Jo Siejka Joanna is the CEO of the Youth Network of Tasmania (YNOT). She sits on the boards of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition and Homelessness Australia, and is Chair of the National Youth Coalition for Housing. Having completed the Tasmanian Leaders Program in 2013, we asked her to reflect on the impact  the TLP has had on her so far, and about heroes, superpowers and other Big Things…

What is your primary core value? How does that influence your leadership style?
I consider myself to be a very values driven person, in all that I do. My values are all very connected in the way that I act, work and lead every day. Identifying a primary value is a challenge for me because these values are so interconnected and are all equally central to who I am as a person. I see my values as being knowledge, collaboration, social justice, challenging problems and ensuring that what I do is meaningful.

Tell us about the impact the TLP has had on your life, both personally and professionally?
Through The Tasmanian Leaders Program I gained so much self awareness. One of the big learnings for me, was the realisation that the reason that I have so much passion and enthusiasm for the work that I do, is the result of so many factors aligning, such as my values and interests.

I also learnt to be a lot more strategic in what I choose to say yes to. The TLP gave me a number of great tools and resources, across a wide-range of processes to apply, to help me achieve this.

The diverse range of speakers, presenters and participants throughout the year had the greatest impact on me, and has continued to do so. The program introduced me to many incredible and interesting people and networks that I may not otherwise have been exposed to, which has continued to be of enormous value to me. My Learning Set has also continued to have the most impact on a personal and an ongoing basis as we continue to regularly catch up.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
I’ve experienced quite a lot of illness throughout my life, and this has impacted on my ability to do many of the things that I’ve wanted to do, when I’ve wanted to do them, right from adolescence through to my adulthood. Because of this, I had to become adept at shifting the goal posts in my life, and regularly reassess my definition of success. As horrible an experience as it has been, it has meant that I can be flexible and resilient, and so I wouldn’t change any of these experiences because they’ve made me who I am.

Tell us about your favourite hero (fiction or non-fiction).
One of the aspects that makes my job worthwhile is meeting amazing and inspiring young people and hearing their stories. The resilience of young people who have had challenging experiences, and yet are still able to remain positive about the future, never ceases to amaze me.

If could choose one superpower to help make Tasmania the most prosperous, liveable address in Australia, what power would you choose and how would you use it.
Good communication! There are so many people great people in Tasmania, who have great ideas to share, and who are doing amazing things but this isn’t always the message that we hear. I’d love to be able to transform the way we perceive ourselves as a state and tackle the big socio-cultural issues that hold us back.

What’s your Next Big Thing?
I’m always on the lookout for new opportunities and there are always plenty of them on the horizon! I’m currently studying social impact through the Centre for the Social Impact at Swinburne and I am finding the whole experience really fascinating.

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