7 November 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 Sam Launt, one of our speed networkers at the upcoming High Conference. Sam is an engineer, educator, and a social entrepreneur. She runs Engage, a social enterprise giving students in regional schools the chance to participate in the university outreach programs that schools in Canberra already get. Sam is also currently completing her PhD, which explores diversity in STEM outreach programs, and attempted to understand what these programs must do to ensure diverse young people can take part.
Sam has also been involved as a part of the Robogals Global Leadership Team, which ensures girls have the chance to play with engineering and robotics before they choose their final year school subjects. Sam has also been awarded the 2015 Tillyard Prize.
Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.
Accidental. I’ve always wanted to make practical positive change in my community. And as I learned more, my community just got bigger.
What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?
Learning to holding vision through discouragement, not despite it. I’ve learned that being vulnerable enough to hope and be discouraged, to empathise with others who are hurting because of failure, and taking the time to reflect builds far more resilience and understanding than bulldozing through discouragement by trying to move on quickly or simply think positively. That said, keep temporary set backs temporary – don’t lose sight of what you are trying to achieve and why.
Why do we need more women leaders, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?
Innovation and decision making is better when those making big decisions include the diversity of those affected by those decisions. And leaders create tomorrow for everyone – it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. Leadership that includes women is leadership that better serves the community, business, or organisation.
What book should every aspiring woman leader read?
Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows.
Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given.
Be home by 5.
My parents understood that I wanted to be involved in extra-curricular activities after school, but also decided that it was important for me to see my family, eat a healthy dinner, and have a regular bedtime. Of course, I did sometimes stay out later, but learning to keep my life balanced while I was at school set me up really well for uni when I started making these decisions for myself.