21 March 2018
The She Leads College Conference, taking place on Thursday 22 March, is a one-day event for girls in years 11 and 12, equipping participants with the practical skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders. This year, we have an amazing line-up of inspiring young women who will discuss their pathways as trailblazers. Today, we chat to Lavanya Kala, one of our incredible speed-networkers.
Lavanya is an experienced policy and communications professional, with a background working for Government and the not-for-profit sectors. She has a strong background in social policy, especially in the areas of migration, multiculturalism and gender equity. Lavanya joined Volunteering Australia as the Policy Manager in April 2017, and is responsible for the development and coordination of all policy, advocacy, strategy, campaign development, and government and stakeholder relations. She has volunteered for a number of not-for-profits aimed at supporting women and girls, and is currently a Board Director at Beryl Women Inc in Canberra.
Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.
I surrounded myself with interesting people who challenged and inspired me. Holding steadfast to my career goals, through work or volunteering, has also helped get me where I am today.
What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?
I think that my youth has been the biggest challenge to pursuing my leadership goals. Even to this day, I find that people don’t always take me as seriously as they would if I were older (or if I looked older). I think it was definitely more challenging as I was building my experience, but as time has passed, it’s definitely improved. You will always come across people that don’t take young people seriously, but I sincerely believe our generation is going to make the greatest impact, by challenging the norms, breaking stereotypes, generating social change, and creating a sustainable future.
Why do we need more women in leadership, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?
Representation is vital to having an equitable and inclusive working environment, as well as policies and programs that are reflective of the diverse Australian workforce. By having more women in leadership positions, it can make a remarkable difference for gender equality. In fact, studies have shown that organisations with women in leadership positions are more likely to attract more women to their ranks, with women drawn to opportunities for advancement and mentorship. Having women in leadership also encourages a positive cultural change within organisations.
What book should every aspiring woman leader read?
Every aspiring female leader should read Thrive by Arianna Huffington. The book is fantastic as it doesn’t focus on titles, power, or money as the pathway to success. Instead, it repositions what success means for every individual, and asks the reader to focus on leading a successful, purposeful, and meaningful life.
Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is, as women, we need to ask for what we feel we deserve. This may be a promotion, a pay rise, or even what our salary expectation is. It’s certainly the approach I’ve been taking professionally, and whilst I don’t always succeed, there is no harm in making your ask.