The qualities of Professor Lesley Chenoweth AO are well known — leadership, inspiration, passion, humility.
Griffith University’s Pro Vice Chancellor and Head of Logan campus is also influential … and that’s official.
Two days ago Professor Chenoweth opened an email and the words “100 Women of Influence Awards” stared back at her.
It was a surprise to learn that she had been nominated for the Awards, which were announced today (24 September), and the honour is still sinking in.
“This is extraordinary really, I guess it is a reflection of what I have done in my career, but it’s made me stop and think about what we really mean by influence,” she said.
“I’m not a CEO of a large corporation. I have been fortunate that my role at Griffith has not only enabled me to use my skills, but also to work with an amazing community, different levels of government, community organisations and schools.
“It’s about being in a position where your job is to engage.
“We have been able to achieve quite amazing things, but I was not alone; we have achieved this together.”
Professor Chenoweth was today listed among the likes of McGrath Foundation CEO Petra Buchanan, former Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia Pip Marlow, Australian Army pilot Captain Jennifer Roberts, and publisher Louise Adler in The Australian Financial Reviewand Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2015. Earlier this year she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
With a long and distinguished career in higher education, particularly in the area of social work, Professor Chenoweth has been a leading supporter of people living with disabilities. Based at the Logan campus, her work involves engaging with local government, community organisations, schools, sporting groups and the whole community to enable more people to achieve.
“Education is the most important investment of any society,” she said.
“This is so important from early years right through to attending university. And it is this kind of long term investment that makes a real difference to whole communities.”
For women wanting to following in Professor Chenoweth’s footsteps, her advice is to “stop being so hard on yourself”.
“I’m a woman in my 60s and I think a lot of women feel a lot of pressure to achieve so much by the time they are in their 40s,” she said.
“For me, I would never have thought that when I was 40 that this is what I would be doing today.
“We need to take a longer term view on our careers and just stop being so hard on ourselves. I know that is difficult in many workplaces, but your babies will eventually sleep through the night, kids will leave home; there will be more time and all those things you juggle will change. It’s important to know that you can be an influence all your life.”