Pursuing MBA Through UN Women Australia Scholarship

Reliable internet wasn’t something Katherine Passmore could count on working in a job that had her criss-crossing 14 different countries in the Pacific.

It made any form of online post-graduate study near impossible.

That was until the pandemic hit and grounded international travel.

Katherine suddenly had an opportunity, and a stable internet connection in Sydney, to begin studying for an MBA.

She successfully applied for the UN Women Australia MBA Scholarship at the University of Sydney last year.

“The silver lining of COVID-19 was that normally I’d be travelling around the Pacific once or twice a month,” Katherine said.

“With international travel coming to a halt, I finally had the time to look at postgraduate study.

“I’d considered it a few times but access to a stable internet connection made the logistics of online study difficult.

“While there’ve been many downsides to the pandemic, it’s also opened up an opportunity for me to finally study again.”

After graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics ten years ago, Katherine went on to work in private sector development as a consultant for the United Nations, Asian Development Bank and the Bank of Papua New Guinea.

Katherine had moved from Sydney to Timor-Leste and then Solomon Islands.

“My work is all about poverty reduction and gender equality,” she said.

“Supporting women-owned businesses enables women to improve their livelihoods and that of their family and broader community. There’s a real entrepreneurial spirit among people in Pacific nations,” Katherine reflected.

She currently helps banks cater to the needs of women through financial innovation. After one weekend in the Business School’s MBA program, Katherine said she’s already thinking about leadership through a different lens.

“When you spend all of your working life with the same people doing the same thing, which happens in many industries, you can get stuck in a certain mindset,” she said.

“I’m learning more about the type of leader I want to be, and how to think differently about solving problems so that I can create meaningful and sustainable impacts for the people I work with.

“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.”

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