Staff Profile: Sunita Varlamos
14 October 2010
What do you do at LV?
My role at LV is Program Manager, Projects. This means that I am responsible for the SkillsBank Program. This program is a key way in which Alumni make real and significant contributions to the community, be it through mentoring, board placements, providing strategic advice and so on. I have recently been exploring and developing other ways in which our Alumni can utilise their leadership and professional skills. This has involved the development of projects that are cross sectoral and innovative.
This year has also seen the formal engagement of WCLP and EBLP participants in a project team to work on a significant issue. There are seven WCLP project teams and five EBLP project teams. These projects have enabled LV to move into some interesting spaces, most notably the area of social enterprise, and has led to a partnership with Social Traders.
How long have you worked here?
I began working at LV in January 2010
What did you do before joining LV?
My career spans experience in the private and community sectors, where I have worked in research and evaluation, policy and strategy, advocacy, international development and project management. I have long enjoyed making my own contribution to the community through my involvement on various Boards of Management. A few years ago I lived in Malaysia (for 4 years) and particularly enjoyed some time working on a diverse range of issues in the development sphere, from UN AIDS and UNICEF to local Burmese refugee groups.
What do you like about your job?
I really like working with the team at LV and feel particularly pleased to be a part of the organisation at this stage of its growth and development. It’s a dynamic organisation and new ideas are encouraged. I also really like working with the alumni of LV and enjoy their diversity, energy and interests. Finally, I like working with the many organisations and people that I get to work with in the projects space. At last count, this was 160 organisations by October.
What do you love?
My role is principally to ‘drive change’ and hence I feel privileged to be able to facilitate positive change in our community.
What have you learnt about leadership in your time at LV?
Good leadership is about ‘letting go’ – and to do so one must value and foster respect, a strong team and good communication. Ultimately, I think its about developing a vision and enabling others to share the dream to work with you.
How do you fill the hours when you’re not at LV?
I have three children (aged 14, 12 and 9) and life is invariably busy but I also make time for other pleasures such as the arts, reading and my lovely new garden. I also love travelling and have just been on wonderful trip to India and Malaysia – fortunately my family also loves travelling and I am always ready for a weekend away or planning the next big trip.
Who has most influenced your professional life?
I can’t say there has been one person who has had a really strong influence on my professional life. I am a keen observer and take out of each experience learnings that have had a positive impact on my development, from having some professional women as role models as a young teenager to the ways I have seen Alumni of LV approach solving problems. I am always learning.
Do you have any leadership lessons to impart?
I recently visited the memorial and home of Mahatma Gandhi and was touched by his unique leadership approach and the impact he achieved in his life. His view was that a good leader needed to “be the change you want to see in the world”. On a personal note, he suggests we “live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”