Their Stories

Q&A with Jen Wressell

7 March 2018

Jen Wressell,  graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) Course 22, answers a few questions in celebration of International Women’s Day (Thursday 8 March 2018)

Tell us about you and how you got to where you are today?

Over the last 20 years I have had life experiences that I would never have imagined as an 18 year old me.  I have worked as a health manager in remote parts of Australia, being blessed with a peek into some of the oldest cultures in the World and experiencing generosity of spirit, incredible history and connection to country.

I have worked as an Expedition Leader and lived in the frozen isolation of Antarctica for 10 months, watching Emperor penguins watch, listened to glaciers crack and learning about resilience.  I rode a pushbike through a sand storm when I worked as a Supervisor in Saudi Arabia for 18 months, an illegal act – the bike riding not getting caught in a sand storm!!

As a student I have waited expectantly for the final marks of the semester.  As a nurse I have held the hands of people as they have died.  As a leader I have sometimes made decisions and crossed my fingers.  As a sibling I have experienced the anxiety of my sister being rushed away from me for an emergency caesarean and the joy of holding my new nephew safe straight after.

Currently I am a researcher and soon to be Phd candidate, exploring the topic of workplace violence and bullying.  When I can get away for a few weeks I work as a remote area nurse in Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory.

I am a Director of my own company sharing lessons in resilience, capacity building and how to combat bullying and workplace violence.  I am working with a National charity, developing peer mentoring programs for people with cardiac conditions.  In my spare time I volunteer at my local Sustainability Group and the Australian College of Nursing.

I am determined enough to pursue the opportunities I found but all these experiences were and are possible because people believed in me, mentored me and gave me an chance.

Women reach out your hands to to pull others with you on life’s adventures.

Is there a particular woman you find inspiring and why?

Cathy McGowan is amazing, so much energy, so much drive and so much wisdom.  She asked me “What I had done with the training I had received through ARLP?”  When I gave a wishy washy answer, that I had increased my confidence.  She demanded more, she wanted to know what have I DONE.  I went home and started my business and decided to do my Phd.

What advice do you give to other female leaders?

Make as many connections as you can and listen, learn and share with them.


Jen is part of our inspiring alumni and undertook the Australian Rural Leadership Program.