Five quick questions with Karina Judd

17 February 2021

Rae Knopik

Rae is the Events and Marketing Officer at YWCA Canberra

The She Leads College Conference, taking place on Friday 26 March, is a one-day leadership event for young women and non-binary student in years 11 and 12. It is designed to equip participants with the practical skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders in their community.

This year’s theme ‘Wild’, is about how emerging leaders can harness personal adversity and use it to thrive in both their personal and professional capacities. Today we caught up with the She Leads College Conference panel facilitator, Karina Judd, to talk to her about her leadership journey, her leadership challenges, and her stance on gender equality.

Karina’s career has taken several unexpected turns, from tsunami hunter in New Zealand to archaeologist in Bulgaria, to touring science theatre performer with Questacon’s Science Circus. She is currently completing a PhD at ANU which, broadly speaking, aims “to punch the white patriarchy in the face”. With science, of course.

Karina’s one claim to internet fame was a detailed online calculator to help you figure out how many pairs of underwear to take on a holiday that went viral and was published in several national media outlets. Karina is a keen mountaineer, having hiked several beginner-friendly trails around Canberra, as well as a team charity hike for UN Women Australia in the Himalayas that raised over $150k for women’s economic and political empowerment programs. She is an enthusiastic if not skilled dancer, yogi, photographer and baker. Karina wants you to know that this is a highlights reel that ignores the real ups and downs of being a complex human.

Describe yourself in 30 words or less.

Overly optimistic, generally effervescent, occasionally forgetful.

Tell us about a moment in your life that kick-started your leadership journey.

There was never a single moment, it was more like stacking Lego haphazardly, occasionally stepping on some loose bricks. It’s only looking back that I can see the postmodern masterpiece.

What are the questions you’re tired of hearing about gender equality?

Does gender inequality exist? How badly does it impact women? These questions we’ve known the answers to for 40 years or more. The research keeps asking the same things to define the problems. I’m tired of asking what women can do to push themselves forward, instead of asking men to show some basic respect.

What is a personal challenge you have had to overcome for your leadership goals?

I’m a fiercely independent person. I hate being let down. But reacting by never letting anyone in or accepting help is not the way. This was a difficult lesson. One I still manage to teach myself with horrifying frequency.

Imagine yourself in your 40s. What leadership advice would your 40-year-old self give to you right now?

It’s ok to be a slingshot and take a few strategic steps back to shoot forward later.

Watch this space to keep up with Karina’s leadership journey. If you are a young woman or nonbinary person in years 11 or 12, ask your school to register you for the She Leads College Conference on Friday 26 March – visit the event page for more information.

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