Women To Watch: Thrive PR + Communications Leilani Abels

Women To Watch: Thrive PR + Communications Leilani Abels

At B&T, We are staunch believers that every woman and her achievements should be celebrated, every day and always.

However, unfortunately, the achievements of women often go unnoticed. That’s why we launched our annual B&T Women in Media Awards – to recognise the amazing accomplishments of women across the marketing, communications and advertising industry.

In honour of our WIM Awards, we’re chatting to industry powerhouses; women we should all be keeping an eye on — women to watch.

Today we’re hearing from Thrive PR + Communication’s founder and managing director, Leilani Abels.


Leilani Abels, Thrive PR 2

The B&T Women in Media Awards are exceptionally important to showcase and celebrate the incredible women who shape our media industry. The Women in Media Power List recognises and combines diverse representatives from different sectors across the media landscape in one esteemed list. To include public relations agency owners & CEOs amongst these incredible women in media, shows how the PR industry has matured and how much more influential public relations is in Australia. As founder of Thrive, one of the largest independent PR agencies in the region, I’m grateful to be nominated on that list and to be a judge of the awards, as well as entering the Thrive team across several categories.

The most influential woman in my life is my mum. She lobbied our local MP when I was rejected twice from RMIT’s highly regarded PR course. I guess that’s where my negotiating skills and tenacity stems from. Given I eventually got into that course and started Thrive two years later, it’s got to be Mum hands down!

I think the biggest impediment to pay equality is time, our childcare system and more women at the top of corporate Australia. We will never be equal while the childcare system and our government fail to properly support the primary carer and recognise that we don’t operate in a 9 to 5 world, particularly in media. We need more female CEOs and Board Members influencing how businesses remunerate regardless of gender.

My colleague Colin Crowell, VP Global Public Policy for Twitter based in DC, is a huge champion for women and has empowered us locally to introduce programs to support gender equality and diversity. Programs we’ve developed with the brilliant local Twitter team have rolled out across the globe, have given women a voice, have taught them how to stay safe online, and have brought remarkable women together to support each other.

If I was PM I’d be radically overhauling the childcare system and innovating, providing incentives to businesses like subsidies for childcare for workers, looking at 24/7 and more flexible care options, changing legislation to allow for childcare holidays, and investing in educators to value them like nurses and doctors. Childcare access has an enormous impact on a woman’s ability to return to work (and remain mentally and emotionally healthy). A government who makes some radical changes in this area will make a profound impact on equality in our country.

Quickfire Questions

What’s a little something everyone can do today that could potentially make a massive change in the struggle for equality?

Involve more amazing men in the conversation and collaborate with them on the action needed.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

A colleague and good friend encouraged me not long after I established Thrive, to commit to continuous improvement. It’s a value imbedded at Thrive today. I do this every day as I run the agency. I’m constantly looking across the business – whether it’s client service, our HR or with technology – always looking for ways to do things better.


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Leilani Abels Thrive PR + Communications

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