Queensland’s 2016 Rhodes Scholar, Harriet Horsfall, believes great leadership should be based on kindness, tenacity and even vulnerability.
Ms Horsfall, who completed her Bachelor of Justice (Honours) in 2014, is QUT’s eighth Rhodes Scholar and the fifth in the past six years.
Currently working as an associate lecturer with QUT, she will head to the University of Oxford’s Department of International Development later this year to study a Master of Science in Global Governance and Diplomacy.
Her Oxford degree will build upon her experience in international volunteering and non-government organisations (NGOs) – and also the personal traits she believes are essential for leaders.
“My Rhodes Scholarship will put me in an incredible position to practise kindness, tenacity, and vulnerability in an even bigger way,” she said.
“I think one of the big problems with a lot of leaders in various spaces is we don’t get to see that person’s emotions a lot of the time.
“Vulnerability and strength are not mutually exclusive concepts. Just because you show people that you’re vulnerable and having trouble doesn’t mean that you’re not also an incredibly strong person.”
Social justice is a huge motivator for Ms Horsfall.
She has worked with homeless and at-risk young people in Brisbane and is part of the local LGBTIQ community.
Last year she travelled to Iran and Indonesia after turning down a job offer in Canberra.
Instead, she “couch surfed” across Iran for a portrait photography project aimed at evoking public discussion on women’s empowerment, and then headed to Indonesia as a volunteer development advisor.
During her degree she also spent her uni holidays managing volunteer programs in Cambodia and Nepal and worked as a volunteer teacher in Nepal.
Ms Horsfall hopes her next journey to Oxford will build on her experiences and help her forge a career in global social justice.
“I hope to contribute to a global culture of leadership around critical NGO program evaluation and innovation,” she said.
“I want to foster a culture of strong NGO governance and evaluation that challenges the notion that ‘good is always good’.
“This will maintain my interest in NGO governance that I covered in my honours thesis on anti-human trafficking NGO ideology at the India/Nepal border.”