Time for change: Q&A with Megan Chan June 2019

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An experienced fund manager, Megan Chan has worked at some of Australia's largest institutions, but a volunteer job with Dress For Success Sydney, a charity with a mission to improve the employability of women in need, ignited her passion for a new career. We find out from Megan why the time was right to step down from her job at State Super and her excitement for what comes next.

What was the impetus for you to leave your role at State Super?

I started the volunteer orientation process with Dress for Success Sydney (DfSS) in 2018 and once I started volunteering I realised that it was greatly personally rewarding.

My role at State Super NSW was to implement the unlisted assets and alternatives strategies for the DC portfolio. The unlisted portfolio became fully invested in early 2019 and we designed a clear investment pathway for the private market alternatives portfolio.

At the same time, I found it more difficult to juggle the demand of my State Super NSW role, volunteering and my family. I was ready for a move and the excitement and passion I feel when talking about that avenue of my life made the choice obvious.

I hope to work with more “for purpose” organisations going forward. My passion is working with women to lift them up, move forwards and succeed in their life.

"I was ready for a move and the excitement and passion I feel when talking about that avenue of my life made the choice obvious."

How did you first get involved with Dress for Success Sydney?

I’ve known about Dress for Success Sydney for decades since Women in Super organised them to talk at one of their lunches when I was on the WIS Board. They have a very good brand in the market and numerous times I donated my work clothes to them at donation events.

"One of Dress for Success Sydney’s guiding principles is to build confidence and realise the potential of disadvantaged women to achieve self-sufficiency."

What will your new role entail?

I really love working directly with the DfSS clients. I’m a volunteer. 1 out of about 300 or so. But I love feeling like I am making a difference to each woman’s life or day when they come in for a styling session.

I currently work primarily as a stylist which entails working with individual clients on choosing and providing them with interview outfits, or if they have a job providing them with a week’s worth of clothing. I think of our styling sessions as the client’s ‘pretty woman’ moment. She is the star and on a basic level we are giving them clothes, but we are also making them feel important, respected and worthwhile.

One of Dress for Success Sydney’s guiding principles is to build confidence and realise the potential of disadvantaged women to achieve self-sufficiency.

...so whilst I’ve had a very fortunate life, I also know what it means to be bullied, not fit in and feel uncomfortable in my own skin."

Where did you grow up and what was it like?

I grew up in leafy Wahroonga. I’m a Sydney girl through and through. I was born in the 1970’s during the white Australia policy. Racism was rife. I was the only Asian at my primary school and only 1 of a handful at my high school. This made me different which no kid likes to be, so whilst I’ve had a very fortunate life, I also know what it means to be bullied, not fit in and feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I think this is why I am so drawn to helping other women who may feel the same reach their full potential.

What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

I hate shore breaks!

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