Lauren Shuttleworth QnA: Women Who Go Their Own Way

28 November 2017

Lauren Shuttleworth is a social entrepreneur, gender equality activist and a Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum. She is passionate about women’s and girls education, gender equality and the economic power of women and social enterprise.

Lauren Shuttleworth is the founder and CEO at Words With Heart, a Global Shaper at World Economic Forum, a Speaker and Panellist. In late 2014 Lauren founded Words With Heart, an eco print and stationery company that funds women’s and girls’ education projects. She received a scholarship with the School of School Entrepreneurs, going on to be selected to the inaugural accelerator program at the Impact Academy. The social enterprise has been awarded grants from ING Direct and Macquarie Group, and counts some of Australia’s most reputable corporates as clients. Words With Heart has also funded more than 70,000 education days for women and girls in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Cambodia and Nepal in partnership with leading NGOs.

Tell us a little about you…where are you from, what are you passionate about, what do you do for work and play

AI’m from Brisbane, and really passionate about gender equality, and business that does good. For work, I’m the founder of Words With Heart – a sustainable print social enterprise that funds education programs for women and girls in the developing world. For play, I love to surf, to read, and of course to travel.

Why do you travel?

AI travel a lot for work, to Sydney every second week at the moment! And also for difference forums and events around the world – I just got back from an amazing week in Egypt as part of the Australian delegation to the World Youth Forum. But I also travel for adventure – I love learning about new places, trying new foods, feeling struck by the awe of a place.

Is travel a big part of your job, or do you make time for it outside of your career?

As mentioned above, travel is often a part of my job, but I always try and add on some travel for fun when on a work trip as well, even if only a couple of days. Outside of work, travel is really important to my mental heath. Sneaky 5 day trips here and there help keep me refreshed and I come back to work focused.

How is travel different for women?

AAs a woman, I unfortunately have to be much more aware of my safety when I travel alone. I’m always hyper aware of where I’m going and who is around me. Also culturally there’s often a lot more to be conscious about in terms of dress and behaviour – things men would never have to consider.

What do you think of our gender pay gap discount?

AI LOVE the gender pay gap discount! I think this brings an everyday awareness to the privilege men experience, and its something that we really need to act on. I’m a Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, and this year the gender disparity report has shown that for the first time we are actually going backwards when it comes to pay equality.

What’s your go-to travel hack?

AOh I have lots! I love to research a place back to front when I travel, so I know all the best places. For a few weeks before I go I like to watch Instagram stories from that location and often it points me in the direction of secret local gems – cafes, beaches etc. It also pays to compare prices online for accommodation – I’ve saved over $100 a night at different times just by booking through a difference site.

Got any gear you can’t travel without?

AI really like travelling with my polaroid camera – there’s something special about instant holiday snaps.

What are the top 3 destinations left on your bucket list?

A Only 3?! I would have to say Cuba, Italy and Cambodia.

Where would you go back to?

AI really want to get back to Egypt one day – I had just a short week there which was mostly work related. There is so much incredible history and the people are so generous and welcoming. The pyramids alone blew me away.

What do you do to stay healthy when you travel?

AI’ve learned to boost my immune system in the week before I go and then during – extra vitamin supplements and probiotics. Also I like to keep active – walking everywhere, biking, hiking etc.

How do you stay safe when you’re travelling?

AI send copies of my passport, flights and itinerary to a couple of family members and check in with them every few days. Researching a destination beforehand is important as well – knowing if it’s safe to walk alone in certain areas, whether you can safely catch taxis and public transport etc. I always get a local sim card so I can easily use GPS on the go and make calls in an emergency.

What’s the best way to experience a destination like a local?

ALook for ways to escape the normal tourist traps. Stay in Airbnbs, use EatWith to have dinner with locals. I always put a call out to different networks to see if anyone has recommendations or has friends that can show me around.

What’s your favourite word in another language?

AFor days after I return from a place I catch myself saying ‘thank you’ in the local language. ‘Shukraan’, ‘Arigatou’, ‘Gracias’ are ones I’ve used this year. Thank you is always a good word.

How has travel changed in your lifetime and how will it change over the next 25 years?

AWhen I first went on a working holiday to Europe about 10 years ago, facebook and social media were barely known. The internet was still in its infancy really, and everyone carried a Lonely Travel Guide Book everywhere. I remember being completely lost on Christmas Eve night in Germany and trying to use a little map to find my hotel. These days its so easy to use GPS on you mobile and off you go. I think over the next 25 years travel will accelerate. It will be cheaper and easier to get to faraway places. Language barriers will no longer be a problem in most places due to technology. The optimist in me hopes that travel will develop in a positive way, empowering local communities as opposed to exploiting them. I also hope that we will become more aware of the environmental cost of travel, that air travel can be greener, and important ecosystems protected.

When and where are you next travelling?

The next overseas trip will be back to Japan with my boyfriend in about a month. I can’t wait!

“Real travel would be to see the world, for even an instant, with another’s eyes” – Robyn Davidson, Tracks

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