Australian High Commission
Singapore
Singapore

International Women's Day 2020

Celebrating amazing Singaporean and Australian women


To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, the Australian High Commission in Singapore is highlighting the achievements of some amazing Singaporean and Australian women. 

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We thank these women for sharing their inspiring stories and experiences with us.  

 

Sharifah Khairunnisa

Sharifah Khairunnisa is the Business Development Manager at the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade). Sharifah Khariunnisa is responsible for identifying and facilitating trade and investment activities between Singapore and Australia, with a specific focus on the Australian education industry. One of the core segments she supports actively is education technology. She works with Australian edtech start-ups to connect them with schools, universities, government agencies and edtech accelerator programs in Singapore. On the R&D front, she works with Singapore-based multinational corporates that are keen to invest in Australian technologies and start-ups that have spun out of Australian universities or to undertake research projects/clinical trials in Australia. The export of Australian education into Singapore remain strong, such as the delivery of courses in-market as well as the steady flow of Australian edutech startups and SMEs keen to expand into Singapore. Sharifah’s role is to support these activities through identifying key partners for them, providing insights on new opportunities in Singapore and connecting them with stakeholders that can accelerate their expansion in Singapore. Enhancing skills development and graduate outcomes in Singapore is a core focus for Austrade. Sharifah also works alongside key government agencies, tertiary institutions and companies to facilitate engagements in internships in Australia, immersion programs and industry visits for students.

Pledge:

I’ll support initiatives that promotes STEM education for young girls #EachforEqual

What motivates you and what do you love most about living in “land of opportunity” Singapore?

Many times, we take for granted the consistency, stability and safety of Singapore; and only when I start to travel overseas more often that I begin to value how incredibly lucky I am to be calling Singapore home. As a young girl, growing up in Singapore meant having equal opportunities and access to education and that have led me to now having a career where I can contribute back to society through promoting education to young students.

This year the Australian High Commission Singapore is focusing on our campaign: Sustainability: We Mean Business. What does Sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability to me means working collectively and putting aside our differences to secure a better future for the next generations. It is also about recognising that everything we do have an impact (whether direct or indirect) to someone else or the environment and we need to take ownership of our actions.

What collective action and shared responsibilities do you action to drive a gender equal world?

My role involves interacting with students at polytechnics and junior colleges in Singapore to promote higher education opportunities. Wherever possible, I try my best to share as much knowledge about programs in sciences, technology and engineering to raise greater awareness towards STEM careers with a message that such career pathways are ‘genderless’. 

What advice can you give to women interested in a career within your industry?

Be confident of our ability to contribute equally to the organisation and industry; and to always be connected and well-tuned to industry developments.

 

Liza Noonan

Liza Noonan is the ASEAN Director of CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. In this role Liza is responsible for supporting a growing portfolio of science and innovation programs spanning food security, sustainable energy, environment management and data science. Prior to this role Liza was the Executive Manager of Innovation at the CSIRO and founder of the ON Accelerator- Australia’s first national science & technology accelerator supporting publicly funded research achieve real world impact faster. Liza has extensive experience in innovation and technology as the first employee and CEO OF Springboard Enterprises Australia - a venture catalyst for female founded businesses in technology and life sciences and in a number of senior strategy and marketing roles across the ICT sector in Australia, UK and Europe. Liza is currently the non-executive Vice-President of the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. She has previously sat on the Executive Council for the IoT Alliance Australia and has served as a Non-Executive Director for the Canberra Innovation Network. Liza holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of New South Wales and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Liza resides in Singapore with her husband and three children.​

What motivates you and what do you love most about living in “land of opportunity” Singapore?

I frequently point out to my three children that being born in Australia at the time they have and experiencing life in a country like Singapore is like winning the “lottery of life”. I think we need to recognise how fortunate we are and try wherever possible to live lives filled with purpose. Demonstrating to my children how to live a life with purpose is what motivates me. I’m incredibly fortunate that my role at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is all about purpose in its commitment to positive economic, environmental and social impact. It’s also a work environment that “walks the talk” in diversity and inclusion. My other big motivation is to raise children who are generous and kind to those who have not been afforded the same opportunities in life.

This year the Australian High Commission Singapore is focusing on our campaign: Sustainability: We Mean Business. What does Sustainability mean to you?
We are living in a time of big global challenges. Loss of biodiversity; irresponsible food waste; oceans drowning in plastics; people fearful of the impact technology will have on their jobs; the urgent need to transition from carbon intensive industries; supporting those most vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change.  At times it can seem overwhelming. 

However, in the words of Sir David Attenborough; “There has never been a better time to take control…the solutions exist and over time will generate enormous economic benefit”.

I see Sustainability as a rebalancing between economic, environmental and social agendas. Positive outcomes that can be shared among everyone living today and future generations. 

What collective action and shared responsibilities do you action to drive a gender equal world?

After having my third child I decided to take an absolute risk, leave a senior role in a very large multinational to join Springboard Enterprises Australia as their first employee and CEO.  Springboard is a Not for Profit that exists to support female founders raise a Series A investment and expand their business internationally. This role introduced me to so many courageous, strong and bold women who were building big and important Australian businesses. It also connected me to a network of supporters – men and women – who were wonderfully enlightened about the benefits of women led businesses.

I am forever grateful for the wisdom and passion of people I met at Springboard Enterprises. With this experience I have always pledged to strive for gender balance in the teams I lead. I reach out to younger female colleagues or contacts to share my experiences and know I’m available for a chat if needed. I say yes to speaking opportunities where I’m qualified to speak and if I don’t believe I’m qualified I recommend a woman in my network.  I am proud to be part of facilitating a network of professional women in Singapore with connections to Australia.

In 2020 I will be working with fellow AustCham Singapore Board Members develop its Diversity and Inclusion Program.  And finally, I’m looking forward to reigniting my experiences in Springboard Enterprises as a mentor for female entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia – but more about that later.
 
What advice can you give to women interested in a career within your industry?

Find your tribe and back each other. Know what your purpose is and what ultimately drives you to get up in the morning and be fulfilled at the end of the day. Reach out beyond industry confines to develop networks and discover how your experience and skills apply in different contexts. Invest in learning and keep your knowledge base up to date– there are so many available options. Be passionately curious and open to new opportunities when they present themselves – even if it might feel uncomfortable.... "The only things to regret are the things you didn't do."

 

Nedra Kelaart

Nedra is the Global Talent Officer at Australian Department of Home Affairs. As a Global Talent Officer for the Department of Home Affairs in Australia, Nedra identifies highly talented individuals, entrepreneurs, scientists, academics and inventors working at the top of future-focused fields who are looking for the opportunity to live and work in Australia. Based in Singapore, Nedra has oversight of the South East Asia, Mekong and Pacific regions.

Pledge:

I'll call it out when I see women disadvantaged in any situation - #EachforEqual

What motivates you and what do you love most about living in “land of opportunity” Singapore?

The work I do and have done in the past has given me the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives. This totally motivates me.

I love living and working in an incredibly progressive and inclusive country. Having grown up in the tropics I also enjoy the warm weather and the benefits a tropical country has to offer.

This year the Australian High Commission Singapore is focusing on our campaign: Sustainability: We Mean Business. What does Sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability to me is all about the future of our society – meeting our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. As a mother, I am constantly challenging my children to think about our consumption patterns and how we consciously reduce our consumption to give our planet a chance to survive.

What collective action and shared responsibilities do you action to drive a gender equal world?

I want to collectively drive a gender equal workplace where pay and occupation disparities are non-existent and a woman’s skill and talent is equally recognised and valued and her contribution celebrated.  

What advice can you give to women interested in a career within your industry?

Be passionate about what you do and build your career on that foundation. This makes challenging work rewarding. It is also important as women to believe in ourselves and our ability to be the best at what we do. In my role as a Global Talent Officer, I come across exceptionally talented women who have extraordinary achievements through their work often in male dominated sectors. These women are and will continue to be an inspiration to many.

 

Su-Ann Tan

Dr Su-Ann Tan is the founding director of The Australian National University’s (ANU) Southeast Asia Liaison Office and is responsible for enhancing the profile and reputation of ANU in the region by actively engaging with a range of key stakeholders and facilitating productive institutional and individual relationships in the areas of research funding, educational collaboration, public policy, philanthropy, alumni relations and student recruitment. Su-Ann has over a decade of experience in the Australian Higher Education sector, where she has led strategic engagement and communication initiatives through management positions in international marketing, communication, engagement, business development, and student recruitment. She has been the Manager of Outreach and Communication for the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs in the College of Asia and the Pacific, and prior to that was Regional Manager (China, Singapore and Malaysia) in the ANU International Student Recruitment division. Su-Ann holds a doctorate in intercultural communication and cross-cultural psychology. She has lectured and published on intercultural communication, adaptation, and the international student experience. 

Pledge:

I’ll recognise and reward hard work of all individuals – regardless of gender and socio-cultural norms #EachforEqual

What motivates you and what do you love most about living in “land of opportunity” Singapore?

As a product of the “land of opportunity” Singapore, I am proud of my strong work ethic and my commitment to high quality outcomes. On that basis, I am driven to give back to the society that helped raise me. But more specifically, there’s an honour associated with being the representative of Australia’s national university. The Australian National University (ANU) has a well-deserved reputation for world class research and education, and I’m strongly motivated by the responsibility to appropriately and adequately represent the interests of the ANU in Southeast Asia. A region with over 600 million people, and monumental social, political and cultural diversity.

This year the Australian High Commission Singapore is focusing on our campaign: Sustainability: We Mean Business. What does Sustainability mean to you?

For me, sustainability is about thinking globally and acting locally. It’s a mindset. A cultural paradigm shift. We need to establish a conservation and sustainable mindset as the new standard. And we need to realise that this isn’t just good for the environment, that this is good for business too. Not only from a social-responsibility perspective, but also from an innovation and collaboration perspective.

What collective action and shared responsibilities do you action to drive a gender equal world?

In my household, we take a very individualist approach to gender equality – the right person for the right job, regardless of gender. For example, my husband is the stay at home parent while I go to work. Rather than be bound by the traditional or the normal, we choose to do what’s best for us and our family. And for us, that means the woman as the ‘bread winner’.

What advice can you give to women interested in a career within your industry?

 I’ve found the higher education sector to be incredibly supportive of women. It is very forward thinking and very focused on delivering great outcomes for women and other disadvantaged groups in the workplace.

But there’s always room for improvement. And given the higher education sector is the gateway to a better society, I’d love to see even more women in senior leadership in this field. So I’d encourage all young women who are considering a career in higher education, whether it be academically or professionally, to really go for it.