Development Assistance Manager
Kristen arrived at Yarra in Year 11 at a time when girls were only enrolled in Years 11 and 12. She had been at an all girls’ school since Prep so says her first day at Yarra was a culture shock.
“I’ll never forget the first assembly in the old basketball stadium. We walked in and all the boys’ eyes were on us. But I never felt unwelcome,” she says.
Kristen got involved in as many activities and interests as she could at school – from Drama and Debating to Music, Psychology and English Literature.
“I loved debating. It gives you confidence to speak in front of people, helps you develop critical thinking and teaches you to think on your feet,” says Kristen.
Kristen became School Captain, so her public speaking skills came in handy. The role also taught her some valuable lessons about leadership.
“To me, good leadership is not about you as the leader, it’s bringing the best out of a team. You set targets and a strategy but it’s the team’s journey to achieving those things that’s important,” she says.
“Leadership is like being a conductor – you have various parts of a business and they need to sing to the same tune.”
Kristen did an Arts degree and then travelled while she worked out her future career path. Her altruistic nature saw her lean towards international development work and she initially joined the International Development Division of an engineering company.
She now works with a business working on multi-million dollar projects in the Indo-Pacific region.
“International development tries to make the world a better place for as many people as possible. We might work on a large infrastructure project to improve water supply and sanitation, or improve roads to provide better access to education or healthcare facilities.
“People still have poor or no sanitation so it’s important that the work continues, even in this COVID world. It’s a privilege to make a small difference in people’s lives.”
Kristen says her time at Yarra gave her so many opportunities to go out into the world.
“At Yarra, you could try things. It was all there for you and it was up to you to have a go. That mindset gives you quiet confidence to try things once you leave school. Yarra gave me confidence to lead a productive life and to chase dreams.”