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Be what you can see - Olivia Doherty

As part of pledging MADI to #100daysforchange by promoting women in non-traditional work roles, we’ll be championing women who are breaking down stereotypical barriers, leading the workforce and being agents for change.

Meet Olivia Doherty!

Olivia is currently the Director of Sport at Melbourne High School, Manager of the Australian Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball Teams and was recently selected by the Australian Olympic Committee as Sport Liaison Coordinator at the Youth Olympic Games. Phew!

Olivia is engaging, disciplined and loves a challenge! She took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions around her career and diversity so that the next generation can “be what they can see”.

How did you get to where you are today?

After juggling a decade as a self-funded athlete and working as a Nutritionist and Exercise Specialist, I returned to University to complete a Masters in Teaching. Becoming a teacher was no massive feat but graduating as Valedictorian the University of Melbourne was a result of the work ethic I developed as an athlete (and modelling my parents). In my first year of teaching I was promoted to a Lead Teacher role and I have been in this role for seven years. Additionally, I am the manager of the Australian men's and women's beach handball teams and more recently I was appointed by the Australian Olympic Committee as Sport Liaison Coordinator for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games. In 2019 I am returning to university to complete an Executive MBA. I believe I am where I am today because I have always followed my passions and interests, I don't take shortcuts in my work, I will always strive to do my best work - whatever the work may be. Traits developed through sport and modelling my parents incredible work ethic.

What would you suggest to other women who want to follow in your footsteps?

A career in education doesn't often appeal to the masses so a message to any woman who wants to listen... The message my mother instilled in me - "Olivia, you get out exactly what you put in". I therefore have an unwavering belief that if you do your best work, eventually you will reap the rewards. In times of doubt, this is a comforting thought. 

Does your organisation do anything to promote diversity?

I work in education, more specifically a select-entry academic boys’ school. I am fortunate in that I work under a leader who is passionate about diversity and inclusion. Over the past decade he has worked hard to increase female representation on staff and in leadership roles. We have a student-led group for LGBTI students and friends. I was part of a team who developed an 'Understanding and Appreciating Diversity' unit for junior Health Education which is a compulsory subject. We have regular guest speakers from diverse backgrounds (ethnicity, sexuality, cultures, professions) who engage our students in a diverse range of topics. There is an obvious climate of acceptance experienced throughout all layers of the school. Racism, homophobia, misogyny or any form of discrimination is simply not accepted, and we now even witness students challenging their peers if they are out of line. 

What, if any, diversity challenges have you encountered in your career?

I haven't encountered too many diversity challenges in my work but more so in my personal life. As a woman who is happily married to another woman - I experienced a decade of diversity challenges before I arrived at this happy place. As an 80's baby and a child of the 90's I witnessed (hopefully) the tail end of discrimination toward same-sex attracted people - enough however, to grow up believing that a relationship with another woman was wrong. Much of my 20's were wasted on anxieties about my identity - a decade of wasted potential. None the less, my 30's have been incredible. I met and married a remarkably intelligent and talented woman and together we are building a dream and making up for what we may have missed as a 20-something. 

Olivia is certainly a powerhouse and an inspiration to boot! You can connect with Olivia on LinkedIn here and continue to follow her amazing journey.

Thanks Liv xx

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