Who am I? Kathryn Zealand
Where am I? Sydney, NSW, and Nigeria
What’s my thing? Physics, maths, human rights, improving economies, living in developing countries
International business analyst and management consultant Kathryn Zealand credits her mother’s ability to make seemingly mundane tasks such as cooking interesting as important for helping her to develop a curious and analytical mind.
“When we were little, Mum would ask my brother and I to do little cooking challenges … and when we asked how something worked there would always be a scientific answer,” she says.
“Parents don’t need a lot of knowledge to instil curiosity into their children. They just need to sprinkle a little love of learning into everything they do.”
Kathryn says she also had some great teachers who encouraged investigative learning, but even so, turning an enthusiasm for mathematics and science into results still took a lot of hard work.
Before the 2007 Asian Physics Olympiad in Shanghai, China – where she placed first among the female competitors – Kathryn spent four hours every night after school studying.
After completing a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and physics when she was also in her final year of secondary school, and a Master of Science in theoretical physics two years later, she was on track for a career as an academic.
However, her life took a different route when she decided she wanted to help people in developing countries. This led to a stint in human rights, helping lawyers at the International Criminal Court in Belgium.
Kathryn now works as a business analyst with an international management consultancy, and is currently on assignment in Nigeria, looking at how to improve its economy.
“I love my job because I learn something new every day. I work with amazing people and have the opportunity to solve complex and difficult problems.”
Adapted from Australia’s Future – a free ebook profiling some of the brightest stars in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics.