Julie McKay, EMBA, ’11

Young Alumni Achievement

Julie McKay

Julie McKay is a joint winner of the Young Alumni Award for Achievement for the outstanding role she has played in Australia’s non-profit sector as an advocate for gender equality, ending violence against women, and social inclusion.

Though she initially embarked on a career in banking, Julie quickly realised her true passion was working for non-profit organisations. She went on to hold management roles at Homelessness Australia and the White Ribbon Campaign before being hired as the executive director of UNIFEM Australia, now known as the Australian National Committee for UN Women. She was appointed at the age of just 23 to steer this organisation – the Australian representative of the United Nations agency for gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Under her leadership over the past six years, UN Women Australia has grown from having a single full-time staff member – Julie herself – to 14 employees and interns. It now commands a leading voice in the development sector and is a respected adviser to business and government on important gender issues.

Julie has engaged hundreds of thousands of Australians in the work of UN Women Australia. She has helped raise over $1 million for projects which are improving the lives of women and girls in the developing world. “In the last six and a half years, we have supported women in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Liberia to access economic security, represent their communities as leaders and change the attitudes which perpetuate violence against women,” says Julie. “I believe achieving gender equality is one of the greatest leadership challenges of my generation.”

She is also a respected public advocate on a wide range of issues that affect women, from pay equity to political participation and gender-based violence. One of her special passions is fostering women’s leadership opportunities and changing entrenched attitudes to women in the business sector. She also finds the time to serve as a mentor to other young women, helping them to realise their full potential.

In 2010, Julie was awarded a Scholarship for Excellence in NGO Leadership to undertake a Global Executive EMBA at the University of Sydney Business School. During the degree, she studied at Stanford, London Business School and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, gaining insights and connections that have further advanced her career. “My cohort and the academics who supported us helped to pull me apart and put me back together, hopefully as a more confident leader who is clearer about the difference she wants to make in the world,” she says.

Julie has received a string of accolades and honours, including the 2011 Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year and the 2013 ACT Young Australian of the Year and was a National Finalist for Young Australian of the Year.