5 quick questions with Sarah Burr

18 July 2017

Jessica Abramovic

Jessica is the Communications and Events Coordinator at YWCA Canberra.

The She Leads In-Conversation Series provides Canberrans with the opportunity to hear from women leaders from different backgrounds and industries in a conversational format, followed by a live Q&A session, and networking. Our August In-Conversation event will be with Celeste Liddle and Sarah Burr, centering around the challenges faced by women and Aboriginal women alike, in our communities, society, and workplaces.

Sarah is a Wiradjuri woman living in Canberra. She is an Executive Level Adviser at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet working in Indigenous Affairs, and a committed Board Director and Vice President at YWCA Canberra, member of the ABC Advisory Council, and member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Canberra Hub.

Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.

My leadership journey is only just beginning. I am learning so much and hope to continue to be empowered by, and empower, the many wonderful women I surround myself with.

What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?

My biggest leadership challenge is finding ways to include elements of First Nations feminism in mainstream gender equality discussions. Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives into Australian feminism shouldn’t be an after-thought or a token gesture, it should be core to progressing towards a stronger, smarter, and more inclusive model of women’s empowerment.

Why do we need more women leaders, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?

We need more women leaders because women change the world for the better. Women in leadership bring different perspectives and strengths to existing corporate/political/community structures, offer a hand up to young women and girls following in their path, and pursue practical actions to make equality the minimum standard.

What book should every aspiring woman leader read?

Read everything you can get your hands on that was written by a woman! Women who’ve written about feminism, women who’ve written fiction, women who’ve written non-fiction, women who’ve written poetry, women who’ve written true crime, women who’ve written academic papers, women who write about the economy, Aboriginal women writers, Anglo and European women writers, African American women writers, Indian women writers, queer women writers… the more perspectives you get, the more you understand, and the more inclusive you can be of the women and girls around you.

Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given

Personally, I’ve really embraced the advice that you’ve got to be in it to win it. I find this idea really motivating and positive, and it makes me very hopeful for the future because it can be applied to anything you define for yourself as “winning”: personal dreams, educational goals, career progression, volunteer experience, or national and international opportunities you didn’t even know existed. Most of the time that I put my hand up for things I don’t get picked, but I do get to meet others or learn something new in the process, and that is valuable to me. Just by being there I’m part of something bigger, and I can use that experience to listen and learn and contribute. More broadly, my favourite piece of advice is to support each other. True leadership starts this way.

You can hear more from Celeste Liddle and Sarah Burr at the She Leads In-Conversation on Wednesday 16 August – book your ticket online today!

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