She Leads – what will it mean to you?

29 March 2016

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The 2016 She Leads Conference will be held on Tuesday 17 May at QT Canberra, with She Leads masterclasses to be held on Monday 16 May. Tickets and program details are now available at 2016.sheleads.org.au.

Open to all,the She Leads Conference brings women from a range of sectors, at all stages of their leadership journeys, together with Australia’s most inspiring women leaders. This year, we have crafted our program to explore the theme ‘Transform’ – focusing on stories of personal transformation and experiences from women leaders who are transforming their workplaces, industries and communities. To give you an idea of what to expect, we contacted attendees from years past to find out how attending the Conference has impacted their leadership journeys to date. Here we interview Cassandra Deans, a 2015 She Leads attendee, YWCA Canberra member and Senior Analyst in the Department of Defence.

Tell us about yourself. Why did you attend the 2015 She Leads Conference?

I am committed to advancing women’s rights and improving the state of women’s leadership. I am a member of the Y and Co-Chair of UN Women’s International Women’s Day Canberra Committee and I take action locally to inspire more conversations about gender equality. I had heard fantastic feedback from the 2014 program and signed up to complete the She Leads Diploma.

What was the highlight of the day?

Clare Bowditch! So amazing. I was incredibly ill on the day and had to leave during Gillian Triggs’s address. I adore her and have seen her speak and have met her a few times. I was pretty disappointed to not see her address in full.

Has anything changed in your personal or professional life or conduct as a result of what you saw, heard or learnt at the She Leads Conference?

Last year was my year of professional development. I attended the She Leads Conference, completed the She Leads Diploma, completed a Centre for Public Management course and attended Liquid Learning Women in Defence and Security workshops, along with attending Women in Security Networking events. Because I made such a concerted effort, I think I cemented many things from the Conference into my professional life and conduct. I really enjoyed the access to distinguished leaders that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to pose questions to or network with during the breaks. Tracey Spicer’s approach to gender barriers was insightful about identifying systemic issues facing women in the workforce, and she was insightful without casting herself as a minority or being critical of other people. I have supported Steph Lorenzo’s endeavours, which I never would have known about otherwise. Knowing that I can make a difference, and that it doesn’t have to be only in my small circle of influence, and that other women’s lives must change immediately, have been good touch stones for when I have had some really bad days in the office.

What would you say to a colleague or friend who is considering attending the 2016 She Leads Conference?

I really enjoyed the identification of different leadership styles, and it’s a good starting point, or refresher, on shaping a leadership and management toolbox. The day offers a safe learning space and the presentations were incredible, something everyone can learn from regardless of gender. I knew I needed a lot of professional development to help set my career goals. Taking the day to listen to stories, meet new people and become something larger than myself has really set me on a path I expect will make me happier in the workplace.

Early bird tickets to the 2016 She Leads Conference and Masterclasses are available until Tuesday 26 April. Visit 2016.sheleads.org.au to find out more or purchase your ticket.

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