Kim-Anh's self learning journey

By Kim-Anh Lê Cao

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Where are the women leaders?

Women represent 45% of the global workforce, but are globally underrepresented in leadership positions, and especially in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM). Yet, women can have a strong influence in decision making when they pursue the opportunity to acquire leadership skills. Women are predisposed to leadership: they are inclusive, inclined to long-term collaborations, and lead with a legacy in mind. Women can make a strong difference for the greater good!

My vision

I have been mentored by inspiring senior researcher women who showed me how I could build my own career. Their mentorship was pivotal in defining the researcher I am today. I aspire to ‘pay it forward’ and become a similar role model for the next generation of budding scientists, and in particular, women who lack mentorship and support to achieve their career goals.

I collaborate with researchers from the biomedical, molecular biology, microbiology and ecology fields. Our studies have strong potential impact on strategic policies and practice in domains ranging from medical decisions and treatment, agriculture, ecology to nutritional recommendations. In the current big data era, the importance of statistics is not yet fully realised and is critically lacking in the educational curriculum. I aspire to train data scientists, through mentoring and teaching, inside and outside the classroom and at all qualification levels, who in turn will influence decision-making for our future.

Homeward bound

I have been selected to join 99 other worthy international women to be part of the Homeward bound program #4. The vision of Homeward Bound is to build a global collaboration of 1,000 women leaders with a background in STEMM over ten years, by providing a year-long professional development program for leadership, visibility and strategy, all culminating in a trip to Antarctica.

Does that give you goosebumps? Yes, me too, and not only because of the cold temperature!

Here is a tremendous and unique opportunity for women to make a difference. In 2026 we will have built a community of 1,000 women around the world with a common intent: We will improve the quality of life on our planet. We will be equipped to lead, influence and contribute to policy and decision-making for our future, in both academia and industry.

But why Antarctica?

Antarctica is a spellbindingly beautiful and largely unseen part of our world. However, its fragile environment is a stark reminder of the importance of developing leadership as it faces our current global sustainability crisis head-on. Antarctica will do more than inspire awe and commitment - it will provide the perfect environment to remind us of why we chose to engage in this immersion program in the first place.

The 21-day expedition to Antarctica represents once in a lifetime experience that will remain within me for the rest of my life. It represents the start of my self-learning journey.

Together, we are stronger

The total cost of the Homeward Bound program, including the voyage is USD$31,000 (AUD$42,000; €27,000). About USD$10,000 are covered through in-kind contributions, and sponsors, but participants still need to cover the remaining USD$21,000 (AUD$25,000, €13,200).

This is where you can help. By donating to my program costs, you are becoming part of my journey.

Thank you for supporting me

Over the the next 12 months, and as part of my gift to you, I will raise awareness about many topics in professional and personal leadership on my blog. Changes in societal and global issues starts with discourse - make sure to engage with me on my blog, as I embark in this incredible self-learning journey.

Spoiler alert: there will be pictures of penguins, polar plunge. Keep a look out for inspiring public events!

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Kim-Anh Lê Cao

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