Annie Corlett (BEc)

Annie Corlett (BEc)

Annie Corlett (BEc) has had an impressive career - and while some may know her as business woman extraordinaire - we hold her in very high esteem as President of the Alumni Council of the University of Sydney, for her dedication and commitment to our students, staff and alumni. Annie was elected as the President of our Alumni Council in 2013.

Her passion and leadership as President proved to be so popular amongst the University and Council members that she was re-elected to the Council this year.

The Alumni Council seeks to provide opportunities for alumni to develop a lifelong connection with the University, commencing when a student enters the University. In addition it supports the University and its Division of Alumni and Development in their endeavours to grow alumni engagement across the University community.

Annie began her career working in the financial services sector, before becoming an Executive Director of two publicly listed mining companies in the 1980s. During her tenure as Executive Director of Nicron Resources Ltd, the company's market capitalisation grew from less than $5Million to be taken over for $120 million.

In addition to having a successful professional career, Annie has been an active and long-time supporter of the not-for-profit sector, including 15 years as a volunteer guide and for a period the elected Co-ordinator of Guides at the Art Gallery of NSW. In 2007, after completing the six month training course, Annie became a Lifeline Telephone Crisis Supporter, and subsequently a Facilitator and In-Shift Supervisor. In 2011, Annie was elected to the Board of Lifeline Australia and continues to support this vital organisation with her passion and dedication.

Throughout her career, Annie has managed to strike a balance between her life's passions, business and family life. She has been married for 44 years and has four children, all of whom are university graduates.

Here Annie shares how a university education can expand and enrich one's world in so many ways, and expresses her gratitude for having experienced all that university has to offer.

What are your happiest memories about your time here as a student?
I did not enrol in university until I was 23. I attended North Sydney Girls High School and chose not to take up a Teachers College Scholarship as I knew I did not want to be a teacher and so, in good faith, could not commit to teaching for five years after finishing a degree. This was the 1960's and, in my experience, young women were not provided with encouragement or meaningful mentoring in respect of career possibilities. It was not until I attended university that I discovered the joy of learning. I came to understand that a university education offers a great opportunity to expand and enrich one's world in so many ways. I will always be grateful for this life-changing experience. This indeed made me very happy.

Who was your favourite Professor whilst you were a student at the University of Sydney and why?
I was most fortunate to have been taught by a number of superb Professors but Emeritus Professor Michael Jackson stands out. I, with 20 fellow students, enrolled in the first course, "Power and Knowledge" that Professor Jackson taught at the University. It soon became very clear that we had different expectations to Michael. We expected him to provide us with facts and ideas and we would take notes! After a couple of weeks, Michael gave us an ultimatum - we were to actively participate or he would discontinue the course. He challenged not only our view on the role of a student but our attitude to a university education. Michael's next course was fully subscribed.

What is your proudest achievement?
I have difficulty in answering this question. Pride does often go before a fall! What I would like to say is that there are moments, both private and public, that have nurtured my self-respect. These could be moments when I developed resilience after a major disappointment or sadness, or moments when I chose to be kind or moments when I have had the courage to stand for the values I believe in, such as truth and justice. I also deeply believe that, when a nation fails to live by those values that have become symbolic to a population, such as the responsibility to support the vulnerable members of our community, its people lose faith in the greater heart of the nation.

Who inspires you?
Every day I am inspired by people I either know or do not know. We all have numerous opportunities to witness remarkable people who have "courage under fire", perform a spontaneous act of kindness, create a work of art or make a medical breakthrough... the list goes on. However, recently, I have been particularly inspired by:

Holly-ann Martin, the Founder and Managing Director of Safe4kids, who is a recent recipient of the Rowan Nicks Russell Drysdale Fellowship. The Fellowship is administered through the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney.
The "People Power" Protesters at the Bentley Blockade.
The five 1Vth Year Honours students from USyd's Government and International Relations Department who recently presented their theses at the "Best and Brightest" event at NSW Parliament House.
Jordan O'Reilly, Co-Founder and General Manager of Fighting Chance Australia and a 2013 University of Sydney Convocation Medal Finalist.
Tell us more about yourself and how you ultimately became the President of the University of Sydney Alumni Council
This was indeed an opportunity that came "out of left field". The Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business, Professor Peter Wolnizer, asked me to stand as a representative of the Faculty at the 2009 Alumni Council elections. I have to admit I had no knowledge of the Alumni Council but when a Dean makes a request one must give it due consideration! I was elected to the Alumni Council for the four year term (2010-2013). I was most grateful to be re-elected in last year's elections. I was elected President by my Alumni Council colleagues in 2013 and again in 2014. I know that there are many alumni who would like to re-connect with the University but are looking to the University to guide them as to how they can best do this. Last year the University commissioned two reviews of the Alumni Relations function. The University is presently considering the key recommendations made in these reviews.
If you are interested in reconnecting with your University may I suggest you monitor the Alumni and Friends webpage for developments on this front.

What is the mantra you live by?
My mantra, at the moment, is "Putting a Boundary around My Judgement". As a Lifeline Telephone Crisis Supporter, I learned, by experience, that when I "Put a Boundary around my judgement" I gained not only a greater understanding of the caller's circumstance but that compassion always accompanied this understanding. It was fairly easy to achieve this when I was unable to see another person, but I soon realised I needed to embrace this idea in my everyday life, face-to-face. All University of Sydney students and alumni are most fortunate to attend a research university, for implicit in the teaching is critical thinking. I believe that putting "a boundary around our judgement" allows us to pause before we leap into our critical thinking stance thus enabling a completely open approach to any issue, problem or research proposition.

What has been the most memorable success you have had?
I would love to say that some action of mine has made a positive difference to someone else's life. But it is not for me to determine this. That is a value judgement for someone else to make. What I have learnt is that often what we might regard as a small gesture may, in fact, help another to embrace hope rather than despair or enable them to "see some light at the end of the tunne". I have been fortunate to be a recipient of such a gesture at various times in my life.

What are your plans for the future?
To be fully invested in all that I do but unattached to the results. Not easy.

What advice would you give students graduating from the University of Sydney?
On reflection, what I have learned is that the goal has to do with the process itself. A quote that resonated with me some time ago is "how we spend our days is how we spend our lives". At the end of the day, what we come to recognise is that being content with how you "played the game" whatever that may be, is what stays with you and is what fosters a life of integrity. Finally, I can assure you, there are many adventures to be had throughout your lifetime.