How do you reach the top in the business world?

Fall in love with cold calling and throw away conventional business models, said Amanda Santos, the keynote speaker at an International Women's Day #PressforProgress lunch.

Thursday marked International Women's Day with women from around Kapiti celebrating it in style with a luncheon at Southward Car Museum hosted by the Kapiti Chamber of Commerce's Women in Business and Kapiti Rotary.

The key theme for 2018 is #PressforProgress.

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Leading on from 2017's theme #BeBoldforChange which encouraged women to take ground-breaking action for change, #PressforProgress is about not being complacent.

An eccentric person with plenty of confidence, Amanda Santos's exuberance caused many laughs around the tables as she shared stories of how she has come to be the CEO of Tekron, an electronics manufacturing company.

The laughs were wrapped up in serious issues and messages as Ms Santos talked about how she achieved the goal she set at the age of 23 to become a CEO by the age of 40.

"I don't have an interesting background I'm sorry to say," Ms Santos began.

"However, I have an amazing sister, mum and gran, and come from a group of loud-mouthed family members.

"I've come from some incredibly strong women and have some amazing roles models in my life."

Being told in her youth that she was not allowed to take the computer class as an A-grade student, Ms Santos was told she was going to marry well, and consequently needed to learn how to cook and sew to look after her husband.

Ms Santos's background may not be of moviemaking material, however her determination not to take no for an answer has led her to become the current CEO of Tekron, the chairwoman of Armstrong Downs Commercial, sales and strategy advisor at Creative HQ, chair and trustee of Summer of Tech (NZ Tech Training Trust) and the CEO of mentoring, sales coaching and strategy Facilitation at StratAspire Ltd to name a few.

"I've learnt to have the confidence and strength to say this ceiling has gotta go," she said to around 200 women.

"I'm gonna take an axe to it every time I hit it and I've hit it a few times now.

"Frustration kept me going — that and a lot of energy."

As Ms Santos's story proves, the best stories are about where you get to, not always about where you've come from.

For example, former Prime Minister Helen Clark grew up on a farm just outside of Hamilton and didn't have a particularly interesting background either.

But both women have been fuelled by a determination to be the best they can be and embrace diversity.