The Smith Family knows all too well the important role education plays in creating better futures. The charity focuses on helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds get the qualifications they need to succeed in today’s competitive business landscape. 

Judy Tanna, the charity’s National Major Donor Relationship Manager, recently won a Westpac Mary Reibey scholarship to attend an AGSM General Management course – and is now even more focused on the importance of education.

“After seeing the impact the course has had on my day-to-day working life and overall career aspirations, I’m making it a priority to pursue further study,” says Judy. 

“As a single working mother of three, it would have taken many months of planning and saving to attend the course – and it probably wouldn’t have happened,” says Judy. “Winning the scholarship was exactly the push I needed.”


The course offers a holistic approach to personal development as well as thorough discussions of general management techniques. Combining traditional components such as ‘finance and risk’ with non-traditional segments such as ‘how to use other sources of power’ was a winning combination for Judy.

“When we ran through the schedule on day one, it was clear each and every aspect of being a confident and competent manager was going to be covered,” she says. 


“The insights from Jo O’Reilly’s ‘impact and presence’ workshop have completely transformed my approach and attitude towards public speaking,” says Judy. “The importance of posture, breathing and planning an entrance and exit to the stage I found particularly useful, as a significant part of my job involves speaking to large groups of people and the media.

“In fact, just days after graduating I was speaking to a collection of members of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, opening with the elevator pitch I’d practiced on the course.

“I felt confident and relaxed as I delivered my concise message, and could tell the audience was engaged and interested from the moment I started. I even received several comments afterwards – and many pledges of support for The Smith Family.”


A section of the course is devoted to increasing the awareness leadership style has on staff members, and Judy has seen positive benefits – for herself and for her team.

“Working for the largest national children’s charity can be very emotional,” says Judy. “The course stressed the importance of remaining calm and resilient while taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. Adopting this mindset has made me more productive at work, and I’ve seen the productivity of my staff increase as well.”


Currently working on a fundraising strategy called the Children’s Future Education Fund, Judy is actively applying methods and techniques learned during the course.

“Our goal is to raise $100million by our 100th birthday in 2022, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the charity,” says Judy. “The time spent on the course developing strategic mindsets and learning how to build a performance culture has helped enormously in shaping a marketing plan and framework to achieve this goal.”


Packed days of learning broken up with exercise, nutritious food, and frequent breaks helped Judy stay focused and present throughout the course. 

“I‘m an early riser so welcomed the opportunity to get up and exercise before breakfast,” she says. “The structure of the course helped keep me focused and energised throughout the days to absorb as much as possible. All the lecturers were excellent, each experts in their chosen field, and the obvious enjoyment they get from teaching the course is infectious.

“I refer to my notes and the course material frequently, particularly when approaching a strategic project or a public speaking engagement,” says Judy. “Since completing the course, I’ve been inspired to enrol in several other professional development courses, and am currently looking at enrolling in the Online MBAX course at AGSM.”