My experience as a YWCA Canberra Board Trainee

2 December 2014

Diana Tjoeng - Board TraineeAt our Annual General Meeting in October, our outgoing Board Trainees spoke about their experiences of the program, and what they have learned. We are sharing their insights here, for you to get a firsthand account of how our Board Traineeships work, and what you can get out of them. First, we hear from Diana Tjoeng.


Good evening everyone.

I’m Diana Tjoeng and I’m really glad to be here with Nikki to share with you a little bit about the experience of being a Y Board Trainee.

Actually, it was this time last year that I attended my first Y AGM, sitting in the audience not knowing anyone. So if there are people out there in the same boat, I know exactly how you feel and it’s just great that you’re here meeting new people and finding out more about what the Y is doing in our community.

For me, I first got interested in the Y last year after returning from annual leave where I volunteered at a women’s crisis centre in Cambodia. I decided to attend the Y’s screening of the documentary I am a girl that explored and compared the lives of girls in developing and developed countries, and it was the kind of event that made me go, “Yes, this is an organisation that not only looks at gender issues affecting our community and our world, this is an organisation that involves girls, women and men in the conversation, and in the action.”

The Y Board traineeship is one of the only programs of its kind that is specifically designed to give women, and especially young women like myself, the opportunity to experience what it means to a be a leader: to participate in board meetings and be in the discussions that decide the direction and investments of an organisation; to see the emails that go around between board members where there is both healthy debate and celebration of the organisation’s achievements.

This year with the re-branding it was particularly an exciting time to be involved, and the traineeship gave me the opportunity to truly understand the amount of work that goes into a rebranding and what the differences are between operational decisions and governance decisions, which has been invaluable.

Being part of the Finance Committee has also been a highlight. Under Betty’s   excellent tutelage, I now know how to interpret a balance sheet and consider investment decisions – so thank you Betty for your kindness, friendliness and wisdom.

Lastly, it was wonderful getting to know the other trainees and board directors, as everyone had such great experiences and expertise to share. As part of the traineeship we were also paired up with an experienced director and I was really encouraged and supported by my board mentor, Kate Chipperfield, who chatted to me about a career in the public service, the work of the Y and life in general.

I would really like to thank Kate, Jane, Fran, all the board directors and my fellow trainees for a memorable experience that has contributed to my professional confidence and given me such an insight into the great work of the Y. I look forward to meeting the new trainees and I would recommend the traineeship to anyone who has ever asked themselves, ‘What exactly does a board do?’ I think the best way to find out, is to get involved. Thank you.

About Diana

Passionate about gender equity, Diana Tjoeng is a founder and current Co-Chair of the federal Department of Communications Women’s Network and was selected as a YWCA Canberra Board Trainee for 2014. Diana is also a Policy Officer at the Department of Communications and is experienced in the analysis of digital technologies, change management, communications, and digital delivery of education and health services.


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