Scholars conversations – Manal Al Sharif

As part of the Perth Writers Festival, UWA Fogarty Scholars and Alumni shared a morning with author and activist, Manal Al Sharif.  Manal candidly shared her amazing story of activism, including being incarcerated, but eventually leading to reform in Saudi Arabia.

With a Bachelor of Science in computing, Manal shared stories of being the only woman working in her company.  She shared personal insights into how to remain mentally strong, while relentlessly striving for what is right and was particularly inspiring about small daily rituals, like meditation, that have helped her develop an inner strength and obvious tenacity. She espoused the benefits of forgiveness and demonstrated a strong focus on self-belief.

As a Saudi Arabian women’s rights activist who helped start a women’s right to drive campaign in 2011, Manal published her first book in 2017 – ‘Daring to Drive: a Saudi Woman’s Awakening.’ Following her driving campaign, al-Sharif remained an active critic of the Saudi government, tweeting on issues including imprisoned female foreign workers, calling for government reform, and highlighting the inequalities faced by young Saudi girls, sometimes leading to death at the hands of their father or brothers. Her work has been widely recognized.

Time magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2012.

Scholars commented that Manal al Sharif shared how even small actions that individuals can take, can lead to significant change.  It was also great to see Manal’s curiosity of young Australians, as she also had many questions for our Scholars and Alumni.

In June 2018 Saudi women will finally have the right to drive in their own country.

As part of the Leadership Program, Fogarty Scholars have the opportunity to meet with exceptional leaders in the community.  At the latest Leaders Series event scholars met with Craig Challen, SC, OAM – joint winner of the 2019 Australian of the Year.  

You will likely recognise Craig Challen from the news. As an experienced technical diver, Craig played a pivotal role in the 2018 cave rescue operation in Thailand to evacuate 12 children and an adult from the flooded Tham Luang Cave system. 

He was awarded the Star of Courage (SC) and Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) by the Governor-General of Australia for his role in the rescue and was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Direkgunabhorn by the King of Thailand. He is also a veterinary surgeon and all round exceptional West Australian.

Scholar Connor McLaughlin writes about five key insights he learnt from Craig Challen: The Five Things I Learned from Craig Challen.

In August 2017, we hosted the Leader Series Breakfast.  Over 150 people came together at the University Club, UWA.  This represented UWA Fogarty Scholars, Business and community leaders and UWA leaders. An expert panel explored…how we can create a growing community in WA.  Check out what happened…

As part of the Leader Series Program, our annual breakfast sparked some thoughtful debate on what the future of WA will look like and how we can each take a part in creating a growing community in WA.  Esteemed guests took part in the event including the Honourable Sue Ellery MLC, Minister for Education and Training; Professor Dawn Freshwater, Vice Chancellor, UWA, the incoming UWA Chancellor, the Honourable Robert French, US Consul General, Rachel Cooke; and Janet Holmes á Court – UWA Fogarty Scholar Patron.

The discussion was led by an expert panel:

The moderator for the event was Elena Douglas, CEO Knowledge Society.

Upskilling our workforce and creating a pipeline of technology savvy workers, ready to take on the changing world of work was a common theme expressed on the day, as well as acknowledging the importance of keeping our best and brightest in WA.  They all identified the changing workplace as an opportunity for growth.

Professor Peter Klinken said “data is the gold of the future.” It is how we use it, that will become crucial. Naveen Unni stated the “technology is no longer a choice” and that organisations and individuals will have to demonstrate agility to make the most of these new opportunities. Mark Shelton concurred and saw that WA had an “opportunity to be the creators of tech, not the victim.”

Creating a pipeline of educated passionate workers, well prepared to take on new ways of working, retaining talent in WA, and creating tech opportunities to move WA forward were strong messages from the forum. Harnessing new skills and an entrepreneurial spirit was considered essential to create a growing community in WA.  An entrepreneurial mindset can move our state forward, and as Mark Shelton described this:  “To be an entrepreneur is to be thrown in the deep end and to learn as you go.”

Read a summary of the event here.

Professor JONATHON CARAPETIS describes himself as a dad, husband, doctor, paediatrician, manager and bloke.  His achievements and capacity to influence are extraordinary and the UWA Fogarty Scholars were fortunate to have an exclusive opportunity to have a Conversation with Professor Carapitis – the Director of the Telethon Kids Institue – and discover so much more…

The UWA Fogarty Scholars were inspired as they heard insights from Prof Jonathon Carapetis, the Head of the Telethon Kids Institute, during a recent Scholars Conversation, held at the Harry Perkins Institute.

Professor Carapetis shared his passion for making a difference in his field of child health and told of how his experiences, as a student and practitioner, shaped him as a successful medical practitioner, researcher and leader.  While being named as one of Australia’s top 100 brains, he was able to clearly articulate how taking opportunities and seeking to emulate successful and respected leaders shaped his career.

Although his background has been in the health field, the lessons he passed on were relevant to all.  Here is what some of the scholars had to say:

“I was inspired to do medical research, to be guided by my values and to dedicate myself to a limited number of things rather than try to do everything and be mediocre at them all.”

“Don’t be afraid of asking for mentorship and to not expect to be the best at everything. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.”

“To be the difference and to not be afraid to sway from the norm.”

“To actively seek out mentors and to work out my raison-d’etre, or my driving reason for doing what I do.”

“Approach people to be mentors”

“So many things were said that were relevant to me, as I am studying medical sciences at the moment. The importance of research as a gateway to leadership in medicine was an interesting takeaway from the night. Having mentors, staying true to one’s values, and maintaining work-life balance were also key themes from the night.”

“It was an exceptional talk.”

In May, we hosted a workshop led by the WA State Director of CEDA, Paula Rogers.  She has vast experience in networking and communication.  These ‘soft’ skills are incredibly important in today’s world of work. Check out some of the highlights…

As part of the Leader Series Program, the UWA Fogarty Scholars got some valuable insights about ‘Personal Branding’ from Paula Rogers at a recent workshop.  Paula is the CEDA WA State Director and has considerable experience in marketing, communication and creating effective networks.

As identified by the scholars, here are Paula’s top 5 tips on creating a LinkedIn profile that aids the development of your personal brand and other networking advice.

1) Profile – It’s better to have no profile than one which is unprofessional or one that doesn’t do you justice.

2) Photo – It is important to remember that LinkedIn is a professional networking website and many people will base their first impression of you on that photo. With this being said, Paula suggests that when you choose your photo you should ask friends or family what picture they prefer and why, so you can better understand what your picture is saying about you!

3) Summary – The summary section in your LinkedIn profile is where you can summarize who you are, what you do, what you’re passionate about, what drives you and so on. Although many people on LinkedIn write their summaries in third person, Paula suggests that it is better to have your summary in first person.

4) Stay Active – Remember to keep your profile active and hence if you read an interesting article, feel free to share it on your LinkedIn profile. Note: Articles you share will be seen by others viewing your profile and hence you should consider if sharing said article will impact your image.

5) Networking – Don’t be afraid to message people you haven’t met before to ask them to talk or grab a coffee. As NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky wisely said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” and hence you having nothing to lose by sending a message to someone you might be inspired to work with or learn from.

Last week we hosted a CONVERSATION with KIM BEAZLEY, former Labor leader and deputy Prime Minister of Australia, as part of the Leadership Program.

The session was enlightening, insightful and entertaining – a true demonstration of leadership authenticity! From stories about midnight conversations with Bob Hawke to Kim’s experiences with the US education system and his views on the upcoming US election and candidates, we covered a lot of ground.


Beazley’s consideration of Hawke and Keating through Bagehot’s lens of ‘ordinary people, extraordinary administrative capacity’ is definetely an interesting way to think about leadership styles…I’ll try and consider political personalities within this framework in the future.

– Jonathon Israel

Political leadership is about bringing people along with you in your endeavours, in working towards a vision in which all can share in benefits of its completion.

– Thomas Coltrona

It is important to understand your belief system so that you don’t just have a collection of opinions that lack cohesion.

– Libby Weeda

Hope to see you at the next Leaders Series Event on Wednesday 21 September from 5-7pm with Justice Carmel McClure QC, President of the Court of Appeal, at the UWA Law School. Eventbrite tickets will soon be available.

Also, save the date for the inspirED event (formerly ‘The Remarkable’s) on Tuesday 18 October from 5-730pm at BloomLab, UWA. Let us know if there are any Scholars and/or Alumni you’d particularly like to hear from at this.