Anne-Marie Cheney, Kaitlyn Rafter, 17 May, 2021

Kaitlyn Rafter and Anne-Marie Cheney are towards the end of their Executive MBA and MBA and have been chosen to participate in this years’ UN Women Australia's Trek for Human Rights as part of their QUT Executive MBA and MBA experiences. QUT Business School are proud to have a strong partnership with UN Women Australia which includes a Graduate School of Business Women in Leadership Excellence Scholarship and UN Women Australia's Trek for Rights.

Kaitlyn and Anne-Marie share their Executive MBA and MBA experiences, approach to fundraising as part of the Trek and their pursuit of improving quality of life for all women.

Kaitlyn’s MBA experiences

In search of a career change but finding so much more…

I first decided to study my MBA in order to prepare for a career change into a commercial role.  Having started my career as a practicing solicitor, I was finding it difficult to transition to a role in management consulting. Early in my studies, I met with a careers coach at QUT and he helped set up a few coffees with people he knew within the field of consulting and from that I landed a role in BHP.

My MBA experience however has been so rewarding, on levels beyond just advancing my career. I have had the opportunity to push myself outside my comfort zone, undertaking an international study tour to Germany. I became a committee member of Fostering Executive Women, a professional network for current and past female postgraduate students at QUT, giving me the opportunity to connect with and enable like-minded women committed to female career advancement. Lastly, in completing my MBA coursework, I was able to complete a project I am very passionate about, and will progress BHP’s organisational strategy for diversity and inclusivity forward.

Most importantly though, the personal development I gained through this course, from both self-reflection and connection with others, has helped me to find my voice along with the confidence to use it. While I still have days plagued by ‘imposter syndrome’ where my voice may waiver, I have gained the strength to be my own advocate and recognise in myself the value that I bring to the table.

Why trek

Undertaking the Trek for Rights has actually been a goal for me throughout my MBA journey, having previously applied to participate. I am thrilled to be representing QUT and incredibly grateful for this opportunity.

UN Women Australia is an incredible organisation, advocating and taking action to progress women’s leadership and participation from the local to the global level. Being able to contribute to the work UN Women Australia are doing within refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar, where their Women’s Centres provide healthcare, resources, education and safety for Rohinya women and girls, is incredibly fulfilling and humbling.

I expect the Trek itself to be a challenge – both physically and emotionally – but I am excited to learn and grow from sharing this experience and its purpose with our trekking group.

Anne-Marie’s Executive MBA experiences

Getting to know the cohort and hear about their diverse backgrounds and life experiences has been a key part of why I have enjoyed the Executive MBA experience so far. I really wanted to get outside of my "bubble" and meet new people from different professions in addition to the actual education side of things. I've really valued working with different groups and the presentation skills we have worked on - it’s certainly made me feel more at ease in front of a room!

Knowing who you are as a leader

I feel a lot more confident within myself since I began the Executive MBA in January, 2020. I have expanded my knowledge on a large range of areas of business, and I have gained confidence from learning completely new skills, such as data analysis, economics, and financial management.

The course work is hard but rewarding, and really makes you think differently about yourself, business, and the world.  I've really enjoyed the mix of online and face-to-face workshops as well as the wide range of resources, readings, and videos we are sent by our lecturers.

Why trek

I've always been passionate about women's issues, and have worked with some incredible women's brands such as Marie Claire and digital media social enterprise, Primer. I thought that this opportunity would be life-changing – both physically and mentally, and I am really excited to meet (virtually) some of the women we are raising money for and hear more about their life.

We will be undertaking a 5-day Trek in Tasmania - a first for me - both trekking and going to Tasmania. I've always wanted to go and love to set myself a challenge!

The IWD’s 2021 theme, “Choose to Challenge”, means to me to challenge the norm. As working mums, we must challenge the status quo that you can't have a satisfying and challenging career as well as a family and I believe if you have a good support system built in, you absolutely can. I feel it's a timely theme for 2021 as we bring more exposure and accountability to sexual harassment and assault, and really challenge societal structures and how they contribute to this.

Women's participation in the workforce is crucial and economically and socially important to the world. We need to be taken seriously and workplaces and the government need to do more to support us as working parents. We need women in all positions of business and government to lead by example, and men to take accountability and support participation as well. This is important to me as a mother of two young girls - I want to show them what they can achieve and what is possible.

What is involved in the trek

Kaitlyn and Anne-Marie will join UN Women Australia for the Trek for Rights 2021 as they trek through the iconic Overland Trail of Cradle Mountain 25th – 29th October 2021. The purpose of this trek is to fundraise to support Rohingya refugee women and girls in Bangladesh. Kaitlyn and Anne-Marie will be able to connect with UN Women Australia staff and refugees to hear how their fundraising efforts and making a real difference.

Both Kaitlyn and Anne-Marie have started their fundraising activities to raise $3000 each for Rohingya refugee women and girls. You can support by donating to their fundraising.

The scholarship we provide for our MBA associates to undertake this trek include airfares, meals and accommodation.


Anne-Marie Cheney

Anne-Marie is a  strategic, collaborative leader and Executive MBA candidate leading multi-channel integrated projects and partnership development for top-tier brands.


Kaitlyn Rafter

Kaitlyn is Strategy and Business Development professional from Brisbane, and is a QUT MBA Associate.


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