Last month, in a quiet little town a few hours north of Wellington, a conference of a different sort took place. The Women Who Get Shit Done (WWGSD) un-conference brought together a group of business-driven and vivacious women from a diverse range of backgrounds to learn, share and network. We got behind the initiative by offering scholarships to help individuals attend the event, and recently caught up with Shannon, one of the scholarship recipients, to talk about her experience. Here’s what she had to say:

What’s your field of work?
I work with young people, my various Marae committees and in community development and governance. Currently I’m the Youth Engagement Advisor for the Waikato District Council.

What motivated you to get into this particular field of work?
I was driven by an observation of real inequality in my community and wondering why it exists. That experience built in me a true passion for helping people and trying to make a difference in my own backyard.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?
I enjoy seeing the impact of the work I do on a daily basis and getting to create lasting connections with people in my communities.

What are some of the challenges you have faced getting your work off the ground?
I’m challenged by my own lack of knowledge at times, not knowing who to turn to when I get stuck. I’m challenged by not understanding systems and processes that would make my work easier. I’m also challenged by my own feelings of insufficiency; not doing enough or being enough at the end of the day.

Who inspires you? Do you have a mentor?
The women in my life, my grandmothers and my mothers inspire me. I have three strong grandmothers – One Maori, one Pakeha and one Irish. Each are from different cultures, advocating for change and equality in very different ways.  My two Mums have been extremely influential in my growth as a strong woman too, although one died when I was young.  

What is the most valuable thing you took away from the un-conference? How will you apply that to your work going forward?
The most valuable thing I took away from the conference was acceptance and respect for myself. I am currently channeling this newfound mindset to be confident that the work I produce IS enough, without asking a whole lot of people for acceptance or permission.

Would you recommend the un-conference to others and why?
I would recommend the conference to others. I felt that the Women who get Shit Done un-conference was a vehicle for connection, training and strength with which to build the women in the group.

Were there any particular individuals at the un-conference that inspired you?
Yes there were, but there are so many to name! Amber, our un-conference co-ordinator deserves a special mention.

What is one piece of tech you can’t live without?
My phone 🙂

Anything else to add?
Thank you. Without your support it wouldn’t have happened. Thank you 🙂

Stay tuned to hear from more women about their work and what they took away from WWGSD.

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