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Empowering young people

Shadé Zahrai is a Project Manager in Westpac Premium who started at Westpac Group in the Graduate Program. She was a finalist in the 2015 internal Westpac Women of Influence Awards in the Young Leader category. This is her story.

I love children and I always wanted to be a child psychologist. Or a professional finger-painter. Needless to say, neither one happened! Instead I worked in a law firm while studying Psychology and Law part time. While I was a student I spent six months studying on exchange living in Graz, Austria and six months living in the US. I also spent a year volunteering in Haifa, Israel when I was 19.

Significant decision

When it came to making a decision about my future, I found myself looking for a more 'exciting' career path so applied for the Westpac Group Graduate Program. I didn't know at the time but this would become one of my most significant career decisions

Life is full of lessons

Since completing the Graduate program I have worked as a Strategy Analyst for St.George Retail, Executive Assistant to a General Manager, been on a Jawun secondment living with a remote Aboriginal community in Cape York and managed a team of 15 in a regional branch. I have just moved into a new role within Westpac Premium where I am excited to understand a different side to the business and work on some really exciting projects. I am a firm believer that life is but a series of lessons and opportunities for growth. Some great advice I always try to remember is to "Sleep on it, there's always tomorrow" and "When nothing seems to go right, go left".

Giving back

I am passionate about the development and empowerment of young people, particularly young girls. I am in the process of developing a program that equips young women with the tools they need to remain self-confident, steadfast and resilient in light of, and often in spite of, the world that surrounds them. A work in progress but I am very excited about it and plan to deliver female empowerment workshops in schools in lower socio-economic areas. I am also a volunteer and facilitator with CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship Program.

For the past few years I have been actively involved in our internal Youth Network Employee Action Group. From a general member, to Executive Committee Member and establishing strategy, to now being appointed as Deputy Chair - it has been a wonderful developmental opportunity which allows me to also give back and create a more inclusive and diverse workplace for all.

My future

My pledge is to challenge conscious and unconscious biases - both in myself and in others. By welcoming different points of view and always making sure all groups are represented in consultation and discussions we can take a step towards addressing the challenge of keeping these types of bias out of the workplace, and take positive steps towards a more inclusive and diverse environment for all.

If you are interested in joining us as a Graduate visit our Graduate Program (need to include link) page for more detail. Across all of our brands there's a range of roles and exciting opportunities for current employees and recent graduates who are ready to make impact.