MBA profile: Claire Taylor

Written by Claire Taylor
Claire Taylor, recipient of the UN Women Australia MBA Scholarship, talks about her experiences with the University of Sydney Business School MBA program.
Image of Claire Taylor

Achieving my future anything through the power of yes.

Eight years ago, I was at crossroads with my life and career. I commenced my career as a secondary English teacher. It was a wonderful vocation that took me to various schools in NSW and across the seas for a London adventure. I loved working with teenagers, and found my job both challenging and rewarding. But there was an itch for something more.

Ever since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by the intersection of politics and policy. I wanted to know how important decisions were made, why they were made, who could make them, how decision makers were empowered, and how I could influence this process.

Growing up in a regional community that was frequently impacted by detached decisions made in offices in Sydney and Canberra, my key interest has always been social policy.  I am passionate about equity and believe that education is the greatest driver of our equity. I was inspired yet I wasn’t sure how I could have a broader impact from outside the classroom.

The first step to changing my life and finding my future anything, was a minor attitude adjustment. To embrace change. As cliché as it sounds, in 2011, I made a New Years’ Resolution to seek out new adventures, and to say “yes” to every opportunity presented – no matter how terrifying.

That year, I moved from regional NSW to Sydney to begin working as a research assistant to a Member of Parliament, and even travelled across the country as a volunteer political campaigner – soaking up new experiences wherever possible.

My new career path eventually led to senior advisory roles with the NSW Education Minister, and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I will never forget the first meeting I attended with Government Ministers and senior bureaucrats, where they were genuinely interested in my views on a particular Education policy.

For a small-town teacher from the bush, I really felt that I was “faking it until making it” for my first years in Macquarie Street, but I eventually realised that everyone feels this way, and the key to defeating my imposter syndrome was to just keep saying “yes”.

Now, I work in Advocacy and Government Relations for a charity that supports vulnerable children and families from regional Australia. I applied to the MBA program to build the technical skills that I need to be the best advocate for equity that I can be.

Ironically, as I proceed through the MBA I feel that my future anything became blurred. But this is great. Having completed just over half of the MBA program, I am exposed to new ways of thinking. I am currently building a network of colleagues and friends with diverse experiences and perspectives.

I now see my path as leading with purpose and inspiring change. I have accepted that this path is not going to be linear, and may never be clear. As I embark on my journey, the skills I am gaining through the MBA will empower me to take bigger risks - to be a more valuable leader and to embrace the unknown.

I write this piece a few hours before I head to the hospital to have my first child and embark on a new journey that will be, without a doubt, my greatest leap into the unknown in my 35 years on this planet.

If there’s one lesson from my experiences to date that I hope to take with me into parenthood it comes from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. The lesson is not that there is only one valid path to a bright future, but rather that we must embrace our own journey, say yes to every opportunity, and never look back with regret.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

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1 July 2019

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