Holly Dunne, WWIL President ’17-19
What was your experience at WWIL like?
When I came across Western Women in Leadership, I was so excited about the idea of a club at Western that strived to provide a space for like-minded students to come together to support young professional women in achieving their career goals. Through my experience as a member of the group and with the Executive Team, I carried out large-scale initiatives to empower my fellow students to grow as leaders by learning new skills and building confidence. The work was as fulfilling as I expected, but what I did not expect from the three years that I spent as part of the organization was how close our little community would become. The relationships and connections that I formed through WWIL are some of my most valued friendships that I took from Western, and I consider my time with WWIL to be the highlight of my experience at UWO.
What were your favourite parts about UWO? Any favourite classes?
WWIL was without a doubt my favourite part of my time at Western. Beyond WWIL, I really enjoyed getting involved in other on-campus initiatives like EnviroWestern through the University Students’ Council. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, the relationships and community that I built through these extracurriculars, my classes, and through socializing were extremely important to me, and I maintain many of those friendships today!
I was an Environmental Science major, and my favourite class was GEO3352 Paleolimnology and Global Environmental Change. Paleolimnology is a science that uses lake sediment profiles to reconstruct past environmental conditions–I found it so interesting that I did my Honours Thesis project in the same field!
How did school prepare you for your career?
I’m a big believer of the idea that university doesn’t teach you what to think, but rather your experience with higher education is meant to teach you how to think. One of my biggest takeaways from my time at Western, from experiences inside and outside of the classroom, was to always be open-minded and willing to hear different points of view. In the professional world, diverse thought is the key to high-performing teams.
What are you doing now?
Right now I am in the final semester of my MBA which I am completing at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. My main passion has always been the environment and sustainability, and, in understanding the massive role that the corporate sphere plays in turning the tide on many environmental issues, I want to combine my knowledge from the science and business realms to make a difference. Through my MBA, I’ve also managed to stay involved in initiatives similar to WWIL, and am the President of the Ted Rogers MBA Women in Leadership Association.
What is one piece of advice you would give yourself?
Go for it. I find that I, along with a lot of my female colleagues and friends, sometimes come too close to talking myself out of pursuing an opportunity that I deem over my head, or setting a goal that I think is too far out of reach to accomplish. Over time, I’ve realized that, in every case where I made the leap anyway, I landed on my feet. It’s always important to understand your strengths and weaknesses to best leverage your unique abilities, but I also believe that you only grow and learn if you’re stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. -Gloria Steinem