Young Professionals in STEMM - Roshni Sharma - Homeward Bound 5

By Roshni Sharma

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What does STEMM have to do with my children's future?

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - STEM. Some people add another M for 'Medicine' too. These five disciplines may sound small, but they represent something huge - the skills that future careers are made of, the new jobs that we cannot conceive of yet, the gateway to a world that we can only dream of. The jobs of the future will have skills that we need to equip our children with now - skills like leadership, visibility, strategy and science. This also means problem-solving, critical thinking, flexibility, data-driven decision making, argumentation and intellectual curiosity, and things like entrepreneurship, collaboration and innovation.

But there’s a problem

In more traditional cultures, these skills are not easily taken up. They can be confronting, and new ways of thinking can be difficult to implement and embrace. This is the case all over the world but is particularly poignant for countries which are feeling the impacts of climate change the most such as Pacific Island nations.

How does that impact you?

In today's multicultural, globally-interconnected world, the chances are high that you know someone whose family is from a Pacific Island nation or is feeling the impacts of climate change such as the increasingly devastating bushfires and floods around the world.

The chances are also high that you have children yourself, or know someone else with a child that you are close to - a neice or nephew, a cousin, a friend.

No matter who we are or where we are from, we are realising that global climatic equilibriums are re-adjusting to new norms, and things are not quite as they once were.

Here’s what I'm doing about it - and why I need your help

I am an Australian of Fiji-Indian heritage, and I am proud of my heritage and proud to be part of multicultural Australia. Yet every day I see in my community friends and family who are losing touch with their cultural heritage, and hence who are losing touch with their roots.

I am proud of my heritage, but it also causes me pain to realise that the climate change impacts I am seeing in Australia - more frequent and devastating bushfires and floods - are being felt in Pacific Islands like Fiji in more devastating ways, with such countries also less able to implement management measures for flooding or to bounce back afterwards. My cultural identity enhances my identity as a multicultural Australian, and also as a global citizen.

As a GIS Specialist, I am an active member of the Australian geospatial industry, which places me in a unique position to be able to enact national-scale change in our industry. I am working hard as part of the organising committee of national and regional conferences such as Locate20 and the South East Asian Survey Congress 2019 to create opportunities for young professionals in the industry to have a voice, to have access to capacity-building opportunities that offer them real leadership opportunities, and that create networks for people that foster collaboration and innovation.

I firmly believe that building STEMM skills and soft skills like problem-solving, career goal setting communication, marketing, leadership and networking and emotional intelligence are the key to young professionals and students being equipped to make the most of their early careers. In this vein, I founded and continue to lead the SSSI National Young Professionals Mentoring Program, which has increased over 300% since it started and now helps bring together almost 300 people for the inter-generational exchange of knowledge, skills and experience in the Australian spatial industry, and even has international participants.

I am also a proud member of Sydney's Fiji-Indian community and have been volunteering my time for a number of years for the administration of various community language schools that teach Hindi. I believe that staying in touch with your mother tongue is important, and once it is gone it is hard to get back.

Here’s how you can help me impact bigger and better change

For me, leaving a legacy for a stronger community is my life's work - and something I am dedicated to building more of. I am just at the beginning of my journey, and there is a lot more that I want to achieve.

After years of hard work for both the scientific and Hindu-speaking communities, I am humbled and honoured to have been selected as one of 80 women internationally to be part of Team Homeward Bound 5.

Homeward Bound is a ground-breaking, global leadership initiative, set against the backdrop of Antarctica, which aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet. It creates and empowers a group of 1000 Women In STEMM leaders over ten years, shifting deep-seated cultural and gender biases in diversity and inclusion in some of the fastest evolving industries.

I will journey to Antarctica in November 2020, after starting my journey of leadership, strategy, visibility and science in November 2019 - find out more here:

I am already excited to be working towards partnerships with the University of Newcastle and a number of corporate and not-for-profit organisations in NSW, Australia with plans to share what I will learn to help create and empower other women leaders in STEMM. In my capacity as Chair of National Young Professionals for the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute of Australia, member of the Organising Committee for the Locate20 conference, I have already begun seriously planning avenues to bring the knowledge I am learning back to the community. I am also exploring opportunities to bring this knowledge back to my homeland, Fiji, to extend this knowledge and empowerment to the people of the Pacific Islands who will be directly and immediately impacted by climate change.

I am only one woman, but I am a woman with a broad and diverse network to create and affect change to - and commitment, enthusiasm and dedication to my thirst to make a difference. I have a proven record of volunteer community service many hours a week for many years.

Join me on this incredible adventure!

I am absolutely thrilled to be part of Team Homeward Bound 5, and to be going on this incredible adventure to Antarctica. This will be the beginning of many years of work to make a difference to the world by helping young professionals in STEMM, and in helping young people of culturally diverse backgrounds to embrace multiculturalism. Both of these areas come together for me in the community response to climate change on various scales, from cities to countries to globally.

But to create this impact, I need your help. The Homeward Bound program costs approximately AU$30,000, and sponsorship will be able to cover half of these costs for me - but that leaves approximately AU$15,000 for me to fundraise for program costs, year-long leadership training, the Antarctica voyage itself, insurance, and equipment. It's a huge responsibility and a huge experience and it's worth the cost.

Your donation won't "just" send me to Antarctica - your donation will help me grow as a human, as a scientist, and as a thought leader through the yearlong training program, and send me to Antarctica for the final 3-week intensive portion onshore and offshore in 2020. But most of all, your donation will help me to enact the learnings that I will gain from the program and be able to do something for the community, to bring back these skills and pass them on to young people, science professionals and to create programs to keep this change passing out into the world in a ripple effect.

This will help our children to get the skills that they need at an early, formative age for career success. I will create and run face to face and online workshops to reach people in all geographies, I will run programs for schools and Universities, and I will engage in mentoring, among many other things.

And here’s some amazing perks for supporting me

I will send regular (fortnightly where possible) updates to all of my supporters on, keeping you up to date with my journey on HB5 - including the highs and lows, the challenges and overcoming them, my voyage to Antarctica, and most importantly, the difference I make to women, students and young professionals.

I also have a range of great perks that you can receive in exchange for your fundraising support - see the panel on the right to find out more!

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Team Members

Roshni Sharma