2020 She Leads College Conference – Get to know Gina Zheng

27 February 2020

Phi Phi Nguyen

Phi Phi is the Communications Officer at YWCA Canberra

The She Leads College Conference taking place on Thursday 12 March, is a one-day event aimed at young-woman, non-binary and female students in years 11 and 12. It is designed to equip participants with the practical skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders. Today, we introduce Gina Zheng, one of our ‘moving from dreaming to achieving’ panellists for the upcoming She Leads College Conference.Gina_Zheng

Gina is a freelance writer and consultant passionate about systems change, environmental sustainability and education. She has worked for several socially driven and impact-focused not-for-profits and is currently a YLab Associate with the Foundation for Young Australians. Currently, Gina is developing and managing a mix of renewable energy projects (wind, solar, battery) across Queensland. Her work involves extensive stakeholder engagement, creative problem solving and creating an understanding of environmental planning law and development procedures. Gina is also an avid writer, reader and long-distance trail runner. Today we caught up with Gina to talk about her current projects, her leadership journey and her stance on climate change action. 

You’re currently the Junior Project Manager at Neoen working on developing and managing a mix of renewable energy projects, can you tell us a little bit more about this role?

People-skills and creative problem-solving are two key skills that I use daily in my job to support Australia’s transition to a greener society and economy, and in managing renewable energy projects in Australia. I am very grateful and lucky to be in a job that not only aligns with my passions and values, but also involves responsibilities and tasks that I enjoy carrying out.

How did you become an environmental leader and what did this journey look like?

I asked myself two questions – both involving a lot of introspective reflection – firstly, what was I most passionate about and secondly, what skillsets could I bring to the table and (as equally important) would enjoy bringing to the table. From there, a lot of trial and error across an array of different jobs led me down this undefined pathway!

What have been some of your biggest challenges when embarking on this journey?

The wonderful and challenging thing about working in the environment, sustainability and climate change space is that it is highly multi-disciplinary. This means that there is no one single expert in this arena, and by nature, collaboration and teamwork is crucial to being able to operate and work within this space. It presents unique challenges, like not always having the full disciplinary background to work in this space, but it is also an exciting challenge that can be overcome with collaboration and teamwork.

What is one thing readers can do to tackle the climate emergency?

Be unafraid to challenge the status quo, and how you approach the climate emergency. Do your research, be informed and develop an independent and self-specific approach to the climate emergency. There is a lot of noise and conflicting news and information around climate change, and it’s also very easy to get lost in our echo-chambers of thoughts. When seeking to act on the climate emergency, challenge yourself and think critically about where you can make the most impact.

What advice would you give to yourself when you were in College (years 11 and 12)?

The best way to know what you want to do with your life, and answer that god-awful existential crisis, is just to jump-in and get experience and exposure to a range of opportunities! The only way you will know if the shoe fits, if it you try it on yourself – there’s no other way of truly being able to know!

The more involvement and opportunities you give yourself, the more quickly you will understand what your career are ‘non-negotiables’. For me, understanding this is incredibly powerful and important to ensuring happiness and success in your job.

Are you a young woman, female-identifying or non-binary person in years 11 or 12 and would like to hear more from Gina? Register to attend the She Leads College Conference on Thursday 12 March – Visit the event page for more information.

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