Closing the gap: a commitment to gender equality

Empowering women in leadership
Our partnership with UN Women Australia has made it possible for more than 20 inspiring individuals to undertake the MBA. Read their stories.

Chantal Mousad

Senior Manager, Business Controls & Monitoring (Value Chain), Westpac

From Syria to Iraq to Australia, Chantal Mousad overcame personal tragedy and rejection, seeking refuge to build a better life for herself and her daughter. Despite initial challenges, Chantal now holds a senior position at Westpac.

Chantal's unique journey to Australia has given her a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion – an area for which she will advocate as the latest recipient of the UN Women Australia MBA Scholarship. She said the opportunity to undertake her MBA at Sydney will help her long-term goal to be a changemaker for diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I didn’t get this scholarship because I was the smartest or most educated, but because of what I’ve achieved and want to achieve – my story and my dream. It’s not enough just to talk about gender equality. You need to advocate for women, for refugees, for Aboriginal people, and anyone who does not have equal opportunity.

Melanie Withnall

Head of News & Information, Southern Cross Austereo (SCA)

Melanie Withnall was awarded the UN Women Australia MBA scholarship in 2023, worth over $60,000 for the part-time MBA. 

Melanie guides the news department of one of Australia’s largest media organisations, overseeing more than 50 journalists across more than 30 markets to deliver news to 9 million Australians per week.

Melanie embodies a strong commitment to enhancing women’s leadership and driving social change. Her extensive career in the media industry is backed by the drive to provide listeners with the information they need to enhance their lives.

Recently, Melanie directed the production of award-nominated audio docu-series, Secrets We Keep: Shame, Lies & Family, which explored the unconscionable circumstances of forced adoption in Australia in the 1960s and 1970s and the challenges faced by young women in impossible situations.

“The University of Sydney has such a well-regarded MBA and I know the learnings, skills and connections will supercharge the next phase of my career and enable me to provide further opportunities for other women and develop more unique projects to spark societal change in Australia and abroad.”

Martha Vasquez

Executive General Manager of Operations, Growing Potential

In 2022, Martha Vasquez was awarded the UN Women Australia MBA scholarship, which funds the study of the University of Sydney Business School’s part-time MBA.

Right after high school, Martha entered the nursing profession, specialising in midwifery and then child and family health as she gradually worked her way up from enrolled nurse to chief executive officer.

Her current role is Executive General Manager of Operations at Growing Potential, where she manages six childcare centres and an early intervention and disability support service for children 0-14 years across Western Sydney.

“Over the course of my career I’ve seen shifts in healthcare and nursing, to the point that public hospitals really run with a business focus now. I need to understand those changing dynamics if I’m to contribute in a meaningful way. It’s important for women to have a voice in every area, and it’s great for me to have an impact at this level to help improve the lives of families, women and children.”

Laurena Basutu

Engineering Manager Fleet, Transport for NSW

As Engineering Manager Fleet with Transport for NSW, Laurena’s engineering career has seen her contribute to the compliance, safety and quality of a variety of rail projects including freight, intercity fleet and regional fleet.

Her long-term goal is to create sustainable infrastructure that gives women physical, economic and social access to opportunities – a lofty aim inspired by her family’s move from Zimbabwe to Narooma (on the NSW far south coast) in the early 2000s.

“Undertaking this MBA under the UN Women’s Australia scholarship will also keep me motivated to continue to pursue change. Coming from a country with a complicated geopolitical climate, I’ve seen the positive impact that sustainable development work can have on supporting indigenous people to set up the structures and civil society to lift themselves out of poverty. I want to be a part of that. I want to use my skills to change the lives of women and girls in rural, regional and developing communities.”

Natasha Jha Bhaskar

Executive Director, Newland Global Group

Natasha is the Executive Director of Newland Global Group, a leading corporate advisory firm specialising in the Australia-India trade investment space. Natasha’s work is focussed on trade opportunities, investment flows, market trends and direct dealings with Indian businesses and government. Natasha is driven by the ambition to build connections, insights and capabilities, that deepen bilateral economic ties and execute the Australian Government’s vision of the India Economic Strategy to 2035 and Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement.

"I feel absolutely thrilled and honoured to be awarded the UN Women Australia MBA scholarship The scholarship brings a deep sense of responsibility and will be instrumental in shaping my leadership path and choices going forward, to be a change agent creating scalable impact and assisting others in finding their voice and agency."

Jen Radford

Jen Radford

Director, EnergyCo NSW

Jen Radford is the 20th recipient of the scholarship. She hopes to utilise her MBA to empower women in the Pacific Islands and other disadvantaged areas to start impactful and thriving businesses.

"Across the projects I have worked on it has been clear that business skills are the key driver of social change and I am passionate about supporting and facilitating these skills, particularly for women," she said.

"I have witnessed the same challenges and barriers to empowering women to leverage the economic opportunities of infrastructure projects, time and time again. An MBA will complement my commercial law background and practical experienceat the community level to develop improved programs to support women to build and maintain sustainable businesses."

Kudzai Kanhutu

Dr Kudzai Kanhutu

Infectious Diseases Physician, The Royal Melbourne Hospital and NorthWestern Mental Health

Dr Kudzai Kanhutu is an infectious diseases physician in Melbourne who has a longstanding commitment to global public health, equitable health outcomes and health service improvement. As senior staff specialist, Kudzai has contributed to organisational responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the worst affected residential aged care facilities in Melbourne.

"I am continually re-evaluating my life with respect to my career goals and the wider impact for those I care for."

"I celebrate the prospect that an MBA can provide new skills with which to advocate for social justice. To continue the fight for women’s self-determination and ensure the flow of money and power is equitably distributed. Not only to women but for people across the gender diversity spectrum."

Katherine Passmore


Senior Economics Officer, Asian Development Bank

Katherine Passmore is currently Senior Economics Officer in the private sector with a strong passion and goal to empower women to achieve their potential through business.

Katherine has international experience working with female leaders in the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga and is currently looking at ways to work with women CEOs of Pacific development banks, looking to emerging technologies and global trends to create a platform and banking products that will improve women’s ability to access finance and become leaders in business.

"With the skills I’ll learn from the MBA, I will be able to design and lead projects and design policies that focus on women’s empowerment through business, managing teams with vision, and bringing other women in my organisation along for the journey." 

“Leadership isn’t necessarily defined by your job title. I want to be a leader in my field, inspiring others and creating an environment where everyone feels empowered to do their best. I’m excited to put these skills into practice and bring other women in my organisation along for the journey.” 

Lisa Clack

Lisa Clack

Director Corporate and Commercial Services, Town of Cambidge

Lisa Clack is currently the Director Corporate and Commercial Services at the Town of Cambridge. Previously she held the position of Executive Manager Customer and Community Services at the Shire of East Pilbara which she joined after two decades of experience leading public policy development and community programs, in roles within both State and Local Government.

Lisa hopes the MBA will expose her to a wide breadth of business skills and thinking than what she might find closer to home.

“In the Pilbara, we are more isolated, issues are complex, and there is less support than would be available in a city. Individuals need to push themselves to be better in almost every aspect of work."

“The MBA is part of that journey for me, and I hope it will make a real difference to what I can achieve in my work on the ground in the Pilbara."

mayuri manraj

Mayuri Manraj

Principal, Aurecon

Mayuri Manraj is currently a Principal with the Australian subsidiary of the global infrastructure consultancy company Aurecon Australia Pty Ltd, which she joined after migrating from Mauritius and completing her engineering studies.

Over the past seven years Ms Manraj has worked on what she calls "city-shaping" projects in Victoria and NSW and she has long been passionate about culturally diverse project teams.

"As a champion for diversity in the workplace, I strongly advocate for increased flexibility and change in our hiring practices not only to eliminate unconscious biases but also to encourage more women into the engineering industry. With the help of the part-time MBA, my goal is to lead a business unit which delivers projects that supports communities worldwide to thrive in a sustainable way."

Dr Sarah Michael

Dr Sarah Michael

Director of Psychological Wellbeing, MDOK Program, Sydney Local Health District

Dr Sarah Michael is currently Director of Psycological Wellbeing, MDOK Program at Sydney Local Health District. Previously, she held the position of Deputy Director of Medical Services at Sydney St Vincent's hospital where she was responsible for almost 400 junior doctors and has developed a number of wellbeing and teaching initiatives. Dr Michael has also improved governance structures and established a Centre of Excellence for Aboriginal Junior Doctors.

She plans to use the skills gained through the Global Executive MBA program to "develop a legacy supporting junior doctors with a focus on female and indigenous doctors."

"I believe this affirmative action, which is the first of its kind in NSW and possibly Australia, is an opportunity to support Aboriginal junior doctors during their prevocational and specialist training, recognising they may face greater challenges than others."

"It also aims to develop them into the future leaders of tomorrow's healthcare system, working alongside them to better our nation's Indigenous health outcomes," she said.

Philippa Macaskill

Philippa Macaskill 

General Counsel and Head of Responsible Investment, Auscap Asset Management

Philippa is General Counsel and Head of Responsible Investment at Auscap Asset Management. While practicing commercially, she is also heavily involved in pro bono matters across the child rights, human rights, refugee and asylum seeker, and international criminal law areas.

Philippa has worked with the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre (now Youth Law Australia), represented asylum seekers and refugees before the Australian Human Rights Commission and the High Court, and worked on war crimes investigations flowing from the Sri Lankan civil war.

“Throughout my career, I have sought to have an impact through my involvement in legal pro bono and community work,” Philippa said. “I would now like to expand my skill set to enable me to better contribute to, and take on further leadership roles within, community and business organisations.”

Amelia Franklin

Amelia Franklin

Founder and Director, People of Coffee NGO

Amelia Franklin is the Founder and Director of People of Coffee, an Australian not-for-profit to better reflect its community values.

“I have been advocating for women in coffee since the day I started roasting and inspiring more women to be involved in the coffee industry,” said Amelia. “Specifically, I have been working to empower women by giving them access to markets through my commercial coffee roastery and introducing their coffee to other coffee buyers.”

Amelia believes that the Global Executive MBA program will allow her to continue to achieve meaningful outcomes for all women in coffee. “Women will be the leaders in the face of climate change in the coffee industry as they do over 70 percent of the work and are left on the land while the men look for work elsewhere,” she said.

Angela Lauman

Angela Lauman

Principal Solicitor, Consumer Law Centre of the ACT

For the past decade, Angela Lauman has fought for justice for women and girls in the corridors of world power and on the streets of the national capital in her confronting role as a lawyer for Legal Aid ACT and the ACT Women’s Legal Centre. She has driven a “respectful relationships” program in schools, joined an ACT Ministerial Advisory Council, worked to address financial abuse, represented Australian women at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women and sat on numerous committees.

Angela is justifiably known as a leading advocate for gender equality and women’s leadership and she intends to continue her campaign with the help of a part-time MBA.

“I am committed to building my business and management skills, and ultimately my goal is to run and manage a community sector organisation,” said Angela. “I see an opportunity such as completing the MBA as a key piece in the puzzle of achieving this goal.”

Tara Edgtton

Tara Edgtton

Australian Federal Police Officer

Tara Edgtton has been a sworn Australian Federal Police Officer for 20 years and has worked across a diverse range of leadership and support roles, including most recently as Acting Director of Leadership Education (Design) at the Australian Institute of Police Management (AIPM).

While at the AIPM, Ms Edgtton developed the ‘Balance: Women Leaders in Public Safety’ program, which is designed to empower women in leadership as well as improve women’s lives, safety, and capacity to contribute to the community.

“Growing the Balance program was a privilege and challenge driven by my passion for positive change and my deeply held values and beliefs about women succeeding as leaders.

“I believe the University of Sydney MBA will allow me to improve my management and leadership skills to create an environment that encourages outstanding innovation and motivation for individual and organisational success. I look forward to the opportunity to see what works for gender equity from other industries to share with own organisation.”

Katie Moore, UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship recipient

Katie Moore

General Manager - Policy, Research and Strategic Projects, Reconciliation Australia

Katie Moore describes herself as a proud Wiradjuri woman from Western Sydney, and believes that the tourism industry in regional areas has the ability transform the lives of Indigenous Australians through employment, training and economic development.

Her bachelor’s degree is in international tourism management, and she is now driving strategic projects with Indigenous Business Australia which assists Indigenous Australians to buy their own homes, establish successful businesses and invest in profitable commercial ventures.

“Through IBA I have observed that there is a great need for innovation and an ability to deliver social and economic solutions to all Australians. Through the MBA I hope to develop new knowledge and understandings of how business can have an impact, particularly in regional Australia.”

Emma Brown, UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship recipient

Emma Brown

Group Chief Financial Officer, Medius

Group Chief Financial Officer (Marlin Equity Partners) at Medius, Emma Brown, is passionate about empowering her staff through authentic, effective communication and recognition of their individual value, and preparing the way for future generations of workers.

“I was absolutely thrilled (if not a little surprised!) to be awarded the scholarship. I will be able to draw upon a deep pool of knowledge and experience to ensure that I have the resources to make the greatest impact I can in my role. I would encourage anyone who is passionate about diversity, equality and positive social change to set self-doubt aside and apply. Regardless of the outcome, both the people you meet as part of the application process and involvement in the discussion forum will be truly invaluable.”

Claire Taylor, UN Women Australia MBA Scholarship recipient

Claire Taylor

Managing Director, My Property Circles and Bricks for Chicks

Claire Taylor is the Managing Director at My Property Circles and Bricks for Chicks where she manages a team of accountants, lawyers, property buyers and mortgage brokers who have created a strong and safe program where people can invest in property with others.

“It is a tremendous honour to have been awarded the scholarship. The University of Sydney MBA will allow me to bridge the gap between my existing skill set, and the management tools I need to be a stronger leader. The course will also broaden my networks, introduce me to innovative ways of thinking, and encourage me to dream bigger.

“Often, the role of a charity is seen as service delivery, capacity building, and advocacy. However, charities also need strong business management, sound financial advice, and a culture of fostering innovation. These are skills I hope to develop through the MBA."

Amanda Robbins, UN Women NC Australia Global Executive MBA Scholarship recipient

Amanda Robbins

Managing Director, Equity Economics

Amanda Robbins is the Managing Director of Equity Economics, a female-led policy consultancy, and Deputy-Director of Australia’s largest economic governance program, the Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Economic Governance. Amanda was awarded the UN Women Australia Global Executive MBA Scholarship.

“It can be difficult for people, often women, to prioritise investing in their education with competing pressures on their time, finances and interests. The scholarship has helped me to make the decision to return to study and make the time to think more deeply about the challenges facing organisations and leadership.

“Having worked in Jakarta for the last three years I was looking for a course that would bring me home to Sydney while still being connected to the global economy. The University of Sydney’s Global Executive MBA incorporates study in urban and rural Australia, India, America, England and Israel. It’s going to be a fascinating 18 months.”

Anmol Saini, UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship recipient

Anmol Saini

Senior Manager, Financial Management Group, Macquarie Group

Among her many other accomplishments, Anmol was influential in establishing the Virangana Project a not-for-profit initiative focussed on bridging the gap between the Australian & Indian start-up communities by providing entrepreneurial Indian women with mentoring support and opportunities to be flown to Australia to pitch to investors.

“I found myself researching this MBA scholarship program after being inspired by Emma Watson’s HeforShe launch campaign speech. What I discovered was a newly created MBA focused on personal transformation, self-awareness and self-management, together with the opportunity to support the UN Women Australia – it was exactly what I was looking for.

“To me, this MBA scholarship has been more than just an academic qualification. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime – a chance to question, challenge and re-define who I am and who I want to be, as a woman, a professional and a member of society.”

Dr Kim Johnstone, UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship recipient

Dr Kim Johnstone

Associate Director, Astrolabe Group 

Dr Kim Johnstone, Associate Director at Astrolabe Group, was the first external hire for when it was a cottage industry, two-person, start-up committed to making places better for the people who live, work and pass through there. 12 months later, there are nine people in the team, a range of partners they work with, and a multitude of interesting projects to work on.

“I've always been an advocate for women, starting when I was 12 and wanted to do woodwork instead of sewing at school, and continuing through my work. When I applied for the scholarship I was at a bit of a crossroads in my career. The scholarship provided a wonderful opportunity to expand my skills and reframe how I used my skills in my work and volunteer roles as non-Executive Director.

“It is a wonderful opportunity, and for women who are thinking about doing an MBA, you have nothing to lose by applying. I also found that the application process itself really invigorating, because it made me think about my career and how to improve women's representation at senior levels.”

Galina Barret, UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship recipient

Galina Barret

Lawyer and Economist

A lawyer and economist with experience in international relations, Galina Barret, is passionate about making further and more effective contributions to advancing the cause of women’s economic empowerment and gender equity by making the most of every opportunity.

“The most rewarding part of the journey has been recognising change – my own and that of my colleagues – in the way we approach different problems.

“There are many reasons the past year has expanded my world view; it has challenged me, required me to learn new ways of thinking and problem-solving that were not previously in my field of vision, and most of all, it has inspired me to go beyond the pedestrian. So if you’re thinking of further study, consider the UN Women Australia MBA Scholarship – you won’t regret it.”

Kerryn Richardson, UN Women NC Australia Global Executive MBA Scholarship recipient

Kerryn Richardson

Director Threatened Species and Ecological Communities Governance, Department of Climate Change, the Environment and Water

Kerryn Richardson is the first recipient of our UN Women Australia Global Executive MBA Scholarship, and the Director of Strategic Planning and Governance at the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. Her strong leadership has been evident across various roles within government organisations, as well as in the instrumental part she has played in mentoring other women to help them succeed.

“It is my vision to utilise my career to help people and the planet. The UN Women Australia Global Executive MBA Scholarship accelerates my ability to serve better outcomes.

“The program will equip me with the tools and perspectives to take back into organisational development and reveal new opportunities where I can value add. I will be exposed to a new learning environment, people and experiences to fully drive diversity and inclusion in practice as well as other efforts in designing action to create benefits in my workplace, using a full spectrum of as many tools as I can acquire.”

Adele Langton, UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship recipient

Adele Langton

Vice President, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program, New York

Adele Langton is Vice President of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women program based out of New York City. Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women is a global initiative that fosters economic growth by providing women entrepreneurs around the world with a business education, mentoring and networking, and access to capital. 

Prior to her role with 10,000 Women, Adele worked for five years in Washington D.C as country lead for an Australian-American consultancy firm, providing economic market and legal advice to major American firms.

Before moving to the United Sates Adele spent a decade working in a range of roles within the Australian Federal Government. She served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Federal Attorney General and Federal Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, focusing on human rights, anti-discrimination and federal law reform. Adele also worked as a senior government lawyer for the Commonwealth Government.  

“After a decade of focusing broadly on policy, I wanted to gain insights into different business models and a better understanding of leadership, and develop frameworks for a new way of looking at the world.

“The calibre of the other students was incredible. I studied with game-changers working in roles I didn’t even know existed, as well as alongside thought leaders and CEOs I had read about in the press.

“I would absolutely encourage others to apply. Make sure you park any reservations or hesitations about your likelihood of success, and also make sure to enjoy the process.”

Nancy Nguyen, UN Women NC Australia MBA Scholarship recipient

Nancy Nguyen

Hydrogen and New Ventures Commercialisation Manager, Woodside Energy

Nancy Nguyen was our inaugural recipient in 2014. A Perth based Commercial Manager for Woodside Energy with 11 years in the oil and gas industry, she is helping to transform the future of green energy, as well as further empower others on issues of gender diversity in the sector.

“My aspiration for applying for the scholarship was to hone my leadership and entrepreneurial capability to influence and establish clean energy options through the use of technology and innovation.

“The MBA program provided an immersive experience which pushed me outside my comfort zone and helped accelerate my thinking. It has been fundamental in realising my goals and purpose.”

27 February 2018

Related articles