Alumni Spotlight: Linda Liwewe – Joan Kirner Emerging Leaders Program S3 Valedictorian

Meet Linda Liwewe, Valedictorian of the 2023 third series of the Joan Kirner Emerging Leaders Program. Named in honour of Victoria’s first woman Premier, Joan Kirner AC, the program aims to give women in leadership the tools, strategies and support to develop and advance their careers.  

Linda is an emerging leader who has spent the last several years in the Victorian public sector, specifically in the criminal justice space as a Senior Project Manager with Victoria Police. Her interest in systemic thinking has seen her contribute to a more inclusive community. This has shown through her work in managing public sector digital and reform projects aimed at greatly enhance the lives of Victorians, in particular women, CALD and LGBTIQ communities. 

As an Alum of LV’s Leader Evolution program, Linda was once again drawn to Leadership Victoria, this time through the Joan Kirner program. She strived to tackle a challenge that she was facing in her organisation as well as the barriers that many minority women face in accessing leaders representative of the communities they belong to. Her pressing question when entering the program was “How can I improve my leadership capabilities?”, a question that many leaders ask themselves throughout their leadership journey.  

In 2019, Linda wrote an article titled “Miss Not Good Enough”, detailing a struggle with imposter syndrome and developing an authority to speak on her own work. Ultimately, she concluded that the feeling of inadequacy in a room of formidable leaders was “brought on entirely by [her] own decision to measure [herself] against a group of individuals whose journeys had nothing to do with [her] own”. Today, she describes her leadership challenge as something similar, leading with confidence and trusting that the decisions she is making are the most beneficial for her team and organisation. 

Linda explained that the emphasis on psychological safety during the Joan Kirner program allowed for an environment where participants were able to freely express themselves, ask daring questions and push themselves to be creative in their thinking. After a long time of holding the perception that there was a static definition of leadership, Linda stated that “I’ve come to realise that I have to decide for myself what it means to be a leader…I thought I had to mould myself into this shape that was already predetermined, which is not fashioned into the shape of a black woman for example”. She found freedom in letting this notion go, discovering that she was able to start from a place of truth about who she is and what her values are. Linda stated that only then was she able to become a more effective leader.  

When reflecting on her greatest takeaway from the Joan Kirner program a few months later, she described the ability to lead with clarity. The most impactful outcome for how she chooses to lead today was overcoming imposter syndrome and having certainty in her skills and capabilities as a woman in leadership. Linda encourages other emerging leaders in all sectors to understand their values as a leader, and to focus on not compromising these. She also emphasises building the confidence to step outside the idea of the perfect leader and trusting one’s own expertise. 

About the Joan Kirner Emerging Leaders Program 

The Joan Kirner program aims to empower and support women to identify the leadership challenges they face, and develop practical skills and strategies to advance their leadership and careers. Delivered in partnership with Leadership Victoria, round four of the program will be held from 11 October to 20 November 2023. Learn more here.

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