Entitled ‘Breaking the Mould: Women in Leadership with a Desire to Inspire’, the event featured a panel of Italo-Australian women who have each achieved great success in their respective fields.

President of ALTO, Steven Perri, began the evening by thanking event organisers and all members of the association for their support.

He then passed the microphone to David La Greca, who introduced Ms Frankie owners, Ioanna and Melinda.

“Like many Melburnians, we are the daughters of Italian and Greek immigrant parents, coming from a family of contadini (farmers) who lived and worked off the land,” Melinda said.

“We didn’t grow up with much, but the table was always full of fresh food.

“We wanted to bring this experience to a restaurant environment.”

Italo-Australian sports reporter and F1 Grand Prix co-host, Emma Notarfrancesco, emceed the event and spoke of her own career, touching on discrimination in the world of sports.

“It took me some time, but I’m proud of having made it,” she said.

Notarfrancesco then asked Catherine Cervasio, the founder and CEO of Aromababy, what her secret to success was.

“There will always be obstacles in life,” Cervasio replied.

“You just have to know what your priorities are and focus on the end result.”

This particular advice resounded with many of the entrepreneurs in the room.

The Hon. Grace Portolesi, former South Australian Labor MP, also spoke, sharing her experience as a female in politics.

“It wasn’t easy,” she admitted.

“It’s a job which requires complete dedication to what you’re doing.

“There’s not much space for women in the world of politics, even today.

“I hope I’ve done my part to change this old rule: there’s never a good time for women to start a career in politics – you’re either young and have to start a family or, as the years go on, you have to look after your parents.”

Portolesi concluded with a few words of wisdom: “My advice is to do what you love.”

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio – who has supported ALTO since its beginnings – also spoke on the evening.

“I’ve always believed in the power of women,” she said.

“My family taught me break the mould: my mother was a hard worker and a great source of inspiration for me.”

In conclusion, the night was filled with good food, networking and celebrating successful women across all sectors.