvinder Heyer

Partner – Specialist Tax

Book: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

I am a somewhat prolific buyer of books and this one sat in the ‘to be read’ pile for a while. What a mistake that was. Once I started to read I didn’t want to it to end. The writing style is not traditional sentences and paragraphs – it somehow made the eyes flow over the page. The different perspectives engrossing in and of themselves and even more so how they woven together. And yet, the stories are as old as time – love, loss, pain and joy. Whatever the label which is affixed to us, this is something we all share. This book will be part of my permanent collection and re-read to recall that ‘different’ is superficial and we should always focus on substance.

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Gail Curtis

Partner – Private Advisory

Book: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood

I read this book long before the Netflix series, and it has remained embedded in my memory. The novel is a powerful warning to women about their precarious rights. While women’s equality may be volatile in Australia, the reality is much more stark for women in other countries around the world. The solution is to think critically and not ignore injustices. We should question the events occurring in the real, contemporary world, and whether we are giving those events the attention they deserve. Ultimately, however, the book is inspiring because of the unbreakable resilience, defiance and strength of its women. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Her name is June and she intends to survive.

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