Culturally diverse trio recognised in Women in Leadership scholarships


Women on Boards has recognised the work of a doctor, creative strategist and finance specialist in awarding cultural diversity scholarships to its 2021 Women in Leadership Program.


Sydney-based Investment Operations Director, Nandita Alvarez, Perth registrar Dr Tanni Chowdhury and Creative Strategist Rani Pramesti, from Victoria, have all been awarded scholarships for the nine-week leadership program, which kicked off on 7 October.

"In assessing the applicants for our cultural diversity scholarships, we were looking for women who could clearly articulate how they would benefit from the WIL program,"said Women on Boards Executive Director, Claire Braund.

"Nandita, Rani and Tanni bring a wide range of skills and experience in their chosen fields. They are outstanding candidates for our inaugural cultural diversity scholarships for the Women in Leadership program."

Nandita Alvarez

A mission to drive the agenda of cultural diversity in boardrooms across Australia was one of main reasons Investment Operations Director Nandita Alvarez applied for the scholarship.

“The statistics reveal severe underrepresentation of culturally diverse women in leadership. There is a lot of work needed to shape common public biases to recognise the diverse faces of women in leadership,” said Indian-born Nandita.

“Being a culturally diverse woman myself, I want to use my story and influence to change the playing field for the generations of women who will come after me.”

She said her reasons for wanting to take part in the Women in Leadership program are two-fold. “Firstly, I want to build my network and get to know other ambitious women with whom I can share my leadership journey. Secondly, I want to understand what is required to embark on a board career.”

Nandita described the scholarship as a “commendable step towards addressing the cultural imbalance that prevents culturally diverse women from attaining senior leadership roles”.

“I am currently self-funding an MBA and as such, I would not have been able to participate in the program without this scholarship. It has given me a pathway to access a Board career, something I have always wanted to do but didn’t know how to.”

Rani Pramesti

Peranakan Hokkien-Javanese, or Chinese-Indonesian, Rani Pramesti migrated to Australia following racial and gender-based violence towards people of their ethnic background in Indonesia. 

Now based in Victoria, last year Rani led an initiative aimed at diversifying the next generation of independent performing arts producers with the Victorian Independent Producers Initiative (VIPI) at Theatre Network Australia.

Rani decided to take part in the Women in Leadership program to build on their work producing programs building the next generation of creative leaders.  

“I was drawn to the ‘critical career thinking’ frameworks and skills that we'll be developing in ‘managing up’, including boards and people in senior positions.”

While Rani has had board experience with youth theatre company Western Edge Youth Arts they are keen to keep building on these experiences and to continue to upskill and is looking forward to having access to a community of women “to thrash out ideas, and dreams, with”. 

“I'm excited about how this will expand my professional thinking and networks.” 

Curious about moving into senior executive roles, Rani also wants more clarity around career aspirations, and values underpinning these.

Given how COVID has only exacerbated Australia's gender pay gap, I think prioritizing my financial well-being as a woman of colour is a matter of priority and economic justice.”

Rani is currently the Creative Strategist for Creatives of Colour - a research and design driven platform that exists to uplift First Nations, Black and People of Colour creatives. They are also the Senior Project Officer for the National Education Toolkit for Female Genital Mutilation / Circumcision Awareness (NETFA) at the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH).

Rani comes from a long line of women change makers, including her mother Dinny Jusuf, who served as the Secretary General of the Indonesian National Commission on Violence Against Women. 

Dr Tanni Chowdhury

Bangladeshi-born psychiatry registrar Dr Tanni Chowdhury hopes taking part in the Women in Leadership program will help establish her career as a mental healthcare leader helping vulnerable migrants and multicultural women.

“My principal role for undertaking this program is to learn more about the skills and expertise needed as a healthcare leader,” said Tanni, an international medical graduate currently working as a psychiatry registra in WA.

She also hopes to build her confidence and work on becoming an effective board member.

“I applied to participate in this extraordinary WOB course to learn more about the leadership skills/ strategic planning, gain confidence and build networks with an aim to participate in more leadership roles including board activities in future. I am thankful to WOB team for giving me this wonderful opportunity. It has inspired me to learn more and work harder.”

Tanni said after completing the program she hopes to use her experience in clinical leadership roles as well as in non-profit board positions with a focus on mental health in multicultural community members.

“As a woman of colour, I am extremely fortunate to become a citizen of this country where equal opportunities are available. Personally I feel we definitely need more culturally diverse women in health leadership roles including in mental health sectors to be able to serve our community effectively. We need real representation and participation of multicultural female leaders to be able to build a stronger community together.”

You can find out more about WOB's Women in Leadership program HERE or watch this short video.

Want to find out more about WOB's Cultural Diversity Committee? Click HERE


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