International Woman’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women!

Today, we continue to celebrate the amazing wahine who contribute to the leadership & governance at HERA!

Yvonne Chan is on our HERA Executive Board and another wahine toa (strong woman) to look up to!  Continuing her career, whilst insuring her whanau are cared for, is a top priority in her books.

This is certainly something that we support and admire Yvonne for doing, as work-life-balance is a core value at HERA which asks our team to be focused on total wellbeing and safety within the work we do.

Check out her quick International Woman’s Day interview below! #IWD22 #breakthebias

Director, External Engagement Office Faculty of Design + Creative Technologies, AUT, Yvonne Chan

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women’s Day?

A great excuse for like-minded women to get together for a chat and cup of tea!

Besides the lame comment, I do think it is important that we celebrate women’s achievement, discuss social and political challenges to find ways where we can support other women, so they have fair and equal opportunities to be the best they can be.  It’s important to also have men involved in the activities of the day, as the progression of women cannot be achieved without their support too.


Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?

Having a healthy work-life balance has been important to me to ensure I can maintain a happy family life alongside a successful and fulfilling career.  Due to this personal commitment, and although I have a very strong work ethic, it is not enough to progress up the academic scale, as I need to fulfil research expectations for further promotion.

For academics in leadership roles or with an additional portfolio, research activities would also need to take place in the evenings, weekends, etc, which I believe would affect my home life and is not practising a healthy work-balance.  This would also be a similar challenge for my male colleagues, yet I believe that in general women do mentally feel the burden of being the primary carer and the responsibilities of home life (i.e. daily do’s, caring for children). I have personally accepted and embraced this.

My husband is very supportive of my career and is actively engaged with our home life, including taking care of our children, but as a mother and wife I am always considering what is best for my family. So, for now I have accepted to hold off on the academic promotion and to do the best I can for my organisation and family. As a leader and peer supporter, I strive to do what I can to drive positive change and breaking barriers with the intention to make it easier for other women.


What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

Criticism is a hidden compliment.


How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their career?

Women encouraging other women and not seeing them as a threat.  Women understanding (and organisations supporting) that it is OK to put family first, especially when needed.  Believe you can do it and that being a woman is an advantage.


What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

Try and connect with your inner self and understand what you would like to achieve in life and what would be personally fulfilling. Don’t compromise your dreams and goals, but reflect on these regularly as they do change over time.


Is there anyone that inspires you in your career?

Women who juggle numerous responsibilities, volunteer their time for social impact, as well as raising a family.


Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?

In general, we (the human race) need to get along with each other regardless of our ethnic/culture, socio-economic, gender and sexuality, etc. Globally there are numerous conflicts with so many challenging factors that may not get resolved even in our lifetime. However, small steps towards the bigger picture are essential, hence diversity in the workplace is crucial as this will lead to cultural competence, understanding and hopefully equality.  I believe if we work and support each other harmoniously, we will thrive together faster and effectively for the greater good of society and our planet.


If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Princess Diana – although she had her personal challenges, she strived on with her social work in a way that captured the hearts of so many people.

Cleopatra – a shrewd and powerful leader who made significant political changes.

Wonder Woman – a compassionate warrior, but an ambassador to bring world peace.


Arohanui Yvonne!