ANU alumni are breaking the ‘bamboo ceiling’

13 Sep 2021

At Google, Seiji Armstrong (BSc '07 and PhD '11) develops machine learning algorithms to make the internet a safer place. Noushin Nasiri (PhD '16) and her team at Nanotech Laboratory are immersed in research to develop technologies for personalised and preventive medicine.

Through her work at Deakin University, Lee Martin (MAsPc St '13) helps individuals and organisations better tap into and benefit from cultural diversity. At the Centre for Stories, a social impact arts initiative, Robert Wood (BA '05, BEc '05) uses storytelling to improve understanding of diverse communities.

These ANU alumni achievers are awardees in the '2021 40 Under 40: Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards.' The awards celebrate the powerful contributions of Asian-Australian leaders across Australia's public institutions and private organisations.

Seiji, the Corporate category winner, is focused on making the internet free from online abuse. He believes the recognition being received by Asian-Australians will play an important part in improving race relations in Australia.

"Part of me wants to win a 40 under 40 award that doesn't specify race or identity," says Seiji. "The more sensible part of me recognises this is an amazing honour, and the community that is being created is extremely powerful."

A year after receiving her PhD from ANU, Noushin, an awardee in the Science & Medicine category, took up a lecturing position at Macquarie University, where she built the Nanotech Laboratory from the ground up.

"It is an honour to be recognised in my field of research," says Noushin. "I am thrilled to be named among this remarkable group of young leaders from different sectors, whose incredible contributions are challenging the norm in leadership positions in Australia." 

Lee, an awardee in the category of Education, was inspired by the personal stories shared by the awardees during the presentation ceremony.

"It fills me with optimism for a future in which leadership across all sectors will look much more culturally diverse than it does today," says Lee. "I really feel hopeful that the day will come that when we think of 'leader', we will not automatically think of one type of person."

Robert, awardee in the Arts & Culture category, felt it was humbling to receive the award as the community arts are one of the least resourced parts of the creative industries.

"It is also humbling because this is about my own identity", says Robert. "I want the respect of my community, especially because I am mixed race. To be seen and valued by fellow Asian-Australians matters more than anything else."

The Awards are an initiative of the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit, of which the ANU Centre for Asian-Australian Leadership (CAAL) is a co-convenor alongside PwC Australia, Asialink at the University of Melbourne, and Johnson Partners.  

"The Awards challenge current leadership models within organisations, workplaces, industries and communities to ensure they better reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of our society", says Jieh-Yung Lo, Director, ANU CAAL.

"Our awardees are a reflection of the world-class education, research and student experience offered at ANU, which equips current and future Asian-Australian leaders to recognise and break through the 'bamboo ceiling'."

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