Gemma O’Neill appointed CEO of Business Chicks

Gemma O’Neill appointed CEO of Business Chicks

Gemma O'Neill

Business Chicks is planning its next phase of growth under the leadership of Gemma O’Neill (nee Fordham), who is set to take the reins as CEO next month.

O’Neill joins the 17-year-old organisation from the radio industry, where she previously led Southern Cross Austereo’s Hit Network. She is also the founder of talent management business, Gemmie Agency, which she will continue to retain ownership of while taking on the new role.

O’Neill has been in the Business Chicks “orbit”  for some time, said founder Emma Isaacs, and “sees mammoth potential for our future”.

“I’ve long respected Gemma as a phenomenal operator and am excited at the prospect of innovation and possibility she now brings to the brand,” Isaacs added in a statement.

Business Chicks operates an online membership community and print magazine, but is likely best known for its events, both in Australia and the US, which have featured the likes Richard Branson, Brené Brown, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gloria Steinem, Nicole Kidman, Elizabeth Gilbert and Naomi Simson

The business was “highly impacted” by the pandemic, said Isaacs, who described the past few years as “rocky”. This stemmed from not being able to hold events, or bring international talent out to Australia. However, the founder says Business Chicks’s “resolve and infrastructure has always been strong”.

“We’re now well positioned to take the business to the next level and I’m beyond confident that Gemma is the person to do that,” she added.

Isaacs has led Business Chicks’ global ventures since early 2016, with Olivia Ruello taking on the local CEO position between 2016 and the end of 2021. As founder, Isaacs said she will continue to work on developing global talent and products, while also focusing on writing books, speaking engagements and brand ambassadorships.

“My strength has never been in operations or the day-to-day”, she said. “I’m a scrappy entrepreneur at heart and am happiest when I’m creating and  focusing on the bigger picture.” 

“One of the keys to running a successful business is knowing what you’re good at and filling in the gaps with people who excel where you don’t. This strategic appointment of Gemma O’Neill is a perfect example of that.” 

O’Neill, who will commence with Business Chicks on August 1, described her new role as “the greatest gift” as it combines her love of content and business strategy with supporting women.

“I’ve been lucky enough to experience the Business Chicks magic at many of the events and I’m excited to take the business into the next phase. I’m passionate about  helping women shine professionally and personally and look forward to offering our  members and community more opportunities to engage, connect and thrive.” 

This is an edited version of a piece that first appeared on SmartCompany.

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