As International Women's Day 2024 champions the importance of investing in women, UNSW Business School celebrates our alumnae's and students' achievements and their inspiring stories of personal investment, career advancement, and advice on accelerating progress.

#AccelerateProgress #IWD2024

Jane Aslanidis, Global Executive

Tell us about yourself

I went to school locally at SCEGGS Darlinghurst in Sydney and obtained a Commerce and Master of International Relations degree from UNSW. I also completed courses at Oxford and the London School of Economics. I am deeply passionate about using this education to help others.  

Business skills and international investment experiences have defined my career path, and I contribute these to creating prosperous economies and a healthy planet. 

For entire communities to thrive, giving women equal opportunities to learn, earn and lead is a brilliant and timely theme for this year's International Women's Day. 


What did you invest in yourself to get to where you are now? And advice can you give to others who want to invest in themselves?  

When reflecting on what I have invested in my career path, I can think of three standout investments. I do hope this helps you when navigating your career journey: 

1. Continuous learning and adaptation  

While my school and university studies are over, it doesn't mean that learning stopped. I constantly seek new knowledge and information and pivot when I need clarity on directing my energy and actions. 

My advice to others is to read widely and weirdly. Challenge yourself to be open to new perspectives, ideas and solutions. Whether you take a generalist or specialist career path, keep your horizons broad. 

2. Courage to challenge the status quo  

I have pursued unconventional paths and ideas when exploring issues that have meaning and impact on many people and cultures across the globe - such as emerging technology, gender equality, food systems, conservation and the environment. Being bold means being unafraid to take risks, innovate and push boundaries. 

My advice to others is to be self-aware, not self-important. I am so proud and encouraged to see young women and girls standing up for themselves and our collective future in real, authentic ways. 

3. Resilience and perseverance  

I've faced numerous obstacles and setbacks, too many to count. With a long career path ahead, criticism or opposition creates challenges when deciding what to invest in or how to move forward. These are opportunities to cultivate a growth mindset and recognise when I need to take care of myself so that I am better placed to help others. 

My advice to others is to be kind to yourself. Failure and rejection are essential parts of the process; don't forget that. Look at your future with optimism, hope and empathy.

Danielle Dunsmore, Gold Coast Mayoral Candidate and Change Manager at Brisbane City Council. Current MBAX student.

Tell us about yourself 

I'm a Gold Coaster, and I attended Keebra Park High before taking on a journalism cadetship with a local newspaper. I was keen on pursuing journalism; I spent my school holidays working at the local newspaper. Despite performing poorly in grade 12, the editor encouraged me to give it another go. I repeated the year and secured my cadetship. In hindsight, they created a job for me; I was incredibly keen. 

After three years of journalism cadetship, I shifted careers and focused more on PR, marketing, engagement and events. I also obtained an art administration business certificate at Queensland University and Technology and took several courses, and I am currently studying for an MBA at AGSM.  

One of my proudest achievements is winning the Property Council of Australia High Achiever Award 2016. I suggest putting yourself forward for awards. It makes you take a good look at your work, plus it's fun to dress up and celebrate your achievements. 


What did you invest in yourself to get to where you are now? 

The investment I made to get to where I am now has been an ongoing element of my personality. I have a goal in my head, and then I work out the steps to get there. In a workplace, this is formal planning for a project, but personally, it is a constant idea you keep on top of your mind. One tip I use is to have your goals as your passwords; then, you are reminded of them multiple times a day.  

Stay focused on your goal, but stay flexible in your approach. Life throws obstacles, but if you're determined, you'll find a way around or incorporate them into your journey. Just like hill running—short sharp hills, long slow hills, dark, rain, heat, companions, or solo—you might get lapped or pass someone. Keep chipping away, one step at a time, and you'll reach the top.  

However, knowing when to stop is crucial. I wouldn't sacrifice my home or partner to achieve these goals. You must identify your limits and what you're willing to forgo to reach your goal.   

I also have a personal philosophy that there is no reason why I can't be the best in the world at what I am doing, as I'm no different to someone in London, New York, or Paris. I always try to be the best I can be at everything.  

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?   

Losing my job a few times has been my best career move, and my advice is not to be afraid. I was shoved out of my comfort zone to try something new, and my life took off in an incredible new direction that I would not have dreamed of. One example is when I lost a job in a shopping centre. I then looked after the retailers and shopping centres in a travel behaviour change programme for the Commonwealth Games, leading to Organisational Change Management – a job I love. 

My other piece of advice is to be open to all new opportunities. Having thoughts such as ‘I’d only work for a big-name company’ might limit you, and you can miss out on working on another opportunity that allows you to excel in the role. Being open to new opportunities may also let you start your own company.  

Also, be aware of the rules you make for yourself, such as “I’m bad at presentations.” Thoughts like this might not be accurate, but I think they can be self-perpetuating. Listen to the stories you tell yourself, and you might suddenly become aware of some self-limiting rules. Try flipping the story in your head to ‘I’m amazing at presentations”. Flipping this will help you understand and execute the work you must do so you can excel in your role.  

Cherie Thompson, Owner of Native Secrets and UNSW Program Manager for Indigenous Leadership Programs

Tell us about yourself 

I am a proud Wailwan Woman who grew up in Wiradjuri Country in Dubbo, Central West NSW. I completed my education in Dubbo at Dubbo Senior College, then went on to Charles Stuart University, and completed my Bachelor of Education in 2010.  

I have a Master's in Business Administration Executive (MBAX) from the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM). I currently work at the AGSM as a Client Relationship Manager for the Indigenous Leadership Programs, as well as running my own business, Native Secrets. 

What did you invest in yourself to get to where you are now? 

In the pursuit of reaching my current state, I've invested significant time and effort in a multifaceted approach to personal and professional development. First and foremost, I committed to continuous education, which laid the foundation for my understanding of business and continued to build my confidence as a businesswoman.  

Additionally, I continued seeking guidance from experienced individuals who offered invaluable insights into navigating the complexities of the professional world. Balancing work and personal life has been crucial; family has always come first, making me the best version of myself.  

On the professional front, I have consistently pursued opportunities for skill enhancement and career growth through workshops, conferences, and online courses. I learned to view challenges as opportunities for growth, fostering resilience and perseverance.  

What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders? 

My advice for those embarking on their career journey is to remain open-minded, resilient, and committed to lifelong learning. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, seek mentorship, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. The journey is as important as the destination; every experience contributes to your professional and personal development.