Statement of Intent

Someone told me once that your professional life only make sense when you look back on it. Though I may be only 10 years in, I find this to be very much the case for my fledgling career. My key areas of interest are ethics, economics and the places of intersection between these two seemingly disparate disciplines. I’m obsessed by why we do what we do, why we often do what is easy rather than what is good, and how we can begin to do things better. I want to explore how macro forces impact on our personal lives, and how our individual values shape the systems that govern us. I want to encourage others to be active participants in their own decision making. And I want to actually do things that go against the common belief that business and ethics cannot coexist.

My inclination has always been to try and make sense of things, and I’ve played with a bunch of different roles and approaches to try and get right to the core of it. My professional background is as a community strategist – bringing people together around a central issue, initiative or organisation using a mix of traditional communications (public relations, marketing, and events) and digital communications (social media, video, community management strategies). Alongside this though, I’m a writer and researcher and I’ve had my work published in a diverse range of print and online publications.

I spent several years embedded in the local fashion industry, developing a reputation as a thought leader for ethics and sustainability in the sector. I assembled an online community of more than 600 people working in fashion, who are working on initiatives or businesses focused on sustainability. I carved out a niche for myself in the industry, acting as an advisor, speaker, lecturer and project contractor to key industry groups (the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, RMIT University, The Spirit of the Black Dress, Melbourne Bike Fest, Melbourne Tweed Ride, The City of Melbourne, Melbourne School of Fashion, the Clothing Exchange, Kangan Institute). Even now, more than 18 months after I made the decision to leave the sector, I’m often approached to mentor and advise businesses and individuals still working through the complexities of the sector.

My work in the fashion industry allowed me to gain a strong understanding of a complex system, and a preliminary idea of how global economic systems create positive and/or negative outcomes for huge number of people around the world. My decision to leave the sector came from the realisation that the fashion sector is just a microcosm of the larger economic system. I left in search of bigger leverage points.

Right now, I’m really interested in how economics intersects with philosophy, social and cultural theory, and politics, and how it has emerged as the dominant theoretical framework for human systems. I’m acutely aware that where Law might have once been the discipline that governed us, the flow of capital through international markets now serves that a more important role as the law struggles to keep up and effectively regulate.

I fundamentally believe that the field of economics is at a very interesting junction point, and that consumer awareness (facilitated by digital communication) is forcing business and government to change they way they administer economic policy so that it serves the people as a global collective, rather than a privileged few. I am inspired by a business sector that is focusing on new approaches that hold collective benefit as the highest priority (shared value, Benefit Corporations, completely transparent reporting). I believe that active consumers can have a positive impact, but I also think that consumption isn’t going to solve our biggest problems – this is where strategic, practical and ambitious changes will play a role. I’m frustrated by a global political structure that is completely inadequate when it comes to solving the complex problems we’ve created. I’m intrigued by the fact that what we now call “economic theory” was once considered to have more in common with philosophy, than its current perceived companions “finance” and “business”. I firmly believe that our biggest challenges will be solved by people who understand that creativity and strategic thinking are not opposed but complementary. (And that’s why I followed my Bachelor of Arts (French) with a Commerce Masters, and a Graduate Diploma of Economics, and it’s also why I looked for different kinds of training that don’t play to this false dichotomy with the likes of Centre for Sustainability Leadership Fellowship Program and the RMIT Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program.)

At 28, my long term professional goal is to use a mix of economics, philosophy and social theory to answer questions that are important to all of us, and to do so in a way that engages those who might not typically be interested in the big questions. I’d like to combine my skills in communications, digital and community strategy to bring cross-disciplinary academic research to the masses, and to find creative ways to engage and interact with the public around these big ideas.

For me, the final piece of the puzzle is our ability to take a global perspective. I believe it is all too easy for us to forget that our incredibly fortunate position also comes with the responsibility to improve the lot of those we’ve stepped over to get here. I know that we have much more to learn from the areas of the world who haven’t built their social, political and economic structures on models that have a finite lifespan. I am passionate about economic justice, and I see global equality as the next major civil rights struggle we will face, and I sincerely hope it is one with will win.

I want to combine my progressive views with academic diligence and in a way that is still engaging and palatable to those with no economics education. My professional role models are people like Michael J. Sandel, Jeffrey Sachs, Stephen Fry – people who use a mix of skills and disciplines to engage the public in discussions about big things – the moral failings of markets, the opportunities and limitations of foreign aid, the role and importance of language, respectively.

Creative Role Models

As I continue my search for the perfect work/life balance or whatever it is I'm searching for, I've found myself paying particular attention to a handful of people who set a great example to me for a career/study/work path I'd like to emulate.What I've noticed about each of these people is that they almost make a point of going against the grain. They do what isn't expected, challenge the norm, and seem to enjoy life an awful lot for it. Straying outside the safe way of doing things may seem risky, but the potential reward is so great. I've commented on this before, but I might leave more discussion on that for another post I have brewing...

For now, here's my current list.

attachment-50fc984fe4b0dc522e20ef68

James Franco

Though some discount him as yet another slashie - model/actor/director/etc - I really admire his love for information, creativity and pursuit of projects that aren't necessarily popular, as well as for his passion for education. He might be odd in some ways and he will no doubt continue to have his detractors, but for my mind, he is one of the most interesting personalities in Hollywood. He could have just as easily relied on his good looks like many others, but instead he continues to push the envelope and follows his creative instincts, whether or not they lead him to sound business pursuits or not. I hope I can create a body of work that is as varied as James, and I hope I rack up as many degrees as he has managed to.

attachment-50fc9839e4b0dc522e20ee31

Marieke Hardy

As literature lover, writer, radio and television personality, and creator of her own projects like Women of Letters with writer Micheala McGuire, Marieke's strong opinions, creative drive and likeable nerdiness give me hope that a love of reading might turn out to lead to a viable career path. What I admire in Marieke is that she makes no apologies for being intelligent, opinionated and a little offbeat, and she manages to do it in a way that is mostly entertaining and rarely offensive. She seems to be the kind of person who would be fun to collaborate with - generous, good at thinking out of the box and good for a giggle. She is also a great strong, female role model who embraces personality traites some women seem to shy away from.

attachment-50fc9839e4b0dc522e20ee37

Mirka Mora

A true Melbourne treasure, Mirka feels like the last bastion of a long lost era. An unashamed and unrelenting bohemian, she continues to live life filled with creativity, hedonism and authenticity, well into her eighties. I've come across her several times and it has been such a joy to converse in french with her, and to witness her utter joy and love of life first hand. If nothing else, I hope I continue to live my life with such passion and enthusiasm as I age. It seems to me, she has managed to transpose french life successfully to Melbourne, and I think I'd like to follow her example in that too.

attachment-50fc9839e4b0dc522e20ee3a

Lena Dunham

This young lady is a pretty formidable creative powerhouse at just 26, having written and directed Tiny Furniture two years ago, and written, directed and starred in Girls to great acclaim. It hasn't all be rosy, with Lena copping plenty thanks to the fact that she doesn't filter her version of reality to have it comply with what some may think it should. Plus, she looks vastly different to most of Hollywood, and isn't shy about the fact that she's young, female, opinionated and clearly quite driven. With such an impressive body of work already, I can't help but feel I have a bit of catching up to do.

Zan Rowe

For a long time, I wanted to be the Music Director at Triple J. And great as Richard Kingsmill is, eventually I decided Zan was more awesome, more enthusiastic and with better hair. What I love about Zan is that she seems to walk the fine line between LOVING her job, and still be impossibly cool about having the best job in the world. Plus, she makes no apologies for being intelligent, informed, articulate and female. To me, she's a great antidote to an exhaustingly sceney industry, filled with too-cool kids, without inspiration or aspiration. And happily, she seems to see through those types, in as nice a way as possible.

attachment-5128515ae4b02e5615b47252

Beyonce Knowles

I can't think of a woman more well known, or more in control of her brand and image. Her creative pursuits stretch across film, fashion and digital, and are anchored by her musical output. For me, Beyonce signifies a new breed of feminism - strong and sexy while remaining classy and in control. She's been in the public spotlight for what seems like forever, and has managed to deliver everything she's done to a high level of quality. With a phenomenally influential husband and a new baby, I'm intrigued to see where things will go next.

Do you have career/life/work role models? Who are they? Why do you aspire to be like them?