The University of Melbourne was well represented with four graduates attending the 2017 International Women’s Forum and Ernst & Young Women Athletes Business Network (IWF-EY WABN) in Houston, USA.
The IWF-EY WABN is a global program aimed at elite female athletes transitioning into the next phase of life. Of the 24 successful international applicants for 2017, remarkably, four are graduate student-athletes from the University of Melbourne and its Elite Athlete Program:
· Kim Brennan (Arts/Law) – Olympic Rowing gold, silver and bronze medallist
· Victoria Brown (Planning & Design/Property & Construction) – Olympic Water Polo bronze medallist
· Michelle Phillips (Arts/Engineering) – World Champion Ultimate Frisbee representative and AFLW player
· Alice McNamara (Commerce/Science/Medicine) Two-time World Rowing champion and international Stair Climbing champion
The scholarship is a year in duration and includes a paired mentor program with an IWF member, a female leader in their field. The scholarship enabled athletes to attend the Deedee Corradini Leadership Roundtable, designed around identifying and developing skills and strengths, as well as attend the IWF conference. The 2017 roundtable and conference in Houston, USA brought together transitioning athletes from nine countries.
Dr Alice McNamara said she felt privileged to be included in the global group of women athletes, especially with four sharing a Melbourne connection.
"I'm proud there are four of us here! I think it's testimony to the people at the University of Melbourne who facilitated my ability to study and compete at the highest level. If I think about the vast number of female athletes around the globe, I feel fortunate to have been in the position for balance; to study, obtain the best training and critical thinking to carry on with a with a balanced and fulfilling career.
“I’ve been paired with a senior female surgeon as my mentor who has worked with me all year. We talk around navigating practical work issues, areas for growth, and best of all she provides experienced perspective on my first year of working” said Dr McNamara.
The Houston experience was no doubt an inspiring experience for all participants.
“My highlights were sharing journeys - sport and beyond - with the other athletes and also working through the EY run program facilitated by leading IWF members. The mentors were so accessible and engaging, and so willing to help us grow and helped piece together some of the strengths we've acquired over both sport and academia. Leaders included business members of the c-suite, partners, sports journalists, astronauts. There was a mutual respect amongst all participants and an eagerness to absorb all that we could.
“I'm excited for next year’s participants and hope we can promote some more of our local female student-athletes", added Dr McNamara.
Dr Alice McNamara (right) and Victoria Brown (far right) with other members of the forum.