Speaking at a Master of Laws graduation ceremony in 2017, prominent businessman David Gonski advised his young audience to "avoid narrowness". Two years on and Philippa Macaskill is still guided by that simple piece of advice.
Today, Philippa is a Senior Associate with top-tier law firm King & Wood Mallesons and much more. While practicing commercially, she is also heavily involved in pro bono matters across the child rights, human rights, refugee and asylum seeker, and international criminal law areas.
Continuing to "avoid narrowness" Philippa is about to join Australia's top-ranking MBA program at the University of Sydney Business School with the aid of a scholarship awarded by UN Women Australia.
Describing the scholarship as an "honour", Philippa says she believes the part-time MBA will equip her with the skills to effect real social change.
“Throughout my career, I have sought to have an impact through my involvement in legal pro bono and community work,” Philippa said. “I would now like to expand my skill set to enable me to better contribute to, and take on further leadership roles within, community and business organisations.”
In recent years, Philippa has worked with the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre (now Youth Law Australia), represented asylum seekers and refugees before the Australian Human Rights Commission and the High Court, and worked on war crimes investigations flowing from the Sri Lankan civil war.
“In these roles I have used my legal skills to assist some of the most vulnerable people in our community, but I would like to be able to contribute to causes that I am passionate about in a broader way. The skills I will learn through the MBA will enable me to do this,” she said.
“It is an honour to have been awarded the UN Women Australia MBA scholarship,” Philippa continued. “The work that UN Women Australia does in terms of empowering women and promoting gender equality is inspiring.”
“Women remain under-represented in senior leadership positions in our society, and in my view, there is considerable value in seeking to address this both in terms of promoting diversity and providing role models for other women and girls.”
Commenting on her decision to pursue an MBA at the University of Sydney Business School, Philippa said the Sydney program “has an excellent reputation as one of the leading MBA programs in the country. The program structure, with its emphasis on building leadership skills and practical learning, strongly appeals to me as does the diversity of the student cohort.”
UN Women Australia has been in partnership with the University of Sydney Business School since 2014 in a shared effort to promote gender equality at the most senior levels of the nation's public, corporate and not-for-profit sectors, and in a united goal to further women's education.
The Sydney program is regarded as closely aligned with UN Women Australia’s focus on women in leadership and their economic empowerment. Both organisations have a strong commitment to “unlocking opportunities for women to propel their career opportunities forward.”