9 October 2017
The inaugural She Leads High Conference is a one-day leadership event for young women, including female identifying and non-binary people, in years 9 and 10. The event will take place at the University of Canberra’s Ann Harding Conference Centre on 28 November 2017.
In this interview, we talk to Laura Campbell, the MC at the upcoming Conference. Laura is a local disability activist, feminist and comedian. During her time as an ANU Psychology/Law student, Laura was involved in a range of programs and associations working to advocate for people with disabilities. During her ANU years, she had been heavily involved in leadership and advocacy work having been the ANUSA Disabilities Officer and later the Executive ANUSA Education Officer and a member of the Global Undergraduate Leadership Program. Through these roles, Laura worked toward creating a strong community focus in diversity of experience with self advocacy and love, creating such initiatives as ANU’s Spoon Week and Self Love Week.
In 2016, Laura took the large leap into the world of stand-up comedy. From coming runner-up in 2017’s Triple J’s RAW state finals to having sold out runs in the Canberra and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Laura has been sharing her experience as a women with a disability. Performing with the like of Matt Okine, David Hughes, Josh Earl, Nazeem Hussain, Akmal and Kirsty Webeck, Laura is an arising star within the Australian comedy scene.
Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.
I was actually a leadership late-bloomer! I didn’t begin my leadership journey until AFTER high school (*audience gasp*). Through my disability journey, I learnt the value of having pride within myself and my community. I also learned how to ask tough questions of myself and my community in deciding where change could begin to make a more inclusive and better serving world.
What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?
Learning the value of quality over quantity. The world is regularly selling/telling us that we need to be constantly moving and doing things until we reach exhaustion. Learning to pace myself and to give time and genuine energy towards just one or two things has been my largest and most rewarding challenge.
Why do we need more women leaders, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?
I think that as a society, we have been taught there is only one type of leader/leadership style. These qualities are often associated with stereotypically masculine qualities. However, there are so many different types of leaders and ways to lead. As our world grows and creates, we need to value diversity in our leaders and explore different styles of leadership to best fit our ever expanding community. Having women in leadership helps redefine what we see as a “leader” and the qualities or stereotypes we have around “what makes a leader”. Also, representation matters! Having a diverse range of women in leadership, in all areas, not only shows current society the value of gender equality, but also reiterates to the next generation that gender equality should be an expectation that each society adheres to from the very beginning.
What book should every aspiring woman leader read?
This book, as well as being absolutely hilarious is an incredible insight into being a woman in a male dominated creative space. Fey explores her entire career and the inspiring female partnerships she developed with amazing comedians such as Amy Poehler. She also touches upon the struggles of being a female boss and leading a male heavy team in creating the hit TV Show 30 Rock.
Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given.
The best piece of advice I ever received was from my father. He once told me that intelligence would be my greatest weapon, and thus, I must nourish it. He explained that no matter how stuck or helpless I may feel in life, my intelligence could give me the ability to examine and change myself and how I interacted with the life around me. He said “your ability to look inside, to reflect and to change, this will be your greatest gift”.