en-us Inspired by Yarra

Penny Swan


Marketing & Business Manager

"Yarra gave me foundations in leadership... It showed me that I can do anything I want to do."

Penny Swan joined Yarra Valley Grammar at a time when girls were only enrolled in Years 11 and 12. 

“My sister had just finished at Yarra so I came with a sense of excitement – my sister had a great experience and I was looking forward to finishing my final two years of high school at Yarra, too.”

The year before arriving at Yarra, Penny was an exchange student in the USA. Already interested in travelling, at the age of 15, she headed to Tennessee.

“It was the 1980s and there was still a lot of racial tension. It was an eye opener and a transformational experience. I came back with more confidence and an appetite to try new things,” recalls Penny.

Penny threw herself into life at Yarra and enjoyed singing, debating and sport. She was part of the hockey team and the Rock Eisteddfod. 

“My academic education is like my career – I’m a generalist rather than a specialist. I wanted to do it all and I like to give things a go. I’m not scared of failure.”

Penny particularly remembers the encouragement she received from her Year 11 and 12 coordinator, Margaret King.

“She had a profound effect on me for years. Teenage years can be tough and Margaret was a great mentor who had empathy and authenticity.” 

During school, Penny was unsure of her career aspirations and considered becoming a lawyer. But after a gap year and reassessing her plans, Penny discovered marketing and international business.

A keen rally driver in her spare time, Penny has had a successful business career and at one point working for Holden Racing Team as driver manager for Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes.

“My parents were involved in rallying since I was born and I love the rally community, the speed, the strategy and the camaraderie,” says Penny.

Her two years at Yarra made an important impression on Penny and her views on life, and the School motto still holds a place in her heart and mindset, too.

“It reminds us that it’s not just about each of us individually – it’s beyond us. That’s very grounding. I walked out of school with a sense that I could do anything and be anything - and 30 years on, that is still inspiring.”


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