14 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 Sophie Hope, one of our speed networkers at the upcoming High Conference. Sophie was the 2015 ACT Volunteer of the Year and a 2016 Finalist for the ACT Young Australian of the Year. She has a Bachelor of Science Psychology from ANU, and is currently studying post-graduate courses. Sophie also volunteers on the National Headspace Youth Reference Group, the ACT Youth Advisory Council, and for ACACIA, The Way Back Service, and The Youth Coalition. Sophie also created a social initiative in 2015 called Mind the Gap; an annual youth performing arts showcase, providing opportunities for young artists while raising money for and awareness of youth mental health issues. Sophie is passionate about mental health, suicide prevention, human rights and the casual destruction of misogyny.
Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.
I certainly have more to say on my leadership journey than can be encapsulated in 30 words, but to summarise it, in my mind, good leadership = passion + life experience + innovation + empathy.
I became aware of the inadequacies within the mental health system at a young age. From this my passion for change and improvement in the health system grew. While I studied, I looked for ways I could help create change, advocate, and make an impact ‘now’ rather than waiting until I had graduated. Most of these opportunities were volunteer positions. So, I threw myself into volunteering and said ‘yes’ to as many opportunities as possible, while always standing by my values and morals.
What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?
For me, my biggest leadership challenge is maintaining self-care. I’m not great at making sure I look after myself. We are all told it is important to look after ourselves, so that we can be around for others, though I have always found this naturally challenging. To help maintain self care, I remind myself that it is not selfish to look after myself, and I try to schedule ‘rest time’ into my calendar to make sure I give myself a break regularly. My friends are beautiful as well, and we check in with each other to make sure we remember our self-care and rest!
Why do we need more women leaders, and what difference can women in leadership make in terms of gender equality?
This is tricky to answer in such a short space – there is so much people who identify as women can do in leadership! We need more women-identifying leaders, because as we know there are less females than males in leadership positions. This inequality needs to change, as it is one step in the process of lessening misogyny and sexism, within our world. The way society is currently, women are fighting for their rights and to be treated equally from childhood, and this is not okay. More women in leadership, can help shape our world for the better for sure.
What book should every aspiring woman leader read?
Share with us the best piece of advice you’ve been given.
Something I’ve been told which I think has been useful is: “Some people truly listen, while others listen to speak. Be the one who truly listens.”