2017 She Leads High – 5 Quick Questions with Tomasina Purcell

24 November 2017

Jessica Abramovic

Jessica is the Communications and Events Coordinator at YWCA Canberra.

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 Tomasina Purcell, one of our speed networkers at the upcoming High Conference. Tomasina, who also goes by the moniker ‘Tom’, is a local Canberran and mental health nurse. She studied Nursing at the University of Canberra, and received a scholarship in 2016 to complete my Postgraduate Diploma in Mental Health Nursing. Currently, Tomasina works full-time, splitting herself between Paediatrics within the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children and the Adult Mental Health Day Service. She is also an advocate for people living with a mental illness, having a lived experience of mental illness herself, including depression, anxiety and a long-term eating disorder. In her spare time, Tomasina volunteers through MIEACT as a volunteer educator, and is working towards completing a Masters in Nursing.

Describe your leadership journey in 30 words or less.

Exciting, challenging, never-ending. I have learnt to accept the moments where I feel I’m taking a ‘backwards step’ and that acknowledging that my leadership journey doesn’t have to be a linear process.

What was (or is) your biggest leadership challenge?

Given my personal investment into the career path I have chosen, managing my emotions and personal thoughts can be challenging at times. My strengths include my raised empathy for others and determination to go that extra mile for people who come into my care. I am also enthusiastic about impressing these traits onto fellow colleagues.

Although, I also recognise that these strengths can increase my vulnerability to workplace burnout, including feeling frustrated with a lack of resources. Having strategies such as participating in clinical supervision fortnightly, keeping a journal and seeking support from loved ones (including my dog!) are ways I manage this ongoing challenge.

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

I am very fortunate to work in an industry that is female dominant; therefore there are many women in leadership roles. However I would really like to see more women in leadership roles within broader society (such as politics, science, information technology, etc.). This would strengthen diverse perspectives and also inspire others to pursue leadership goals.

What book should every aspiring woman leader read?

The series Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden was a set of books that I read repeatedly when growing up and thoroughly enjoyed. The dialogue of ‘Ellie’, the main character in the book, demonstrates a courageous, intelligent, and often fearless leader.

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

A message we have at MIEACT is: If you were to get a bad haircut, you would go and find another hairdresser.

Mental health services are the same, whether it’s a psychologist, social worker, youth worker, etc. If you don’t click with the person, that’s okay, it isn’t a reason to give up on seeking help. Take the time to find someone you do feel comfortable with, the service is for you; you deserve it.

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