In this alumni spotlight: “Five years on - where are they now?”, we have the pleasure of speaking with 2019 Young Women to Watch in International Affairs Finalist and current Head of Strategy and Analytics at Save the Children Australia Sashenka Worsman about her impressive career in international development.
Sashenka is an experienced for purpose leader and strategist. Currently the Head of Strategy and Analytics at Save the Children Australia, she prides herself on bringing people together behind a shared ambition, developing strategies for impact and simplifying complexity.
Sashenka is the former CEO of Oaktree, Board Director for the Australian Council for International Development and National Director for VGen World Vision.
Sashenka grew up in Sri Lanka where a deep passion for seeing a world where all people can thrive was instilled. She is a firm believer that diverse, dynamic and committed people need to come together to solve complex problems, so the sum of our parts is greater than what we could ever achieve alone.
You are currently working as the Head of Strategy and Analytics at Save the Children Australia. What are your day-to-day responsibilities, and what has been your proudest achievement in this role so far?
The best part of this role is that everyday is different. Whether it is working to better understand our collective impact as an organisation, set goals for progress, develop processes that allow us to work at our optimum or create policies that guide how we work.
I am most proud of being able to bring groups of diverse people together to solve complex problems for the organisation and children. People are fundamentally different from each other, being able to respect and appreciate what makes us unique can lead to better outcomes. This isn’t always easy, and in those moments where we bring out the best in each other, that’s where I find greatest pride.
What experiences or moments helped you identify your passion in international development, and how did you pursue it?
Being a committed volunteer to causes I believe in has been one of the best ways to contribute, learn, develop skills and identify how best to direct my skills and energy. Being able to recognise the intersection between my skills, and the needs of the world has helped me discover my purpose (and this continues to evolve as I and this world evolve). Ultimately, it is in those moments of frustration at injustices before me, and deciding not to simply witness, but act that has been deeply empowering.
Looking back at your recognition as one of the Young Women to Watch in International Affairs in 2019, how has it influenced your professional journey and personal growth over the past five years?
I think we all live with some sort of imposter syndrome… I am no stranger to that feeling! This recognition and nomination by my peers, amongst other things, has helped ground a sense of confidence and belief in who I am and my contribution to the sector.
What advice would you offer to women who are considering nominating themselves for the Young Women to Watch list?
Go for it! It’s not just about an accolade. Everyone has a story to tell, share yours and it might inspire others.
And don’t hesitate to nominate someone else too! We need to lift each other up as often as we can.
Foreign aid and development remains a male-dominated field. What strategies have you employed to navigate it, and what advice would you offer to young women aspiring to pursue careers in this field?
If you can’t see it, be it. Step up where you see opportunities, ask for help and open you mind and heart to learning. Most importantly, don’t change yourself to “fit in” - your diversity, individuality and perspective is exactly what will add value in this field.
Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations? What impact do you hope to make in the coming years?
I hope to live a life where I continue to make a positive contribution to communities, while staying true to myself. It might seem unconventional, but I have never been one to set specific long-term goals - primarily because I believe that if you keep an open mind, you never know where life might lead you. Our world is changing at an incredibly fast pace - technology, innovation, socio-political environments won’t be the same as they are today, and I am looking forward to growing and pivoting to where my skills and I are most needed.
Nominations for the 2024 Young Women to Watch List are now open!
Nominate (or self-nominate!) an outstanding woman before midnight on January 31st 2024.