Jacqui Ooi is on a mission to inspire women to take huge leaps in their careers and achieve their goals. This time last year, she released the first episode of her podcast What She Did Next — a show that interviews a diverse range of Australian women about their fascinating career stories, their backgrounds, and the journey they took to successfully change their careers.
This week, she’s launched season three.
When so many of us are considering changes to our careers in the last 12 months, this podcast is a must for anyone flirting with the idea of taking their passion and embarking on a new direction.
And on Women’s Agenda, we’re incredibly proud to be supporting it, partnering with the What She Did Next podcast to help further share these important stories and get more women’s voices heard.
Past episodes include interviews with co-founder of online job platform DivTal, Lorna Deng, Indigenous lawyer Cara Peek, chef and author Hetty McKinnon and CEO of Women for Election Australia, Licia Heath.
Embracing change has been a common tendency for all these women, and Jacqui Ooi was no different. Her unique trajectory has spanned two decades across the media industry and NGO sector.
Ooi began her career as a journalist and editor after graduating from the University of Technology, Sydney with a degree in communications. She moved to Canada to take on a role as the Head of PR at the Green Party of British Columbia, before working as a communications manager at prominent NGOs including ChildFund Australia and The Smith Family. Throughout her diverse career, she has interviewed individuals across the spectrum, including politicians, celebrities, writers and sportspeople.
In this week’s episode, she interviews disability advocate and fashion blogger, Jenny McAllister.
McAllister is the founder of StyleAbility, an online platform where she educates and collaborates with the fashion and retail industry on inclusion and accessibility for people with a disability within mainstream fashion.
At the age of 21, she suffered a massive brain stem haemorrhage and subsequent stroke, and was placed on life support. She then suffered from locked in syndrome, where she was unable to move her limbs or talk. She could only communicate through the blinking of her eyes.
“I realised that there must be other people who, like me, love fashion and also happen to have a disability but don’t have access to the clothes they want to wear or see anyone look like them in advertising campaigns, on social media or in fashion magazines,” she says.
“I spent a total of 18 months in hospital both in acute care and rehabilitation,” she said. “I literally had to learn to do everything again from talking to walking, even being able to move my fingers and toes. It has been a very long and often tough journey of recovery, growth and self-discovery.”
When Ooi asked McAllister what advice she’d give budding career changers, McAllister responded with some wise words of advice. “You’re never going to be ready. Just start. Once you start, you are constantly learning. Have the confidence to back yourself and believe in what you’re doing.”
“We’re all about women making brave choices to tread their own paths, live adventurous lives and make a positive difference in the world,” Ooi says.
“If you’re on the cusp of a new chapter yourself, we hope you hear something in these conversations that inspires your next move.”
Follow Ooi on Instagram or Facebook @whatshedidnextpodcast, and listen across all the major podcast platforms and the episode link on Acast.