Introducing Sam Skinner - leading Halogen into 2015
Just last month, we welcomed on board Samantha Skinner as our new General Manager. Now she’s had time to get her email up and running, we thought we would take this opportunity to sit her down (while there's still time– yes, Australia’s biggest leadership event will take place this November!) and give you all a little more insight into the new face at Halogen…
You have come from an education background. Tell us a little more about your previous roles to date?
I started my career in Armidale, a regional city in Northern NSW, as a secondary school English teacher. During that time I enjoyed a six-year stint as the Year Coordinator for an amazing group of young people. I think it was because of them that I started to explore opportunities to work in extra-curricular welfare, leadership and learning support roles. I also worked for a while as a support teacher for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. This role demanded more of a focus on individual students and their particular needs, so I started to build networks with agencies and service providers in the local community – to make sure that my students were well supported to learn and grow within and beyond the traditional classroom environment.
Our family relocated to Dubbo in Western NSW at the end of 2006, when my husband took on the position of Principal in the high school there (yes, he is Principal Skinner… and the joke will never get old in the eyes of his students!). In Dubbo I worked as a Careers Adviser with senior students to help them navigate the sometimes-rocky path from school to further education and employment. Again, in this role I enjoyed the case management focus – supporting individual students to be well informed, equipped and empowered to achieve their ambitions. I also coordinated the school’s equity, Aboriginal and welfare programs – including working with the Australian Government to manage delivery of the Indigenous Youth Leadership Program (IYLP) across selected NSW Government schools. As an IYLP Partnership Broker I was privileged to work with many young Indigenous men and women who were identified as potential leaders within their communities. Our brokerage supported students with educational scholarships so that they were enabled to achieve their full potential while still remaining in their home school and community.
2013 saw my family make a radical shift to the city – what a culture shock! My husband was offered the position of Principal in a large public high school in Sydney’s East, and we established a new base in Bondi – a stark contrast to Dubbo! I was fortunate to be offered a position with UNSW, as the manager of the ASPIRE Outreach Program, connecting students and families with higher education and providing them with opportunities to experience university and begin to visualise themselves on a pathway to academic and career success. ASPIRE’s wonderful team, inspiring network of volunteers and partners and genuine social impact made this an incredibly satisfying and challenging time in my career and prepared me well for the transition into my exciting new role at the Halogen Foundation.
What sparked your interest most about the opportunity to lead Halogen?
About 9 years ago, when my daughter was first elected onto her primary school SRC she attended a Halogen Primary NYLD in Sydney. She spoke about it endlessly for months afterward and really connected with the leadership messages presented by the speakers on the day. In my various roles since then I have encouraged students and their leadership mentors to take advantage of any opportunity to attend Halogen events. They always return so ‘fired up’ and full of energy to use their influence to create real change.
What does great leadership look like to you?
Great leadership is about selflessness It’s about feeling deeply enough about a problem or issue, that you will take a risk and put the needs of others before your own.
Young people demonstrate great leadership in so many ways. Most of the time, I think it occurs when someone is just quietly getting on with the job, when no one else is noticing. They don’t do whatever they are doing for recognition. However, what they are doing almost always has a great sense of purpose. They stick it out, not just for themselves but also for the benefit of others.
Tell us a little about your family…
I have a wonderful extended/blended family. My husband had four children already from his first marriage, and I was fortunate that we all got along so well as they grew up. It took some doing, but I finally did manage to convince Richard that he needed a couple more children in his life… So my own son and daughter are now in their teens. As I write this, Jessica is sitting her trial HSC – and plans to head off to uni next year. But, I’ve seen first hand the many pathways there are to success, so I am comfortable knowing that what ever happens she will make her way to where she wants to go. My son Joe is in Year 8, and wants a career that involves a lot of YouTube and gaming. Hopefully there is a pathway into that area too!!
You will be attending your first National Young Leaders Day events this November, what are you looking forward to the most?
As I mentioned, I know so many people who’ve had the opportunity to attend National Young Leaders Days – and yet I never have!! What happened there? I am very excited to experience the energy and enthusiasm of so many young people who want to develop their voice and be an agent for change, combatting injustice and creating social impact. It really is so moving and uplifting for those of us who can’t claim to be young anymore to see the promise of the future in the youth of today.
For more information on Sam, click here.
Like to ask Sam a question? Comment below.