By: Stephanie Vasiliou, National Programs Manager
Last year on International Women’s Day, I had the privilege of being highlighted by my colleagues. I consider myself quite fortunate because the support I felt on that one day is something I have been lucky to receive all throughout the year. This has been through the team, my family and close friends. They’ve all contributed to helping me build my confidence, pushing me to go for new opportunities, and allowing me to be my whole strange self, in and out of work.
At batyr, we work with a group of outstanding women. They are smart, driven, compassionate and basically all rounders in my opinion (they also have the perfect dosage of strange, too). They work extremely hard towards making a difference in the lives of young Australians, which is not easy work.
On this day, there are three particular women I wanted to celebrate – and perhaps even make them feel a tad overwhelmed with embarrassment and pride that I felt last year.
The first person I wanted to highlight is Jenya Kalagurgevic. Jenya has been batyr’s Media, Marketing & Communications Manager for over three years, and I can’t imagine this place without her. Jenya has played a significant role in making the batyr brand what it is, and to me, that’s a pretty amazing legacy to have. Jenya has a calm nature about her, balanced with a quirky zest for life that brightens up the office every day, in particular on Fridays (you’d know what I mean if you’ve seen Jenya on a Friday). I’ve seen first hand Jenya balance her significant workload with supporting her colleagues and friends through hard times. The work Jenya does means that young people feel more comfortable to approach batyr, and to have positive conversations on mental health. She’s directly contributed to our growth, and is a very special colleague and friend.
On the topic of impressive women, Amy Brown, our UTS Coordinator is definitely another one. During significant change within Amy’s team over the year, Amy dealt with this change and the challenges that came with it in the most positive and constructive way. Not everyone can do this, but Amy’s ability to see the bigger picture and prioritise the young people she is trying to reach makes her a natural leader. Not only has Amy demonstrated such positive qualities in the work she does and how she carries herself, but she is one of the kindest, most caring people I have ever met. Amy has an exceptionally bright future ahead of her with her career, and I feel very lucky I’ve been able to work alongside Amy over the last year. Amy has made a difference in my own life and has inspired me to think about the type of leader I want to be myself, and I’m very grateful to Amy for that.
A third incredible person I want to highlight is one of our speakers, Courtney Robson. Court did our Being Herd speaker training workshop back in 2015, and since then I have seen her grow and flourish an unbelievable amount. I remember facilitating Court’s workshop and seeing this young person bravely share about her lived experience. Court then decided she wanted to take the next step in sharing at our school programs and even joined us on our first regional roadshow tour this year, hitting the road for a couple of weeks to reach young people in regional and rural communities. What has stood out to me about Court is she recognised what lights her up, and that is travel and living in places all around the world. Court has a level of self-awareness I admire that allows her to do what she needs to do to manage her wellbeing and make the most of life. This quality to do what makes her happy while pushing herself out of her comfort zone is something I have always found inspiring, and is something that makes Court an exceptional person.
It’s days like today that helps me take a step back from the day to day and really think about people who have shaped the type of leader I want to be. Something I want to take away from today is to think about how to not just recognise impressive people like Jenya, Amy & Court on International Women’s Day, but to think about how we can all celebrate the people making a difference to us every day. This day is a great example of how we can lift each other up, no matter the gender, and highlight the great work, skills and qualities those around us have that truly are making an impact. Here’s to not just these three women, but to all of us.
By Stephanie Vasiliou, National Programs Manager.