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Take a chance or make a chance: Our 2016 Outstanding Alumni Award Winner

Written by GLP alumna, Priscilla Madrid Valero. Priscilla graduated from a Master of Development Studies and Culture Change in 2015 and has been working for over a year with Good Return, a not-for-profit agency committed to eradicating poverty through responsible microfinance and skills development programs.

There are many factors that come into play in order to be called a leader, and even more to be a global leader. I would like to focus on just one of the core factors: initiative.

Just after graduating from my undergraduate degree in journalism back in Mexico I was contacted by a recruiter via LinkedIn and got offered an amazing job opportunity. It paid very well, had great benefits and a lot of responsibilities. A colleague and I were the sole editors for the whole Latin American region for one of the three biggest financial ratings companies in the world. I was getting so comfortable that I nearly forgot why I went into journalism – to make a positive impact on the world. I was volunteering with indigenous women on the weekends, but I probably was not going to change the world in the way I wanted to with my financial editor role. So I decided to quit. Letting go of a job like that was difficult but I knew if I didn’t leave then it would only get harder to leave later.

I started looking for international scholarships and universities and I ended up coming to Australia to study a Master of Development Studies and Culture Change. It was the right choice. As soon as I heard of the Global Leadership Program I knew I had to sign up. Who would ever let an opportunity like this go? It provided access to amazing learning opportunities; people who were leaders in their fields; and it was free! Joining the GLP was the best decision I made while studying at Macquarie.

Firstly, the Program encouraged us to attend events that we might have liked to attend, but with a busy academic schedule, would probably not make the time for otherwise. In one of those events I approached someone from the UN Women Australia Committee, talked to them about how I thought they could promote their campaigns in universities and soon after graduation I started promoting the HeForShe Campaign at Macquarie. I even had the opportunity to speak at a panel during Macquarie’s Sex Week 2016 about gender equality and the HeForShe Campaign.

Secondly, completing the GLP involved participation in 6 Think Tanks—this was my favourite part. Not only do you get to learn things that your degree doesn’t cover, but the Convenors are also leaders in their fields. I am deeply interested in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and I got the opportunity to undertake the Leading Responsible Workplaces Think Tank offered by Dr. Debbie Haski-Leventhal, who initiated and leads the MGSM CSR Partnership Network. As a direct consequence of that Think Tank, I got in touch with someone at a big international corporation and made my case on how much I wanted to learn about CSR and how passionate I am about social issues. As a result of this conversation, the company created an internship position for me. One highlight of my internship was designing and managing the company’s NAIDOC Week Campaign in Sydney.

I also attended the Microfinance as a Development Strategy and Recent Trends in Internet-based Financing Think Tank by Guy Winship, former CEO and founder of the not-for-profit organisation, Good Return. I was impressed by the work they do so I approached Guy at the end of his presentation and, as a result, have been with Good Return for over a year as their Corporate Relations Officer.

In this role I had the great opportunity of working with different corporate partners such as Accenture and Deloitte, and helping to organise and manage different campaigns and events. The latest event I organised was an Anti-poverty Week Breakfast themed ‘Women and Technology’ at Facebook’s offices in Australia.

Showing initiative does not necessarily mean starting a movement or an organisation, sometimes it can be as little as asking for an opportunity—or asking Facebook to host an event.

It doesn’t take much, just a simple question. Initiative is not hard if you consider that you already have the ‘no’, so you might as well try for the ‘yes’.

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