Sheena Polese
Location icon Australia

“We all have the capacity to help”

Meet leadership coach (and ultra-marathon runner!) Sheena Polese

Tell us about your work as a leadership coach.

I help women to develop behaviours that will enable them to become more effective leaders. Working in the corporate world and pro bono at some not-for-profits, too, I recognised that women need a lot more support and coaching in order for them to develop their leadership capacity.

What kinds of behaviours do you focus on?

I coach women on how to develop awareness of their own behavioural tendencies, which are shaped by the environment they've grown up in, and how to work with those tendencies. I ask: what are your strengths and attributes, and what can you amp up, or what might you need to regulate? What are you avoiding? What do you find difficult? It's not about making a cookie-cutter leader, it’s about working out who you are. When women feel like something needs to shift, or something's not quite going the way they would like it to, I can offer another point of view and external support. I just love seeing women grow and prosper.

Before the pandemic, you visited Uganda with a group from Australia for UNHCR and facilitated a leadership program there. What did that involve?

I designed a custom program for the trip: there was a curriculum for purpose-driven women who were coming on the trip from Australia, and a curriculum for the Ugandan women around goal-setting. We wanted it to feel like an exchange. It was an incredible experience. It was remarkable to connect these refugee women, both in the camps but also in the city, with these Australian women, and see them help and support each other.  

Sheena Polese
Leadership coach, advocate for women and LWF donor Sheena Polese said: "I am all about advocating for women, and one of my biggest values is community and giving back." © Supplied

Why did you become a Leading Women Fund donor?

I am all about advocating for women, and one of my biggest values is community and giving back. I'm always looking for ways to align my work, and what I believe in, with philanthropy. And I realised that I have the capacity to help. We are all part of this human struggle. I also like that the Fund is very specific in helping Syrian refugee women who are the heads of their households, and I like that I can see exactly how it’s helping. 

Where is your happy place?

I love being out in nature. That's my church and my place of restoration. I’ve participated in a few ultra-marathons – one was more than 18 hours long – and you learn so much about yourself and about other people. I love hiking and cycling, too. And I have three children, which is a lot of fun.

Sheena LWF fund donor after marathon
Leadership coach and LWF donor Sheena finishing the New York Marathon. © Supplied

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Our fundraising commitment

The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.

78%
Humanitarian programs
12%
Admin
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