Amazing women who inspire us.

In honour of International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March, we wanted to highlight some of the talented women of Toorak College who have shown perseverance, grit and spirit to achieve success in their chosen fields.

Miss Tando Matanda, Toorak Collegian, Venture Capitalist and Innovation Consultant

Tell us about your educational journey.

“I am a Cambridge University graduate, investment and corporate venturing expert, who has spent the last decade advising, launching and funding early-stage businesses around the world."

Tell us about your career journey.

"A Boston Consulting Group alum, I head up a multi-million dollar mobility-focused corporate venture fund for carsales ltd (ASX:CAR – one of the worlds largest automotive retail marketplaces with a $8B AUD market cap and a presence in 3 continents), the first program of its kind in Australia. I also run a success venture advisory firm focused on matching emerging market ventures with global investors.

This new area of the business allows us to invest and scale early stage ventures, and create a pipeline of transformative ideas to help drive innovation. We’ve spent the past 25 years setting the pace for innovation in our sector, and we are now working with partners across the start-up ecosystem, to help Pre-seed to Series A businesses grow.”

What makes you passionate about your role?

“My purpose is to drive equity in investment, and I am proud to be the first African Australian woman to lead a multi-million-dollar investment fund, particularly given that women represent less than 5% of executive roles in venture capital globally. I am passionate about how diversity of thought can help create variety in high performing investment portfolios, and give under-represented founders access to the resources they need to change the world. “

What does International Women’s Day mean to you & what are your hopes for women in the future?

“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to come together and celebrate how far women have come in our struggle for equity and peace. It is a chance to honour the hard work of the women before us, the amazing efforts of women today, and inspire the next generation of girls to continue to strive for better. I would love to see a future where women spend more time celebrating our bountiful similarities, than fixating on our differences. A time where women with privilege actively and enthusiastically look for ways to share resources and empower other women. As women we can lead the world by example, by striving for true equity amongst each other first.”

Amelia Hirst, Toorak Collegian, Producer

Tell us about your career journey.

“While I was in my final year of studying a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism) at RMIT, I decided to apply for the Jacoby-Walkley Scholarship and was fortunate enough to be successful. The scholarship, which is a 14 week program organised between The Walkley Foundation and Channel Nine (Sydney), allowed me to gain hands-on experience and the opportunity to explore all realms of broadcast journalism. During my time in Sydney, I was offered a position to become part of the A Current Affair team in Melbourne as a Producer”.

What makes you passionate about your role?

“I often heard when I was entering the industry that as journalists, we have the power to create a real change in someone’s life. While it may not occur in every story, we have the opportunity and responsibility to hold powerful figures to account and give voice to those who otherwise would be silenced.

I feel fortunate to have the chance to make connections with a whole range of people, from all different backgrounds and walks of life. I love meeting new people and just having a conversation, because at the end of the day, that is what journalism is; a conversation.”

Who is someone you admire?

“While it may seem cliche to say, the people I surround myself with, being my friends and family, inspire me on a daily basis. I’m incredibly lucky to have people around me who motivate and support me in everything I do and push me past my limit, believing in me even when I don’t. Looking back at what I’ve been able to do so far, I know it wouldn’t have been possible without having people in my corner, encouraging me to go further.“

What does International Women's Day mean to you & what are your hopes for women in the future?

“For me, International Women’s Day is a day to recognise those who have forged a path, acknowledge the progress that has been made, and celebrate the wins for those who fought so hard. My hope for women in the future is to own who they are and what they choose to follow, to have confidence in their abilities and truly back themselves regardless of the outside noise. Be brave, be kind and be you - that’s all you can do.”

Miss Melissa Schoorman, Head of Wardle House and Deputy Principal.

Tell us about your journey at Toorak College.

“I have been at Toorak College now for 6 years, I am the Head of Wardle House & Deputy Head of Toorak College. In my role as Head of Wardle House, I have the pleasure of teaching all students across Prep to Year 6, which is something that I absolutely love and I don’t think I would do my job if I didn’t get a chance to be in the classroom still teaching.”

What makes you passionate about your role?

“I’m passionate about those students who have additional needs, whether that be that they are struggling to get to school, but also those students who need extension & enrichments. I think we provide the perfect opportunity and environment to cater for all of our students and I love advocating and seeing those children thrive in our Junior School.”

Who is someone you admire, or is inspirational to you?

“A woman I admire is Michelle Obama. I think she has used her platform so well and is a huge advocate for girls education, making sure we are all on level playing fields. The foundations that she’s opened and the connections that she has made shows that she has used the world stage to do such great things for girls education”

Mrs Kate Brown, Deputy Head of Senior School, Academic Growth.

Tell us about your role at Toorak College.

“Working with a talented team, a key part of my role at Toorak College is designing, creating and implementing curriculum that will enable our students to experience success in any field of endeavour. With the rapid growth in artificial intelligence and automation, the role our girls will play in the workforce in the coming decades will be one of innovators and critical thinkers. Over the last four years Toorak has custom built a program that focuses on experiential learning with an emphasis on enterprise skills. We target digital literacy and its application as a potential solution in a variety of problems. Working closely with industry partners such as BHP and Amazon Web Services, we are able to bring meaningful challenges into the classroom.”

Who is someone you admire?

“As a passionate History and Global Politics teacher, there are numerous women who have inspired me with their determination and persistence to continuously challenge the status quo and advocate for the place of women in halls of power. One such leader is Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a South African politician and women's rights advocate. She was the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women from August 2013 to August 2021. During her tenure, UN Women advanced gender equality and women's empowerment worldwide by promoting women's participation in decision-making, ending violence against women, and supporting women's economic empowerment. The words that are used to describe Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka are those that I similarly wish for our students; visionary, courageous, collaborative, resilient and empathic.

This goes to show that women who inspire us are not in short supply. Although there is still more progress to be made in the equal treatment of women around the world, there is a growing number of influential women in our day to day lives that are paving the way for those who come after us.

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