Alumna in Focus: The Hon Gladys Berejiklian, MP

The Hon Gladys Berejiklian

Gladys Berejiklian, MP (BA and Graduate Diploma in International Studies) was appointed NSW Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations following the election of the Baird Government in March 2015. Gladys was born in Sydney and is of Armenian descent. She completed studies in Government and Public Administration at the University of Sydney before completing her Master of Commerce at UNSW. Prior to entering parliament she worked as a General Manager for one of Australia’s largest financial institutions, the Commonwealth Bank.

Her passion for politics was always in her DNA and Gladys was elected Member for Willoughby in 2003. She was appointed Minister for Transport following the election of the O’Farrell Government in March 2011 and has served as Deputy Leader of the NSW Parliamentary Liberal Party since April 2014. She lives in Willoughby and has had a life-long association with the local area. Here she shares the value she placed on her education and how it helped shaped her career path.

1. What are your happiest memories about your time here as a student?
I enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life, and debating and discussing key issues of the day. And there has been no experience like cramming hand-written essays in the upper levels of the old Fisher library!

2. Who was your favourite Professor while you were a student at the University of Sydney and why?
I have too many to list them all, although I do recall attending a lecture on Soviet politics given by Professor Graeme Gill on the day the Soviet Union officially collapsed. As a symbolic gesture, he handed out badges bearing the classic “hammer and sickle”, and told us they would now be collectors’ items.

3. What is your proudest achievement?
Finishing my degree on time!

4. Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who have an amazingly positive attitude to life, no matter what their personal circumstances. This is so important.

5. Tell us about your background and how you entered politics.
As you know, I studied Government and Public Administration at the University of Sydney but I am also a Master of Commerce graduate from UNSW. Immediately before entering politics I worked for the CBA for five years where I learned a lot about customer service – invaluable training for a future politician! I entered politics because I wanted to make a positive difference – that’s what I strived for during my years in the Transport portfolio and it’s what I hope to do as Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations.

6. What is the mantra you live by and what drives you?
Always do your best and work hard.

7. What has been the most memorable success you have had?
In politics: Improving public transport and delivering my first State Budget.

8. What are your plans for the future?
To deliver as many State Budgets as possible that result in better outcomes for NSW and improve the lives of its people.

9. What advice would you give to students graduating from the University of Sydney?
Don’t be timid in striving for what you may think are unattainable goals. Persistence and hard work, combined with a bit of assertiveness, can take you a long way.