Members On Their Way

Members On Their Way: Cathy Ngo

Meet the HR manager turned stand-up comedian who's channelling her inner Lee Lin Chin to create a more inclusive world.

By Natalie Cornish

Members On Their Way

Meet the HR manager turned stand-up comedian who's channelling her inner Lee Lin Chin to create a more inclusive world.

By Natalie Cornish

Catherine Ngo spent more than a decade working in corporate HR roles for top ASX companies, before discovering she could pursue a successful career as a writer and presenter. She’s a mum to a little human and two dogs, indoor plant collector, amateur stand-up comedian and entrepreneur, recently founding Keynoteworthy to offer diverse speakers a platform. Here, Cathy talks creating a more inclusive world while channeling her inner Lee Lin Chin and listening to the Spice Girls. 

Future Women is the only network who, I feel, truly embrace an intersectional mix of voices. This means that events and social meet-ups are diverse in line-ups and topics. I’ve connected with a few members and formed friendships which is beautiful. I find as you get older, it’s challenging to meet new people. What I love about Future Women is that it offers a safe and inclusive environment for me to be me.

I’m currently working on a couple of projects, all in the inclusion and diversity space. I’ve just launched Keynoteworthy, which celebrates and brings together emerging and experienced diverse speakers on an inclusive platform. I run leadership workshops specific to culturally diverse and linguistically diverse (CALD) individuals on behalf of DAWN Network, a D&I consultancy. I’m also a freelance writer and presenter, and am currently working on my book on Asian leadership for women. Oh, and working on my next stand-up comedy gig and trying to keep my indoor plants alive. How do I manage? That’s a good question because its all fuelled by adrenaline and a love of what I do.

I’m lucky to be able to live my purpose. My love for writing started everything. I only discovered that I could make a living from this later in life. Words are powerful. They can hurt. They can heal. They can be a force for good and evil. But as a career, I never considered it. I always had visions that a writer was some bum with coffee-stained clothing and crazy matted hair – I’m not like that. I never thought I’d be a writer because my parents were conservative in their views of what constitutes a respectable career and like a good girl, I listened to them – at least until now. Asian-Australians will empathise and agree that our parents wanted us to be doctors, lawyers or engineers – or at least marry one. My family still don’t understand what I do.

I’m just striving for a more inclusive world, and to help others who want to be seen and heard whether it’s through Keynoteworthy, my workshops or my writing work. Just seeing the transformation in people brings the most joy in my life.

I’m currently reading a book called The Business of Being You, which is written by my mentor, Fleur Brown – a creative entrepreneur, TED Sydney founder and producer of The Entrepreneurs Show. I’m listening to The Feminist Podcast and The Moth Radio. Music-wise, my guilty please is the Spice Girls.

I love anything that Lee Lin Chin tweets, including: “Wish people would stop calling me their Queen. The monarchy is outdated, ‘Supreme Leader’ or ‘Holy One’ would work much better.” I love her sass, style and confidence. Sometimes, if I feel I’m not thinking ‘big enough’ (hello vulnerability), I channel my inner Lee Lin Chin to go all the way and to live fearlessly.

Dai Le, who is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker for the ABC, is the most remarkable woman I’ve met. She’s a breast cancer survivor, politician and also a very good friend. She’s remarkable because she is humble and always makes time for people, especially for my occasional drama.

I’d like to learn to swim properly, use chopsticks and ride a bike.

My driving force is my desire to help others find their voice and the confidence to kick butt.

Outside of work I love to cook some pretentious recipe I found on the internet that I’ll never cook again, cuddle my son and my two dogs.

The future for women is a world where gender is never questioned because we wouldn’t need to.

We can lift each other up when we show kindness and empathy, and listen.

I’m most fulfilled when I can see that I’ve made an impact through my writing, workshops and my business.

Self-care means having clean hair and nails – and NOT keeping up with the Kardashians.