Do your Best Today, Tomorrow Will Look After Itself
Lily (Year 7) and Annabel Taylor (Year 5), commenced at St Catherine’s this year. Lily has already shown a keen interest in a range of sporting opportunities; in particular, tennis and hockey while Annabel has made a wonderful transition to St Catherine’s, developing a circle of friends who welcome her bubbly approach and compassionate actions. Old Girl, past School Captain and mother to Lily and Annabel, Melissa Sweetland (‘86) is Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President Engagement at RMIT University.
What advice do you offer Lily and Annabel about their education and future career choices?
I have always believed if you do your best today, tomorrow will look after itself. It is a philosophy I have encouraged in all that they do – I am more than happy to support them in any endeavour, all I ask is that they try their hardest. I really do not mind if they are not particularly good, as long as they try and are supportive of those around them. I also believe being involved in sport from an early age is essential. It encourages teamwork and leadership, it helps children appreciate winning and losing and allows them to see the benefit of hard work. It also demonstrates that diverse skills are essential for success.
What have been some of the biggest obstacles in your career and what advice would you give Lily and Annabel about overcoming similar challenges?
The biggest challenge was returning to work after having the girls and the mother’s guilt that entailed. For every parent, that challenge manifests in slightly different ways – but the guilt and sheer exhaustion are challenges we all share.
My advice would be to find a boss who believes in you – and who is grateful to you every day. Do not stress about whether you work full-time, part-time or not at all – as long as you are happy and your children know they are loved, they will be fine.
How do you believe your career has influenced Lily and Annabel?
I think they have seen the value of thoughtful leadership and the importance of a genuine team. In the role I enjoyed for the first 10 years of their lives, I had the most incredible CEO and a wonderful team – all of whom became an extension of our family. The girls became part of that team helping at events, fundraisers and appearing in collateral, they spent quite a bit of time in my office.
What have Lily and Annabel achieved that are you most proud of?
This year we have expected so much from them – they moved from a small country school to Melbourne. They had to make new friends, join a new hockey club, leave the farm and their pets behind – and most difficult of all leave their Dad back on the farm while we spend most of the term in Melbourne. They have adapted, in fact flourished, better than we could have ever hoped. While the broader St Catherine’s community has been overwhelmingly welcoming, the girls’ determination to make the most of this opportunity has been key to their enjoyment. That said, most of all I am proud of their kind hearts and inclusive natures.
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt from your daughters?
Lily and Annabel inspire me every day. They are kind, determined, ambitious, thoughtful and importantly inclusive. While Lily is as competitive as the next person, she is a team player and she genuinely celebrates the success of others and looks out for others, even when it is at her own expense. Annabel is wise beyond her years and recognises the value in friendship above all else.
Why did you choose St Catherine’s for Lily and Annabel?
In all the schools we considered, academic excellence is a given, it is how that is wrapped up and delivered that matters most. St Catherine’s demonstrated the strong leadership and nurturing environment which were of utmost importance to me. I want my girls to grow up to be caring and inclusive in whatever they decide to do and St Catherine’s values align with that.
Being an Old Girl, and the girls being the third generation at St Catherine’s, was an added bonus.
Lily and Annabel
What can you tell us about your mother’s work?
Lily Mum has always had a busy job, but the part I have liked the most is that she includes us where she can – we have helped out at charity events, trade shows, field days and even been in advertisements.
Annabel: Mum has always worked in the kindest teams – they are really nice to Lily and I. Mum went back to work when I was really little. She told her boss she did not want to return, but he wanted her to so he suggested I come too. I do not remember it, but Mum told me that I went to work with her every day and even to board meetings. When she had to go away to a conference with her boss, he took his wife along to babysit me while they went to the meetings.
What do you hope to do when you finish school?
Lily: I really enjoy Maths and Art and would like to do something where I can use both – maybe architecture and interior design.
Annabel: That is a long way away. For now, I just need to work hard so I have lots of choices.
What advice does your mother give you about school and study?
Lily: Mum has always reminded me to be organised and to do my best.
Annabel: Work hard and get your homework done before you relax. Also to treat others as you want to be treated.
What are some of the things your mother has achieved that you are most proud of?
Lily: When Mum moved to Dad’s farm she had a new baby and did not know anyone. It was also the middle of the drought. She left her friends and family behind. That must have been really hard, but she turned the farm into a beautiful home for us, made lots of new friends and had many Melbourne friends and family visit. I am also quite proud that she was School Captain during her time at St Catherine’s.
Annabel: Mum has always worked full-time, and she hardly ever misses our events. She seems to juggle a lot, but she has always said being a farmer’s wife was the toughest job. She is kind and always helping others, she is caring to everyone.
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt from your mother?
Lily: Try your hardest. The outcome does not matter, as long as you have done the best you can.
Annabel: Be yourself