March 8 is International Women’s Day, where we celebrate women across the globe and challenge gender bias and inequality.

Our strength at ClimateWorks is our diversity of experience. With an all-women executive team, and staff across our programs coming from diverse backgrounds, we challenge what a research and analysis-based think tank looks like. Women at ClimateWorks are driving climate action. This International Women’s Day we wanted to introduce you to just a few of them.

Tam Pham
International Project Officer

Tam Pham

Tell us a bit about how you came to your current role.

My background is in international business management, with an interest in corporate social responsibility. Back in 2016, I was working on a corporate social responsibility trip helping communities in central Vietnam build clean water systems, supporting a social enterprise run by victims of Agent Orange (a chemical used by the US Military during the Vietnam War). The experience made me realise that sustainability means so much more than corporate social responsibility. So I decided to explore more by pursuing a Masters of Environment and Sustainability Management at Monash University; to understand how corporates, governments and other civil society actors can contribute to addressing sustainability issues. During my study, I grew a great interest in climate change because it is the most significant interconnected sustainability risk for humanity, and requires new holistic and systematic approaches. It is also fascinating because it unfolds so many great innovations and opportunities. But there is a huge gap in bridging existing knowledge and research to policymakers in governments, business and society. That is why I took part in an internship with ClimateWorks Australia, leading to my current role as a Project Officer in the International and Country Context Team.

What drives your work?

I’m driven by my passion for sustainable development, and forward-looking innovative ideas to solve sustainability issues. I’m motivated to learn new ways of thinking and challenge myself outside of my comfort zone.

One of my mentors told me ‘always keep a thirst for knowledge’. This advice has been a reminder for me to be humble and build a growth mindset. I love connecting the dots and believe that everyone has a role to play in making the world a better place.

Who has inspired you to get to where you are?

I am very lucky that I have met and worked with so many inspiring people. My greatest inspiration is my mother. She faced a lot of adversity in her life, having to stop her education from grade four to take care of her younger brothers and sisters, and working so hard to provide for our family. She never loses her enthusiasm for life. She made sure her children received the best education, and always pushed us to learn and be a better version of ourselves. What I really admire is her wisdom, her determination and an ability to adapt quickly to changing conditions. Another woman who inspires me is Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her work for gender equality and women’s rights.

What change do you hope to see for gender equality in the next decade?

I hope that in the next decade gender equality is not just an issue for women, but society’s issue that everyone needs to work on. I hope to see more women in the STEM and male-dominated sectors, and to see them in top leadership positions. I especially hope women and girls in developing countries are provided equal rights and opportunities. 

Claire Connell
Collaboration and Facilitation Specialist

Claire Connell

Tell us a bit about how you came to your current role.

My current role developed quite intuitively through having the opportunity to use my skills across different programs at ClimateWorks. After participating in the Centre for Sustainability Leadership Future Makers Fellowship, I grew as a facilitator and designer and I was supported to seek out programs at the organisation where I felt I could help. Assisting the Land Use Futures team on their 2019 Summit was the first big example of this. My skills developed, I got clearer on where I could help and ClimateWorks saw the value as well. So we created a new role which highlighted that and could support the strategic direction of the organisation.

What drives your work?

I’m driven by a deep love of nature and a desire for a more sustainable future where people and the planet thrive.

I’m deeply curious about humans, and am currently enjoying exploring how we as individuals can be empowered to play a role in the systems transformation that’s required. What are the experiences we go through that open up those possibilities, that foster the courage we’ll need? 

What change do you hope to see for gender equality in the next decade?

I hope to see more women leaders getting the reverence and power they deserve. I think it is only via a deeper, more authentic view of leadership that we can create a truly sustainable future. And I know women will be and already are key to unlocking this. 

Haley Lambert
Project Manager

Haley Lambert

Tell us a bit about how you came to your current role.

I studied a Master of Environment at Melbourne Uni after doing a zoology degree. So I’m passionate about sustainability, and have also always been especially interested in nature and environmental science. After studying, I was working in sustainability at the City of Melbourne and an opportunity came up at ClimateWorks that turned out to be perfect. I work in the Land Use Futures program at ClimateWorks, which combines my love of the environmental sciences with my passion for tackling climate change. 

What drives your work?

I’m obsessed with food, and food is something that is relevant to everybody on the planet – it’s part of our cultures, our daily routines, and our biological needs. The choices we make about what we eat and how it was produced have a very real impact on the land. There’s already so much great work being done all over Australia to make sure we’re creating a sustainable, zero emissions future for ourselves; a future where we protect and restore natural environments while continuing to grow enough high quality food to feed our population, both within Australia and overseas. I’m really inspired by this work and see great potential for the future – and this is what drives my work every day. 

Who has inspired you to get to where you are?

There are so many great role models that I’ve been fortunate to learn from during my studies and my work! From lecturers who are tirelessly working to ensure their research creates direct and positive change in the world, to former and current colleagues who are leading the way with their constant drive to create a more sustainable and equitable Australia.

The women who have inspired me to get me where I am today are all people who are focused on making a positive impact on the planet, and supporting other women to do the same.

What change do you hope to see for gender equality in the next decade?

More opportunities for female scientists to be leaders in senior, influential positions across academia, industry and government.

Amrit Bhabra
Senior Designer

Amrit Bhabra

Tell us a bit about how you came to your current role.

I was freelancing around Melbourne at the time, but unhappy with the sporadic and often dry work that was available. My brother sent me the role at ClimateWorks, and it was a go from there. I remember leaving the interview and thinking, “I really want to work with these people”. I had no reservations. 

What drives your work?

I’m a big believer in the power of the thinking process behind design and visual communication. The design process has such enormous potential to really diagnose and analyse a problem, and design effective, grounded solutions.

It’s such an incredible moment when that ‘aha!’ idea takes shape, and you start to realise that it could actually solve the problem! It’s great when that happens on an individual level, but it’s just the best feeling when it happens collectively in a team or organisation, and it’s something I feel more and more people and institutions are beginning to learn about and adopt.

This definitely drives me to continue to learn more and develop my skills as a designer, and contribute that knowledge to the work ClimateWorks is doing. 

Who has inspired you to get to where you are?

One group of people that inspire me is the mentors I’ve had the good fortune of meeting along the way, from loved ones to teachers and tutors, to bosses and colleagues. They’re those people you meet in life, who see something in you, that you may not have seen in yourself just yet, or they’ve inspired you by their own example. My parents are good examples; they always encouraged me to do what I really wanted to do, rather than encouraging me to do what I thought I was supposed to do. They still have no idea what I actually do, and they’ll continue to always politely nod their head when I try to explain it to them, but they keep cheering me on as loud as ever. And my best friend of course, she’s been my biggest fan and helped me get back on my feet more than once, whilst kicking her own goals time and time again. 

What change do you hope to see for gender equality in the next decade?

I hope that gender equality will become the standard or norm more and more across all cultures, communities and industries globally over the next decade. I have hope. 

Wei Sue
System Lead – Sustainable Corporates

Wei Sue

Tell us a bit about how you came to your current role.

I spent a couple of years fresh out of uni in a sustainability consultancy. The work was interesting but too broad – it focused on all aspects of sustainability which meant the impact of the work wasn’t always clear. When the opportunity for an analyst role came up at ClimateWorks, I took the opportunity to focus on climate change. I’ve always had a passion for the natural environment and believe that technology, when put to good use, can provide solutions. ClimateWorks presented the perfect role for me. As an analyst, the role presented the perfect opportunity to put my skills towards these areas of interest. I enjoyed this so much, I grew with the team since 2012!

What drives your work?

Knowing that my skills and energy are being put towards conserving the natural environment that I have enjoyed so much (scuba diving, hiking etc).

Knowing that there are new, exciting technologies that can help solve humanity’s biggest challenge. Knowing that I work with a team of like-minded individuals, equally motivated to make this change happen. 

What change do you hope to see for gender equality in the next decade?

That quotas for gender representation – in boards and senior management in some countries, in education in other countries – are no longer a necessary measure.

I believe it’s needed in the short term but in the long term, true success would be when quotas are no longer needed, that genders are represented appropriately based on merit, abilities and diversity in perspectives.