Bridging the gap between corporates and Indigenous organisations with new Leaders Scholarship

The recipient of the Business School’s inaugural Indigenous Leaders MBA Scholarship has been praised for her work with small Indigenous organisations by the scholarship’s founder and CEO of Food Ladder, Kelly McJannett.

Amara Barnes
Amara Barnes

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the Indigenous Leaders Scholarship was awarded to Amara Barnes, a Wiradjuri woman who has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to enhance education and employment outcomes and leadership opportunities through Indigenous internship programs and grassroots mentoring.

“I was most impressed with Amara’s clear vision for how she is bridging the gap between corporate entities and small Indigenous organisations that are working at a community level to drive social outcomes,” said Ms McJannett.

“Too often the impact of small grass-root initiatives are overshadowed by large not-for-profit organisations. Amara’s rationale is truly inspiring: these small organisations make the most impact and need greater profile and recognition.”

The Indigenous Leaders Scholarship covers part-time MBA tuition for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander candidate who has demonstrated leadership skills and personal achievements working with Indigenous communities.

“The support of this scholarship is invaluable to me, as commencing an MBA with the University of Sydney is not an opportunity that I would have otherwise been able to pursue,” said Ms Barnes.

“Studying an MBA means I have an opportunity to challenge myself intellectually and build skills that will help me to achieve positive outcomes through the work that I do.”

Ms Barnes hopes the MBA will allow her to build her capacity to drive social impact through business and enhance her leadership skills.

“Having won a scholarship personally, I can appreciate the huge opportunity it affords and the doors that it opens for your future,” said Ms McJannett, who was awarded the Business School’s 2016 David Anstice MBA Scholarship for her work in international food sustainability within disadvantaged communities in Australia and abroad.

“At Food Ladder we wanted to be able to do the same for an Indigenous future leader to support them reach a position of authority where they will make decisions on the issues that affect their people and first Australians,” said Ms McJannett. “Strong indigenous leadership in the board rooms of corporate Australia and policy development in Government is essential.”

Director of the MBA program, Professor Guy Ford, congratulated Ms Barnes on the award.

“We are thrilled to welcome such a promising leader to this cohort,” said Professor Ford. “We trust that the MBA will assist Ms Barnes to enhance the impressive work she has already accomplished with Indigenous communities.”

The Business School’s part-time MBA was the nation’s number one program in 2017, according to the biennial MBA ranking published by the Australian Financial Review’s highly respected BOSS magazine.

“Universities have traditionally been a place of exclusion and privilege,” said Ms Barnes. “To invest in, and celebrate Indigenous leaders at universities, is to redefine the space which higher education occupies for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

“As a female Indigenous leader with excellent experience in the development of Reconciliation Action Plans and reach into a broad range of diverse stakeholder groups, I believe Amara will have an even greater capacity in her work with Indigenous organisations as a result of the opportunities of Business School’s MBA,” Ms McJannett concluded.