My time as a YWCA Canberra Board Trainee – Sophie Fisher

22 June 2017

Jessica Abramovic

Jessica is the Communications and Events Coordinator at YWCA Canberra.

YWCA Canberra is committed to fostering the growth and development of young women leaders. Each year, our Board of Directors conducts the Board Traineeship Program, which provides women with the opportunity to gain experience in governance, finance and strategic management without the legal and financial responsibilities of being a Board Director. 

We caught up with Sophie Fisher, who is about to complete her Board Traineeship for the 2016-2017 period, to discuss her experience on the YWCA Canberra board.

Sophie is a Trainee on the Board of YWCA Canberra and is also a member of the Y’s Finance, HR and Membership sub-committees. She holds a Bachelor of International Relations from the Australian National University and a Diploma of Government from the Australian Institute of Management. Sophie volunteers her time as a tutor for young migrant and refugee women in the community and has recently used a Great Ydeas grant to establish a learn-to-ride program, Girls on Bikes. As a young woman with lived experience of mental illness, she is also a Youth Ambassador at Reach Out. Sophie loves the community of incredible women that the YWCA Canberra offers in its membership.

What attracted you to apply for a Traineeship on the Board of YWCA Canberra?

One of my favourite parts about YWCA Canberra is the incredible network of women it offers within its membership. What initially spurred me to apply for a Board Traineeship was the opportunity to learn from and work alongside a number of these women.

What exactly does a Board Trainee of YWCA Canberra do?

As a Board Trainee, I have had full YWCA Canberra immersion! I have had the opportunity to sit in on Board meetings to see how the YWCA Canberra Board operates, I have been encouraged to ask questions and to seek mentorship from Board Directors. I have also joined a number of the YWCA Canberra sub-committees and attended many of the awesome events held by the Y across the year.

How would you describe the Board’s contribution to the on-the-ground activities of The Y’s staff, members and community?

Being a Board Trainee has given me an understanding of the extent of the Y’s reach in the Canberra community. The Board is accountable for ensuring good decision-making and strong governance on behalf of all members of this community to enable on-the-ground activities to carry on successfully. The Board has an objective overview of YWCA Canberra functions and Board directors bring a myriad of skills and experience to support the strategic direction of the Y going forward.

What is the personal and career significance of having the opportunity to be a Board Trainee? Being a Board

Trainee of YWCA Canberra has been a great introduction to a board environment and will be invaluable for any board opportunities I have into the future.

On a personal note, my time as a Board Trainee also led me to apply for a Great Ydeas grant to establish a learn-to-ride program for young migrant and refugee women in our community. To have the support of the Y was a real impetus for me in working towards making this idea happen.

In your opinion, why is it important for young women to be represented on The Y’s board?

It’s important to have a range of individuals with different backgrounds and experience on a board in order to be reflective of the demographic being represented. Young women are navigating an interesting future with both residual and emerging challenges, it is as important as ever that they are empowered in decision-making processes. Providing young women with the opportunities to develop skills and experience in a board environment is just another way that the Y is supporting today’s (and tomorrow’s) young women leaders.

What kind of women do you think should apply to be a Board Trainee in the future?

Any woman who is passionate about the Y, and keen to learn and gain exposure to board processes is the kind of woman who should apply to be a Board Trainee!

When you’re not at Board meetings, what do you do professionally?

I work in International Fisheries Compliance Policy, with a focus on the Western and Central Pacific region. This is a good mix of my two key pillars of interest – social and environmental sustainability.

How do you see your leadership journey evolving in the next five years?

I have recently spent some time in East Africa visiting incredible community projects and meeting young women with big dreams to lead their community to a better quality of life. This has inspired me to look more closely at my own community – local, national and regional – and what positive action I can effect. Over the next five years, as I continue to grow in my work, academic and personal life, I hope I can continue to develop and consolidate what I have to offer as a leader. And of course – continued involvement in a thriving YWCA movement!

Applications for the 2017-2018 Board Traineeship will open in September 2017. Join our Newsletter to stay up-to-date with all future YWCA Canberra opportunities.

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