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Amanda Sayan, The University of Sydney

This week, we spent five minutes with Amanda Sayan, director of Global Research Engagement at The University of Sydney.


"Suffice to say I ended up at LA airport at 2.00am with no bag and no hotel… I was pretty hysterical at this stage"

Introduce yourself in three words or phrases. 

Humble, genuine and empathetic

What do you like most about your job?

I get to meet people from all over the world and visit some of the world’s best universities and spend time in some pretty awesome places.  The other aspect of my job is that our research actually makes a difference and can change lives.

If you had a magic wand, what would you change?

A bit clichéd but I would remove poverty, inequality and misogyny!

What are your top five priorities?

Health, family, environmental sustainability, travel and friendships.

Tell me about a defining moment in your career

I think the defining moment was when I was promoted internally, I applied not taking it too seriously and then it occurred to me that this was a defining moment for me, implementing an ambitious strategy and managing a team.

What was your first job in intled?

My first role was a study abroad an exchange adviser, I was responsible for looking after the US study abroad students, and wow they required a lot of pastoral care!

What keeps you awake at night?

Geopolitics, climate change and keyboard warriors.

Best work trip?

Best work trip was a delegation to India, it was the largest delegation to India by the university that my team organised we had over 50 delegates spread out across India. This trip indicted the university’s interest in building engagement in India which has always been a passion of mine.

Worst work trip?

A trip to the US, every single flight was delayed or cancelled and suffice to say I ended up at LA airport at 2.00am with no bag and no hotel… I was pretty hysterical at this stage.

“Coffee in the US isn’t up to standard”

What makes you get up in the morning?

Probably knowing how blessed I am to be who I am in this lifetime!

How did you find yourself working in intled?

Haha I did an humanities degree, and when I graduated I realised I was pretty unqualified so I thought I would complete a master’s – same thing I was not really qualified for a particular role so I started working at the university helping out with the faculty of science orientation, and stayed for 20 years.

Biggest challenge to your profession?

Being promoted internally, having a massive learning curve and having to gain the respect of my colleagues.

Champion/cheerleader which we should all follow and why?

Brené Brown – the power of vulnerability, she is unassuming, but she is really relatable!

Best intled conference and why

I am a big supporter of the APAIE conferences, there are opportunities for professional staff to present, and share best practice and they provide a great platform to network.

Worst conference food/beverage experience

AIEA conference in Washington, for me it’s about the coffee and being Australian what can I say we have raised the bar pretty high so coffee in the US isn’t up to standard.

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