Achieving my future anything through the power of yes.
Eight years ago, I was at crossroads with my life and career. I commenced my career as a secondary English teacher. It was a wonderful vocation that took me to various schools in NSW and across the seas for a London adventure. I loved working with teenagers, and found my job both challenging and rewarding. But there was an itch for something more.
Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by the intersection of politics and policy. I wanted to know how important decisions were made, why they were made, who could make them, how decision makers were empowered, and how I could influence this process.
Growing up in a regional community that was frequently impacted by detached decisions made in offices in Sydney and Canberra, my key interest has always been social policy. I am passionate about equity and believe that education is the greatest driver of our equity. I was inspired yet I wasn’t sure how I could have a broader impact from outside the classroom.
The first step to changing my life and finding my future anything, was a minor attitude adjustment. To embrace change. As cliché as it sounds, in 2011, I made a New Years’ Resolution to seek out new adventures, and to say “yes” to every opportunity presented – no matter how terrifying.
That year, I moved from regional NSW to Sydney to begin working as a research assistant to a Member of Parliament, and even travelled across the country as a volunteer political campaigner – soaking up new experiences wherever possible.
My new career path eventually led to senior advisory roles with the NSW Education Minister, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I will never forget the first meeting I attended with Government Ministers and senior bureaucrats, where they were genuinely interested in my views on a particular Education policy.
For a small-town teacher from the bush, I really felt that I was “faking it until making it” for my first years in Macquarie Street, but I eventually realised that everyone feels this way, and the key to defeating my imposter syndrome was to just keep saying “yes”.
Now, I work in Advocacy and Government Relations for a charity that supports vulnerable children and families from regional Australia. I applied to the MBA program to build the technical skills that I need to be the best advocate for equity that I can be.
Ironically, as I proceed through the MBA I feel that my future anything became blurred. But this is great. Having completed just over half of the MBA program, I am exposed to new ways of thinking. I am currently building a network of colleagues and friends with diverse experiences and perspectives.
I now see my path as leading with purpose and inspiring change. I have accepted that this path is not going to be linear, and may never be clear. As I embark on my journey, the skills I am gaining through the MBA will empower me to take bigger risks - to be a more valuable leader and to embrace the unknown.
I write this piece a few hours before I head to the hospital to have my first child and embark on a new journey that will be, without a doubt, my greatest leap into the unknown in my 35 years on this planet.
If there’s one lesson from my experiences to date that I hope to take with me into parenthood it comes from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. The lesson is not that there is only one valid path to a bright future, but rather that we must embrace our own journey, say yes to every opportunity, and never look back with regret.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.