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speaker

Jillian
Kenny

Award-winning entrepreneur and expert in STEM education and diversity.

Profile

Dr Jillian Kenny is a creator at heart and constantly on the lookout for opportunities to create value in the world, both for and through business. Her tendency to challenge traditional ways of thinking coupled with a commitment to providing opportunities for non-traditional entrants into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) professions has led her to establish two businesses serving this space - Power of Engineering and Maths In Real Life.

Since then, she has challenged audience perspectives through speaking in the UK, USA, South Korea and Australia. She was named as one of the inaugural Superstars of STEM by Science and Technology Australia and among Australia's Top 100 Most Influential Women by the Australian Financial Review.

As Founding Director of Maths In Real Life, Jillian led the company to develop innovative digital high school mathematics resources that are engaging and relevant to real life, answering that age-old question, "Why do I have to learn this?" In 2012, she co-founded the non-profit organisation Power of Engineering, which runs nationwide events for female and regional Year 9 and 10 students to inspire them about the engineering profession; showcasing its diversity, creativity, and most importantly that it is an avenue to making a real difference in the world.

Since completing a PhD exploring innovation in the Australian water sector, Jillian has applied the insight and experience gained through this process to a range of sectors including education, health and water.

Media
Expertise
Talking Points

Uncommon: A Curiosity-led Career

Chaotic, confused, haywire. Maybe. Her approach to careers has always been… uncommon. Growing up, she believed the fairy tale. She thought she would get a J.O.B., climb the career ladder and eventually reach the pinnacle. But for speaker, entrepreneur and engineer Dr Jillian Kenny that model never did quite fit. In this talk, Jillian peels back the curtain on an atypical approach to career construction, showing how curiosity as a guide can lead to fun and fulfillment.

Audience:
Professionals, lifestyle audiences, young leaders, entrepreneurs, educators, students


In this talk, Jillian will discuss:

- The unexpected places a curiosity-led career has taken her - on the ground and skyward
- How embracing curiosity can lead YOU on a surprising and meaningful career trajectory
- The not-so-secret-sauce for crafting your own curiosity-led career.

Towards Diversity: Progressing from Empowerment to Power

As a woman playing in male-dominated fields for most of her career, Dr Jillian Kenny has heard more than her share of ‘empowerment’ tips. She’s learned how to deepen her voice, power her pose and fake it ‘til she makes it. In this uplifting talk, Jillian argues that the burden of change should not lie on individuals, but on organisations and systems of power. She asks the question: What if, rather than having our attention on empowerment, we instead reimagine the systems of power that shape our world?

Audience:
Business leaders, executives, corporates, professionals

In this talk, Jillian will discuss:

- How the empowerment economy is a consolation prize for women
- Key ways to recognise and value different forms of power
- An approach to creating a new, more inclusive power system

Diversity as a Superpower

Although we often tend to be more comfortable - and perhaps happier - in organisations and situations that match our cultures, values and beliefs, it's often the ones where we don't quite 'fit' that we can contribute the most. This is the paradox of diversity.

Audience:
Professionals, young leaders, business leaders, lifestyle audiences, entrepreneurs

In this talk, Jillian discusses how we can understand, embrace and leverage our difference, turning it into a superpower.

Key takeaways:
- Discover your unique difference
- Understand how your difference can add value
- Learn how to tap into your unique difference and turn it into a superpower.

NOTE: This session can also be run as an interactive workshop.

Creative Leadership in Uncertain Times

The world is changing faster than it ever has before. The future is a blank canvas, and in creating this future we need leaders who can think beyond the traditional approaches and norms of the past. Leaders who can bring creativity. Through sharing some of the challenging and vulnerable moments in her own story, Jillian will reveal the elements for creative leadership and why it is critical for leading organisations into an uncertain future.

Audience:
Business leaders, professionals, corporates, young leaders, entrepreneurs


Key takeaways:

- Why creativity is important for leaders (especially in STEM)
- The five pillars for creativity in leadership
- How you can apply them into your own leadership practice

Why Maths?

Why maths? Remember back in high school when you used to rush to mathematics class thinking, ‘YES, I can’t wait to get stuck into these non-linear equations today’? No? Alright, no one was really thinking that.

Especially engineer and entrepreneur, Dr Jillian Kenny, who in high school thought maths was totally irrelevant for her future. In fact, from Year 9 onwards, all she wanted to be was a lawyer… just like Ally McBeal.

In this eye-opening talk, Jillian shares her own journey, about how she went from being the kid sitting in the back row and questioning the purpose of maths, to valuing it so much that she created a company to build her very own real-world maths resources.

Jillian will discuss:
* why maths is important in preparing young people for the future of work (and how the answer may not be what we think it is)
* five unexpected ways she uses maths in her day-to-day life
* how to engage young people in maths

NOTE: this talk is primarily for educators, but a modified version is available for students Audience:
Educators, students


Engineering: The Myths and the Facts

Having spoken to thousands of students through her non-profit Power of Engineering, Jillian noticed a number of common myths about science, technology, engineering and maths careers. In this talk she busts the myths and shares the facts, leaving students with the message that even if they don’t think of themselves as a STEM person, there might just be something in it for them.

Audience:
Primary or secondary students, educators, parents
Topics

Business

  • Mastering Leadership
  • Purpose & Vision
  • Future of Work

Innovation

  • Creativity
  • Science & Technology
  • Digital

Motivational

  • Entrepreneurship

Politics & Advocacy

  • Leadership
  • Intergenerational Leadership
  • Women's Rights
Feedback
We were recommended Dr Jillian Kenny for the graduation address at the Defence Science Technology Group’s Graduate Program in Scientific Leadership. It became clear to us why Jillian was named the inaugural ‘Superstar of STEM’ and one of the '100 Most Influential Australian Women'; Jillian didn’t just deliver a passionate speech, she captivated her audiences with her expressive energy and compelling storytelling of her journey. Jillian artfully weaved her description of the “Five Pillars of Leadership” into her storytelling. Her story inspired the audience, and her openness in sharing her vulnerable and challenging moments in her journey spoke of authenticity. The impact of Jillian’s message continues to be felt amongst those of us who were lucky to hear her speech. Defence Science & Technology Group, Department of Defence
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