Anna Rose. 'Real conversations' on hot issues

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Anna Rose Supplied by Anna Rose

Anna Rose is currently the National Manager for Earth Hour with WWF-Australia and the Australian Geographic Society's Conservationist of the Year 2015.  She is an author and co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and was recently a finalist in the ACT Australian of the Year awards.

Anna Rose is used to being in the limelight but the year-long Sydney Leadership program prepared her for one of her most formidable challenges yet: spending four weeks on a trip around the world in 2011 with former finance minister Nick Minchin attempting to help him accept the science of climate change.

The  ABC screened a documentary on the trip and a special panel discussion on climate change hosted by Q&A’s Tony Jones. The documentary was followed by the launch of Anna’s book  Madlands: A Journey to Change the Mind of a Climate Sceptic  (MUP, 2012) which started as a diary of the trip in late 2011.
Anna says Social Leadership Australia-style concepts appear throughout the book.

"The journey I went on with Sydney Leadership was important in developing some of the skills and tools I used on the trip around the world with Nick Minchin, in a way that allowed me to hold the issue of climate change lightly enough to function effectively.”

On her journey with the former Coalition power broker, Anna drew on an exercise from the Sydney Leadership Opening Retreat, where she learned to remain mindful of her biases and assumptions. The result was a number of what we, at Social Leadership Australia, would call “real conversations”: Nick Minchin detailed his interest in renewable energy and Anna experienced what she calls 'a steep learning curve' about the worldview at the heart of climate skepticism.

Anna says Social Leadership Australia’s Sydney Leadership program gave her a critical opportunity to reflect on her work and, importantly, to benefit from a structured leadership development experience.

“[Sydney Leadership] was my first formal training in leadership. At the time I had spent 14 years in activism, including setting up the Australian Youth Climate Coalition when I was at Uni, and it’s pretty much a field where you learn on-the-job. It’s quite rare for people to have formal leadership training,” Anna says.

“I truly believe that if everyone in Australia had the chance to get to the same level of maturity and self-reflection that Sydney Leadership prompts its participants to reach, we’d be having a much saner discussion about climate change in this country.”

Since graduating from Sydney Leadership Anna has been a University lecturer (co-convening the Vice-Chancellor’s course in Leadership & Influence at ANU), continued her campaign work, and for the past two years headed up Earth Hour with WWF-Australia. For the past twelve months she has been working closely with a large group farmers from across Australia to highlight the impact of climate change on agriculture and Aussie food.

Part of this work included editing and publishing a first-of-its-kind cookbook, Planet to Plate, that brought together stories from 60 farmers with 55 recipes from celebrity chefs and science content from the University of Melbourne about the impact rising temperatures and more extreme weather is having on the ingredients we use everyday. All proceeds go to supporting Earth Hour’s work with schools, small businesses and community groups. Planet to plate link is

Anna has also developed a specialty in not for profit governance, sitting on boards including the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, Solar Citizens, The Bob Brown Foundation and  Oaktree’s Live Below the Line campaign.

For her work she was recently recognised as one of the three finalists in the ACT Australian of the Year awards, and was given the “Conservationist of the Year” title by Australian Geographic. She is now a board member of the Australian Geographic Society.

The Sydney Morning Herald named her one of Sydney's 100 most influential people, and she was named one of Cosmo magazine's Top 30 Women under 30. Anna is a former Churchill Fellow and a recipient of the Sierra Club's
Earthcare award for her services to international environmental protection.

While Anna’s work has allowed her to work alongside celebrities from His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Bindi Irwin, she says that Sydney Leadership taught her that everyone, no matter their role, can exercise leadership.

“I mentor a lot of young people and run a lot of trainings, and always make sure to reference the concept of adaptive leadership. I stress that leadership is something you DO rather than something you ARE – which is a much more liberating concept, especially when you’re just starting a journey into social change work,” she says.

Find out more and subscribe to updates at  or follow Anna on Facebook or on twitter @annarose. If you are interested in becoming involved directly, please contact Anna by email at

Anna's next adventure starts in September 2015 when she and her husband, fellow Sydney Leadership alumni Simon Sheikh, are expecting their first child. Anna and Simon live on the north side of Canberra.