Lisa LaMaitre BSc ‘96

Article written by Alicia Louise Lillington, B International Relations ’13 from the ANU Women's Alumni Network
13 July 2021

I believe for gender equality to be achieved more women need to let go of being angry. We need to focus on the good that has already been achieved. Celebrate the positives ... Include and take other women with us when and where we can.

Lisa LaMaitre is a multi-award-winning businesswoman, at the helm of Therapy Masters for over 23 years and the architect of a network founded on supporting people. 

With Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biology, Psychology and Neuroscience and an Advanced Diploma in Applied Science (Remedial Massage), she launched her Massage practice - Therapy Masters in 1997. Therapy Masters began as a home-based clinic, before moving to commercial premises in Canberra City in 2004. During the 16 years Therapy Masters was in Canberra City - Lisa built a team of dedicated allied health professionals who treated over 7000 individual clients. 

Before we delve into Lisa's story, she recommends Songspirals by the Gay'wu group of women. "It is the first time that traditional Indigenous songlines have been documented in a book. The authors are Yolngu women from far North Australia, working in conjunction with several female academic researchers."

Lisa lived at Burton and Garran Hall (B&G) for four years. "Living on campus really pushed me out of my comfort zone." Lisa was shy and quiet when she arrived in Canberra in 1991. She describes her first year at B&G as being a hermit - sticking to her room and a handful of friends. She has many fond memories of living on campus, attending social events, creating lifelong friendships, and most importantly meeting her husband, Dave. Her favourite thing about her ANU course was a deeper understanding of the human body and how it works. She developed interpersonal skills and learnt to live independently away from her family.

In her second year, she met a new friend who encouraged her to enjoy life on campus. "Her and I decided that we were too much alike to not be related (we both have the same quirky sense of humour), so we adopted each other as sisters. She helped get me out of my shell, helped grow my confidence and I quickly discovered that I am a people person!"

These people person skills, which Lisa unlocked at ANU, helped her grow her network and win a national business award. In 2018 Lisa was named Strategic Connector of the Year in the Altitude Awards. This award recognised her ability to meet, build rapport, support, and introduce people in her network, to connect and collaborate. Examples of this are introducing a new contact to speak at a colleague's conference, connecting an origami artist with an internationally renowned photographer which saw their creative collaboration on the cover of a Canadian art magazine, and helping a start-up entrepreneur receive her first media interview. 

Lisa feels blessed that to have created her dream job. "I am excited by health and the human body. I love connecting passionate people." In her element when she brings people together, Lisa comments "I'm passionate about sharing my knowledge and experiences to help people step up into their potential." Through her work as a health practitioner, teacher, writer, community leader and connector - Lisa is surrounded by all the areas that she enjoys. 

Lisa's interest in sports massage began while working and travelling with several Motorsport teams. From 1999 until 2001 Lisa worked with several Rally teams who competed in the Australian Rally Championship (ARC). From 2000-2009 she worked extensively with the sport of gridiron (American Football). She travelled and worked at all levels within the sport - from the local junior and senior grades, through to state, national and international representative teams. She worked with the ACT state team, four national Australian teams and a New Zealand national team. 

Lisa is a published health and business writer, with articles published in; The Art of Healing, HerCanberra, Massage Australia, Canberra Business Success Stories, The Fit Busy Mum, Canberra Business News, Big Ink, The RiotACT and Brave magazine. Lisa presented at TEDxCanberra Women, My Wellness Business, Mindfulness and Manifesting Success workshop, the Festival of Ambitious Ideas, Women with Altitude, Servcorp and at the Australian National University. She has been interviewed by The Shaker, In Her Narnia, ABC radio, ABC Life, WIN News, 2XX radio, Canberra CityNews, and My Wellness Business.

On gender equality, Lisa comments, "I don't know when gender equality will be achieved. I think it is a fluid dynamic that requires changes across societies, cultures, economics, values and beliefs." What she dislikes about feminism is the anger she sees fuelling so many women. "Anger is not a sustainable energy. It perpetuates itself, with more and more to be angry about, and it burns people out."

"I know a lot about anger. When our third business was targeted for crime I lived and breathed anger daily for almost three years. The angrier I got, the more I found to be angry about. I ranted and raved, swore, and forced my way through for years and years. By the end I was emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually exhausted. "

"It wasn't until we closed the business and I started working with a psychologist to deal with my PTSD, that I started to see how anger hadn't helped me. What I learned was that anger is a very masculine energy and while I was stuck in anger, I could not connect to the feminine aspects of my personality."

"When I let go of my anger and the masculine traits I had developed to cope (such as not crying, compartmentalising issues, pushing myself beyond exhaustion), I reconnected with my emotions, creativity and ability to align and manifest what I needed."

"I believe for gender equality to be achieved more women need to let go of being angry. We need to focus on the good that has already been achieved. Celebrate the positives that are happening in our communities, governments, and organizations. Instead of being caught up in anger - make the decision to create positive change. Include and take other women with us when and where we can. Be the role models that other women need to step up and create change."   

Lisa created a new business in 2015 called Canberra Wise Women. Canberra Wise Women is an event business born from Lisa's personal experiences of loss and PTSD. Canberra Wise Women is a platform to share inspiring stories of local Canberrans. To date there have been 25 LIVE Canberra Wise Women events, interviewing 58 Canberrans which have united over 1000 people!

Sharing support, guidance and real-world business advice to businesswomen and university students embarking on their business journey, Lisa has mentored in a range of programs. These programs include Global Sisters, Inspiring Rare Birds, and the ANU's MomentuM, InnovationACT and Pathfinder programs. Her work on the CIT and TAC panels are also voluntary. She feels honoured to be at a point in her career where she can give back and direct the future of the Australian Massage Industry. Lisa also volunteers with the community association where she lives.

Connection to family is important to Lisa. "I carry these women's DNA and I'm intrigued to feel and understand the links that whisper through my blood." Lisa recently researched her family history. If she could pick three people from history to have dinner with, she would choose some of her ancestors. "My family have been on the Central Coast of NSW since white settlement in the early 1800's. My 4x great grandmother is rumoured to be Indigenous from the Darkinjung mob. A long-lost cousin is trying to prove through DNA matching that she is a Romany gypsy. She also died under tragic circumstances." Lisa would love to sit down with this great grandmother, to learn the truth. "I'd also love to meet my Mum's Mum who passed before I was born. Apparently, I am like her in temperament and intuition. It would also be lovely to see my sister Anne who died suddenly in 2013."

In her younger years, Lisa looked up to her older sister Anne. "For me, any woman who pushes through regardless of the challenges facing her is a role model for me." Anne was ten years older and the first in the family to go to university. She was one of the first female students to study Agriculture Science at Hawkesbury Agriculture College in Richmond, NSW. Hawkesbury was founded in 1891 and was the bastion for farmers' sons to come to the 'big smoke' and learn how to run the family property. When Anne started studying there in 1981, New Idea magazine did a feature story on her and her female classmates, for being crusaders breaking into a male dominated industry and institution. "Now I'm surrounded by resilient and capable females who amaze me every day with what they face and what they achieve."

One of Lisa's close friends has successfully steered her businesses through the pandemic, while dealing with health issues and having family overseas dealing with the extremes of COVID. Lisa's mum is currently facing her own health battles and she approaches them with strength and humour. "My Mum isn't well and I'm balancing normal life here in Canberra and time up on the Central Coast to help my parents. With my health and medical training, I am the go-to person in the family to deal with the doctors and specialists. In one way I see it as the investment that Mum and Dad made in my education coming back to them, at a time that they need it most. Thankfully, my eldest niece lives near my parents, and she is doing most of the support they currently need. Her and I check in with each other, almost daily, and when I head home to the coast, it gives my niece a break. It is easy to support each other as we do things in very similar ways." 

"My husband and I have not been blessed with children, after facing fertility issues due to my endometriosis. We have had a hand in raising our eldest niece and nephew who are now old enough to have babies of their own."

Lisa's advice to high school students who are considering studying health or sports degrees is to study remedial massage first. "Once the twelve-month course is completed, they can be earning $60+ an hour to support themselves while they then go to university to complete their preferred degree." She notes that this would ensure that the massage industry has a ready supply of therapists who need to work in the industry for three-five years, the students would be well paid during their years of study, and the work would also help the students be better qualified and knowledgeable when they finish all their studies. 

Lisa has a long list of business and creative ideas. She is creating the space that she needs to tap into her creativity, drive, and focus. "The experiences I have had to date - owning and operating four businesses across four different industries, having a business targeted for crime, going through PTSD, and having a number of personal losses embodies me with insight, wisdom and experience. I know that if I'm willing to do the work, allow myself to be vulnerable and open to learning new skills, and ask for support - then there's very little that I can't achieve."

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