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Carla Zampatti, Executive Chairman, Carla Zampatti Pty Ltd

  • 19 February 2016
  • The Hilton Hotel Sydney

Australian fashion icon Carla Zampatti was the guest speaker at the Sydney Catholic Business Network’s first lunch for 2016 – needless to say, it was a highly anticipated event given her high-profile status and wide appeal.

It was the first time the Business Network went with an interview format (Catholic Communications Director Katrina Lee provided the other half of the onstage banter), and the informal chat was warmly received by the audience.

Carla Zampatti showed why she remains a force to be reckoned with in the fashion, retail and business fields.  In many ways she epitomises the quintessential businesswoman, possessing a warm easy grace that complements the inner steel savvy that allowed her to rise to the peak of her profession.  Carla is also an example of the migrant success story; the path to her upward trajectory is a theme to which many Australians in this multicultural society can certainly relate.

Historically, as Carla herself pointed out, fashion was considered a ‘lightweight’ industry and not one that had always commanded a high level of respect among the more hardcore in the business communities.  However, through her early sacrifices, unwavering hard work and tenacity, Carla has been able to overcome not just the gender prejudices but has also carved a solid reputation for her business as both marketable and profitable. 

Carla’s business success makes her an inevitable role model for young people, especially women, wishing to set similar ambitious professional goals.  This is one which Carla’s own company is trying to address by providing work experience to students who’ve set their sights on fashion as a career.  To this Carla adds other essential ingredients including a strong work ethic, customer focus, the willingness to take risks, and even embracing failure. 

Today Carla Zampatti remains at the helm of her fashion label Carla Zampatti Pty Ltd.  She has served on the boards of the Australian Multicultural Foundation, Westfield Group, the Sydney Dance Company and SBS, to mention only a few.  A Companion of the Order of Australia is among the slew of awards that has been bestowed on Carla over the years.

The core messages that ran through the interview are those that guests – most of whom occupy similar positions of responsibility – can readily take with them including treating people with respect and recognising the value of productive workers.  While patently obvious any opportunity to provide a welcome reminder should never go out of style in any business.