Words of wisdom from women at the top

Whatever your dream career, one thing’s for sure. A helping hand or well-timed word of encouragement will never go astray! That’s why we asked nine of USQ’s many successful alumnae to share the best piece of career advice they’ve ever received.  Whether you’re taking the first tentative steps on your career journey or are ready to make a bold leap forward, let these words of wisdom be your inspiration.

 Aletha Ward

‘The best career advice I have ever been given is to keep my options open. It is so easy to pigeon hole ourselves into an area which can sometimes be difficult to get out of. Options give you the ability to keep growing professionally. This includes keeping good relationships from those positions and colleagues you have left and being broad in your approach to education and professional development. Having a broad range of options and working across areas outside of your specialty increases your networks, knowledge and future opportunities.’ – Aletha Ward

Aletha’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Nursing, Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Philosophy. She was awarded Professional Alumnus of the Year 2014 and has led a successful career in the healthcare industry.

 Deb Frecklington

‘The best piece of career advice I have received is the obvious one – to always work hard. But another piece of advice that has always stuck with me is to take any opportunity that presents itself and to not be afraid of a challenge’. – Deb Frecklington

Deb studied a Bachelor of Business with USQ and has enjoyed a successful political career.

Belinda Brosnan

‘Know your strengths and work every day at refining and using them. Often we think we need to be ‘well-rounded’ but that just leads to mediocrity - focus on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses. Also, make sure you sustain and foster your networks and relationships throughout your career and surround yourself with people who inspire you. Build others up always - don’t ever tear them down. You never know when you will need those people, and when they will need you. My 20 year career and now my own business is built on these relationships. I have seen careers slide because of egos and people thinking they were ‘safe’ in their job, only to later find themselves struggling to find the next opportunity because they never ‘gave something back.’ – Belinda Brosnan

Belinda studied a Bachelor of Business with USQ and was the QLD winner of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards (2015).

  Marnie Gibson

'I would say the best advice I've received is to never be defensive as it doesn't precipitate positive, open conversations and prevents feedback. If you don't actively ask for feedback, you'll never grow. Find a company that represents your values and adds value to your style of working and the sky's the limit with your happiness and achievement!' – Marnie Gibson

Marnie is currently furthering her qualifications with USQ, studying a Doctor of Business Administration and has led a successful career in human resources management.

  Kylie Chan

'Back in the early 80s, I wanted to do computers/IT and it was a new profession then. Our next-door neighbour was in the field already, and he strongly advised my parents that a university degree would be a complete waste of time and money and that I would be able to go far in IT without a tertiary education. I spent the next six years playing catch-up with my peers who had gained their qualifications already, as I did the degree part-time while working full-time. It held me back from many of the opportunities that they had; without the degree I couldn't be promoted above a certain level even though I had the talent. So, my advice to all of those who can qualify for tertiary education is go for it!' – Kylie Chan

Kylie completed her Master of Business Administration with USQ and has since become a best-selling author.

Amanda Able

'My PhD supervisor (at USQ) told me that in work and in life we should always follow our passions. Do something that you like to do and do that to the best of your ability. When you enjoy what you do, it allows you to dream big and challenge yourself to achieve more in your career. In my case, I love teaching the next generation of scientists and I am passionate about my scientific research. Because of the enjoyment I get from my career, I am always striving to achieve even more and creating challenges. Life is for living big!' – Amanda Able

Amanda completed both her Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Doctor of Philosophy with USQ and was awarded Research Alumnus of the Year 2015


Caitlyn Gribbin

'The best advice I've ever received was to always develop your network of contacts. You never know when one of those contacts will call you with the next great opportunity for your career. Also, take every opportunity you can to build your skills. Employers want multi-skilled people on their team, so don't get left behind!' – Caitlyn Gribbin

Caitlyn studied a Bachelor of Communication with USQ, was awarded Young Alumnus of the Year 2015 and has pursued a successful career in the media industry.

Katrina Hobbs

'Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up from there. Employers are always on the lookout for staff that are faithful and competent with the little things, because they know they can then trust them with more!' – Katrina Hobbs

Katrina was awarded Young Alumnus of the Year 2012 and studied a Bachelor of Business with USQ before beginning her career in the agricultural industry.

Maree Toombs

'When others try to bring you down, back yourself and your dreams. If you want to achieve your goals you can do it, you just have to believe you can.' – Maree Toombs

Maree was USQ’s first Aboriginal PhD recipient and was awarded Outstanding Alumnus of the Year and Indigenous Service Alumnus of the Year 2015.


Whatever stage you’re at in your career, let these words inspire you to take that next step forward with confidence.  For even more great insights and advice to help sharpen your competitive edge, check out our short and simple Alumni Career Tips series. 


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