Kelly Wu always knew that she was destined to use her voice to make a difference in the world. At five years old she planned to be a popstar: a lot has changed since then.
“We all have different gifts,” Kelly says. Unfortunately, for her, “singing was not one of them”.
Once she accepted that life as a popstar was not to be, Kelly turned her attention to other ways she could make herself heard. Her passion for performance grew into a love of public speaking and social justice.
She says that the decision to do a double Commerce/Law degree at UNSW following high school felt like the natural progression.
“I wanted to use my voice to point out things that aren’t fair, and to help those who don’t have a voice,” she says.
“I wanted to be able to help others who are lost, confused or are vulnerable, so that they can protect their rights. Since I am interested in entrepreneurship, I thought it would be a great idea to learn all the tips and tricks from a Commerce degree.”
Dreams of Aria charts long gone, Kelly threw herself enthusiastically into life at Law School and UNSW.
During her time at University, she served as Publications Director and Mentoring Director for the Law Society and was also HR Director, Vice-President and later Co-President of the UNSW Finance and Banking Society.
Kelly says that her proudest achievement while at UNSW was founding the HSBC Women in Finance Mentoring Program
last year, which connects female finance students with successful female industry professionals.
“There was no such program available to UNSW students at the time,” she says.
“It’s so important for the future of our financial industry that we build a pipeline of strong female finance professionals. The program is intended to allow female finance students to develop close relationships with experienced and accomplished professionals so that students can gain valuable insight into what it’s like being a female finance professional.”
In its first year, the program had 70 participants. This year, it grew to 80 and Kelly has high hopes for its ongoing expansion.
Kelly also took advantage of opportunities to study overseas during her degree.
She completed a summer school unit at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2016, using the trip to meet students from around the world and learn about their cultures and universities.
In London, Kelly also undertook a clerkship with Linklaters LLP, and has subsequently completed clerkships here in Sydney.
Since the first year of her degree, Kelly has balanced her studies with part-time work for several boutique and large law firms.
She says that having so many commitments was challenging at times, but despite being something of a juggling act, she encourages new students to embrace a range of opportunities during their time at university.
Kelly is enthusiastic about the benefits of getting involved in student societies and programs.
“Don’t just sign up on a form and rock up to some meetings! When you join, make sure you join wholeheartedly,” she says.
“This means taking the initiative to learn more, constantly thinking about how to improve the society, genuinely forming connections and friendships, taking quality advice from your informal mentors, and also sharing your experiences with others.”
Kelly has certainly followed her own advice. As well as her work, student leadership roles and her studies, she also found time to be a cast member of Law Revue in 2014 – so maybe those dreams of pop-stardom aren’t quite over after all.