Donisha Duff

Donisha Duff

Image: Jackson Canuto

Master of Business Administration (MBA) (2013)

Donisha Duff is the Chief Operating Officer at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health. She is a Member of the College of Experts of the Australian Research Council and holds a number of Ministerial Board appointments. Donisha is a founding member and Chair of the Stars Foundation Ltd, a not-for-profit providing school-based engagement programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women.

Donisha is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. She has familial links with Moa and Badu Islands (Torres Strait) and is a Yadhaigana/Wuthathi Aboriginal traditional owner (Cape York). Donisha possesses a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Griffith University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the Australian National University.

Donisha’s career advice to current CBE students

What has been the trickiest interview question you’ve ever been asked?

I’ve always found the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 and/or 10 years” kind of pointless.

Careers are rarely linear or with the same company anymore. Certainly, if my experience is anything to go by, I’ve tended to change jobs every 3 to 4 years to gain new skills and experience. This wasn’t a conscious decision. It’s also not something a recruiter wants to hear in an interview. The more experience I gained, the more I wanted to challenge myself and looked for opportunities to fulfil that.

Working towards a career goal has much more endurance and is the narrative to bring all these choices and experiences together. I want to make a difference in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. I think my career to date has been a rich and lively tapestry of work experience and settings, all which have given me a wide network of contacts and definitely set me apart from other candidates.

What is your advice on employment and career development today?

There are many things beyond your control that can impact your career. Case and point is the impact that COVID-19 is having on enormous sections of our economy. Many businesses have either shut down, scaled back or majorly redesigned their delivery models. The latter has been my experience, which has required a rethink of how we use and redeploy our staff not just during the pandemic, but also looking at redesigned delivery that will stay.

The best thing you can do is to ensure you have the right knowledge, skills, experience and networks that are transferable and valuable to employers/managers/Boards. This will enable you to weather through any economic and employment downturns.

How do you wind down after a busy day at work?

In my previous jobs, I was working long hours and in some really demanding environments. I used to go to the gym after work or run around Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra and/ or do yoga to unwind mentally and physically. That was before I had my son.

My son helps to ground me. He’s very active and a different kind of demanding. Having a child keeps me focused on what’s really important in life – family and making his future better as the next generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.