Weddin Council general manager Noreen Vu has been recognised as a finalist in Asialink's prestigious Asian-Australian Leadership Awards.
Breaking down cultural barriers and defying the alarming lack of ethnic diversity in Australian workplaces, Ms Vu has emerged as a beacon of hope and inspiration for many.
Recent research from the Australian National University (ANU) has exposed a stark under-representation of Asian-Australians in key leadership roles across the country.
The data applies not only to corporate boardrooms but also to top-level management positions within the public service, where individuals face discouragingly low promotion prospects throughout their careers, regardless of their origin.
The statistics paint a disheartening picture: employees from English-speaking backgrounds enjoy a staggering 30% higher likelihood of ascending to senior analyst positions, a 40% advantage in attaining managerial roles, and a staggering 60% edge in reaching senior executive service levels.
As the first under-40, Vietnamese, female Local Government general manager in any local council in Australia, Ms Vu is charting uncharted territory.
"I feel very honoured to be recognised as one of the Top 40 most Influential Asian-Australian Leaders in Australia. I felt that it recognises my cultural upbringing and honours my parents and how they raised my brother and I," Ms Vu said.
"I am very chuffed. I was shopping with my mum when I was told I was a finalist. The first person I called was my partner and then the mayor," she said.
"For me personally overcoming some perception of my appearance and my experience have been challenging."
Ms Vu's tenure is marked by a fierce dedication to revitalizing the council's image, particularly in the wake of challenges posed by the town's Main Street Project.
"Professionally, challenges with the council having had some significant governance challenges and I have been working through setting up systems and frameworks," Ms Vu said.
"Financial sustainability is a challenge for all councils across the state. And working through this on a day-to-day basis to try and focus on longer term strategies is a challenge in itself. But we are working through it as a team.
"It's been far more challenging than I anticipated before I accepted the job. But again we are working through these challenges as a team and I have enjoyed the culture change in the organisation despite the growing workload, cost shifting from the state and federal governments and limited resources."
Ms Vu's remarkable journey has earned her a finalist spot in Asialink's prestigious Asian-Australian Leadership Awards, set to take place on November 15.
Since 2019, Johnson Partners and Asialink have jointly convened these awards, formerly known as the '40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards', with a shared vision to honour outstanding leadership and contributions of Asian-Australians.
The event, now in its fifth year, seeks to confront and dismantle the "bamboo ceiling" that has long hindered the ascent of Asian-Australians into leadership positions.
As communities, companies, and governments grapple with the evolving challenges of the future, Ms Vu's journey stands as a testament to the immense potential and contributions of the Asian-Australian community.
Her determination and leadership serve as a powerful reminder that the time for change is now, and that progress is within reach.