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Fireside with Sheilla

Written by Philippa Smith



180DC is a dynamic organisation filled with unique individuals from a range of different backgrounds who all share a common passion for social impact. Sheilla Njoto’s story is proof that no matter what industry your past or future aspirations lie, 180DC will provide you with corporate skills and experience but additionally a unique social perspective to take into the workforce.

Sheilla’s experiences prior to joining 180DC are extensive, having completed a Foundation Degree in Art, Design and Architecture and Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts and Fine Arts at RMIT University before moving on to complete a Master of Public Policy and Management at the University of Melbourne. Though Sheilla’s accomplishments span further than her education. You may have heard her guest lecturing at the University of Melbourne, listened to the podcast she co-hosts, Politics vsPolicy, or read her blog, Talking Feet​ . Sheilla’s current work surrounds policy and research, where she is leading a team as the Research Project Manager at The Policy Lab.

It was through an internship at PwC in Indonesia that Sheilla began to consider pursuing consulting. After a friend introduced her to 180DC, Sheilla decided to branch out into this new field. After successfully applying for the role of Team Leader in Semester 2 last year, Sheilla and her team began work with Victorian Women’s Trust where their aim was to restructure and reconstruct operations. Sheilla claims that her 180DC experience was “more than [she] expected,” allowing her to engage at an internal level and contribute to an NFP whose message she resonated with. She found her work to be more autonomous when compared to her previous experiences as she found that you have to “embody the organisation to bring it to success, rather than [following] strict guidelines and focusing on your own performance,” as “you are a part of it.”

When questioned about how the organisation helped to shape her into the person she is today, Sheilla claimed it changed how she perceived how to work within an organisation, as she learnt that “[her] success should be the success of the organisation,” which helped her to understand the significance of ownership as she came to find that “if this organisation fails, I fail.” These are skills she now carries with her as a researcher in a different industry, allowing her to understand the vision of her projects and steer her team in the right direction.

Sheilla’s experience was somewhat unique, having taken the Team Leader role without any previous work with the organisation. This jump taught her that it is important to not restrict yourself when applying for roles you believe you may not be knowledgeable or competent enough for as it is important to first “take responsibility, then commit to learning.” Sheilla took it upon herself to learn from her other team members and reach out to her leaders in order to absorb all the insights she could to develop herself to be the best leader she can.

Sheilla concluded that the friends she made at 180DC helped her to grow and gave her confidence to pursue pathways she may have previously dismissed. She claims that her 180DC friends believe in her and​ they are the type of people who will allow you to get the most out of your university experience. Despite it only amounting to a short amount of time in her career, Sheilla believes that she “got so much,” from her one semester of real-life consulting experience at 180DC. Sheilla’s story shows that no matter your background or future aspirations, there is a place for anyone at 180DC where you have the potential to gain insightful skills and make lasting relationships, all while giving back to the community through the organisation's social focus.

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