In the latest episode of the Courage to Lead series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Brown, a highly regarded leader with a diverse career spanning various fields, including homelessness. I’ve known Amy for a while and have always admired her leadership abilities. This blog post will delve into our conversation, highlighting Amy’s experiences, insights, and the lessons she’s learned throughout her career journey.

Meeting Amy Brown

I first met Amy when she was involved with Burdekin House, an adolescent refuge. Later, I sought her help as a consultant at PwC to address homelessness issues. Her contributions to these fields are immense, and I was thrilled to have her on the show to share her experiences and insights.

Amy’s Leadership Journey

Every guest on the show is asked two questions. The first is about their initial experience of leadership. Amy shared her story of moving to Australia at the age of nine and feeling a sense of responsibility to speak on behalf of those who don’t have opportunities. Her belief in the intrinsic worth and equal value of all people drove her to take up volunteering and school leadership positions.

The second question reveals something unknown about the guest. Amy surprised us by revealing that she did a solo skydive at the age of 16, becoming the first girl in her college cadet unit to earn her skydiving wings. This daring feat is a testament to Amy’s courage and willingness to step out of her comfort zone.

Amy’s Early Career Experiences

Amy’s career journey is marked by taking risks and stepping out of her comfort zone. At 18, she worked as a practice assistant for a defamation barrister, learning a great deal about the legal field. This experience led her to secure a role at a law firm after completing her degree, where she worked on significant projects, such as selling Sydney Airport on behalf of the Australian government.

Her dedication and hard work caught the attention of a senior partner who offered her a job at his former law firm in London. This led her to work on project finance transactions in the Middle East, specifically in Egypt. Despite the challenges, Amy learned a great deal and grew both personally and professionally.

Navigating the Workforce as a Young Woman

Amy reflected on the gendered nature of being described as “young” and how male leaders are rarely labeled as such. She was fortunate to work in a firm with many impressive women, so she didn’t feel like a minority. However, when she returned to Australia and worked in the infrastructure sector, she often found herself as the only woman in the room.

Amy also discussed the challenges she faced in dealing with clients and how she had to address their concerns and provide advice and reassurance. She emphasized the importance of taking things one step at a time and seeking advice from respected individuals.

Working in the New South Wales Treasury

Amy discussed her experience working in the New South Wales Treasury and her role in managing public-private partnerships (PBP) and privately financed initiatives (PFI). She gave the example of the Ronald Shaw Hospital, where the government provides core services while the private sector builds, finances, and maintains the facility.

Amy highlighted the importance of active listening and clear communication to understand the concerns of each party involved. She also emphasized the value of involving stakeholders in the project from the beginning to gain their support and alignment with the desired outcomes.

The Importance of Mentorship

Amy spoke highly of her mentor, Jim Betts, who she met while working in the New South Wales Treasury. She admired Jim’s ability to communicate complex ideas in simple, human terms and connect infrastructure projects to their impact on the community. Amy believes that having a mentor like Jim, who provided valuable advice and support, was instrumental in her career development.

Amy’s Time at PwC

At PwC, Amy worked on building schools and social housing estates, projects she is proud of. However, she also faced challenges in consulting land, feeling disconnected from the action and sometimes only brought in to write reports. Despite these challenges, Amy’s curiosity and willingness to ask questions helped her navigate this new role.

Building Trust and Goodwill

Amy emphasized the importance of building trust and goodwill with colleagues by approaching interactions with a mindset of curiosity and a willingness to help. She learned the importance of slowing down and considering the needs of her team members.

Giving Back and Sharing Leadership Insights

Amy finds time to give back and share her leadership insights because she has a team of trusted individuals who handle day-to-day operations. She believes in empowering others to lead and passing on knowledge and experiences to the next generation.

Amy’s Resignation and Future Plans

Amy’s resignation from her position was a difficult decision, but she remained positive and celebratory, highlighting the achievements of her team. Despite the challenges, Amy’s love for public service never faded, and she believes everyone should have the opportunity to make a direct impact on the lives of citizens.

Amy’s resilience and courage are truly inspiring. Her advice to other leaders emphasizes the importance of having a support system and believing in oneself. I am grateful for Amy’s wisdom and insights, and I look forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the future.

To listen to Amy Brown’s full interview click on the link below:

To listen to all 32 episodes of The Courage to Lead Interview Series here is the link to access: