She Leads College – 5 quick questions with Hannah Wandel

21 July 2016

Zoya Patel

Zoya is the Senior Manager of Corporate Relations and Communication at YWCA Canberra.

Hannah Wandel - BlogThe She Leads College Conference, taking place on Tuesday 26 July, is a one-day event for girls in Years 11 and 12, equipping participants with the practical skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders. This year, we have an amazing line-up of inspiring young women who will share their leadership journeys with participants. We’ll be featuring 5 quick questions with each speaker in the lead up to the Conference. Today, we chat to Hannah Wandel.

Describe yourself in 30 words or less.

I love big ideas, community and laughing so hard I cry. I’m an equality advocate and social entrepreneur, who wants to use everyday to help create a fairer world.

What’s one thing about your life now that you never would have predicted when you were at school? 

That I’m the Founder and CEO of a national not-for-profit! I always imagined myself as a lawyer or journalist (which I actually was for a while). Now, I run Country to Canberra (C2C): an organisation that empowers young rural and remote women to reach their leadership potential. As a teen, I don’t think I ever could have imagined myself taking so many risks in the public eye, and I’d be astounded by the number of meaningful opportunities, people and fulfilment C2C has brought into my life. Also, I’d be surprised that I’m still terrible at cooking! 16-year-old Hannah would definitely give me some serious sass about that.

What is a book that has influenced your leadership journey? 

Lean In by Facebook COO, mother and all-round inspiration, Sheryl Sandberg. I’m well-aware that this choice might be cliché, but this book gave me multiple ‘ah ha’ moments and perfectly articulates the systemic discrimination that scores of women face in the workplace. I read it just before founding Country to Canberra, and many of the principles in it, such as empowering women to speak up, confidently negotiate and call out unconscious bias, inspired me to take action. In fact, if ever I need motivation, I’ll switch on my Kindle, read a chapter and immediately feel ready to take on the world.

Why are you excited to be part of the She Leads College Conference? 

I can’t wait to connect with a bunch of energetic, ambitious young women, and importantly, learn how I can help them achieve their goals. As a gender equality advocate, I love hearing teens tell me about their aspirations, but also, about what support they need. That way, I can use my position as a CEO and Board Director to deliver the programs and initiatives they truly require.

What piece of advice would you most like to give to young women just starting their leadership journeys?

Speak your ideas out loud! If you have bold plans and big ambitions, tell people. Write down your goals and share them with your friends, family and networks, as you never know when this could lead you to amazing new career, education or mentorship opportunities. Often, people keep their ideas close to their chest, so that no-one can poke holes in them; however, you should never let a fear of failure or embarrassment hold you back. If Instagram memes have taught me anything, it’s that you only live once – so go for it!

Find out more about our exciting program and register to attend the She Leads College Conference here!

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