The year 1983 was memorable for three reasons. The first was the big dust storm that plunged Victoria into darkness. I remember looking out my office window and seeing it approach across the paddocks, a consequence of the ongoing drought, and an ominous precursor to my second memory, the tragic Ash Wednesday fires.
The third was being asked if I’d like a computer in my office. ‘No!’ I replied. I was well established in a personal assistant role with a local food manufacturing company, our rural town’s major employer. I had my systems in place, and I was a good touch typist. Why on earth would I need a computer? From the perspective of today’s technological age, it is hard to imagine my reaction back then, but fear of change often holds us back.
Thirty-five years later, so much has changed about my working life. Technology has been a game-changer, especially for rural women. We now have the flexibility to work from home and at times that suit us and our family. Not only that, our geographic reach is so much further. The world is literally at our finger tips. Now I run Operation Next Gen, a program to help rural towns diversify and grow through entrepreneurship. The program has recently gone Australia-wide and would not have succeeded without technology and the range of digital and online tools available to us today.
Face-to-face communication is still essential. I still do my fair share of driving long, lonely roads and accumulating frequent flyer points, but technology keeps me in touch daily. Email, video conferencing, and social media allows me to maintain a digital presence, which is the next best thing to a physical presence, and much more time-efficient for everyone concerned. My networks now extend worldwide, resulting in regular overseas travel.
Research is a dream with ‘Google’ and, now I know what a hashtag is, Twitter is my best friend. My notes and links are safely backed up ‘in the cloud’ and easily retrieved when designing a workshop, drafting a keynote, or when writing my book, Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business.
Sharing information is so much easier. I have my own website, a blog, and various social media platforms that deliver relevant and targeted information on a timely schedule. Instead of driving up to 500 kilometres to deliver a workshop to 15 participants, I can invite people worldwide to an online webinar. To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, I hosted seven webinars over seven days from my kitchen table, chatting with special guests hundreds of kilometres away. Every webinar is recorded and posted on my website as an added resource.
Today I embrace change. Thanks to technology, rural women can now have a global presence.
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