At 17 years old, Renee Stafleu left her rural home town for the bright lights of Brisbane. What followed was an important journey of self-discovery. Today, she’s a dedicated mother of two, and a well-respected Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Manager at USQ. Her aim at home and at work? To help others find their place in the world, whoever they are and wherever they’re from.
Small town, big dreams
Renee Stafleu grew up in Mitchell, a regional Queensland town with a current population of just over 1,000 people. She loved the country life but knew she wanted to explore new horizons. That aspiration could have been thwarted when she fell off her horse and suffered a traumatic brain injury. However, Renee was determined to prove to herself that she was still capable despite her injuries. Just twelve months later, she left Mitchell to study law in Brisbane, becoming the first in her family to attend university.
'That was a big move. Brisbane was a big change and I was still getting back on my feet. A lot of my family didn’t understand why I wanted to go to the city - it wasn’t the natural progression. However, I wanted a career and I was okay with being different. I have always tried to be brave and do what feels like the best choice for me - and be confident with who I am.'
After exploring pathways in commerce and business, Renee discovered a passion for Human Resources. She went on to carve out a career in this space, while also taking some time out to raise her two children.
Motherhood, meaning and a career at USQ
Renee says the challenge of parenting shaped her view of herself and the world around her.
'When I first had my daughter, I realised I had been defining myself by my role. Suddenly, being at home for 14 months on maternity leave, I didn’t have that validation. It felt like “ground-hog day” for a long time. I am an outcome-driven person, but I felt like I wasn’t achieving each day. I struggled with that, and so I started working in the behavioural profiling and emotional intelligence space. Over time, I’ve come to understand that there are many things that define you as a person. Every day, you are a different version of yourself because you grew from the day before. I did an accreditation in emotional intelligence which helped me discover my strengths, and how I could help others.'
In her diverse career, Renee has worked for USQ twice! Her first role was as Senior HR Officer from 2009 to 2013. In 2016, Renee came back to us to specialise in Diversity and Inclusion and is now our D&I Manager. She says that here, she has found an employer that upholds her values and allows her to achieve - at work and at home.
'I decided to return to USQ because I feel most empowered to make an impact here. There are so many confident and capable people who value knowledge and education - I’m always learning something and everyone has something to offer. I also have flexible working hours and am able to pick up my kids from school – that’s important time for me. I can show my kids that not only can you have a career – but you can be a mum too.'
Advice for your career journey
Renee offers three valuable pieces of advice for other people embarking on a career journey of their own.
- Try different things – don’t be afraid.
- Understand what drives you and what will give you a sense of fulfilment.
- Remember your roots: relationships are the most important thing in our lives.
She sums it up simply and powerfully:
'We are responsible for every choice we make and we have control over our decisions. It’s important to be adventurous and to find what fulfils you. However, growing up in a small community helped me understand the importance of staying connected with home and maintaining relationships along the way.'
Renee has achieved that balance, and feels she has found her place at USQ.
'To connect through knowledge feeds my soul. USQ aligns with my values of fairness, equality and integrity. It’s the best fit for who I am.'
Find out more about current career opportunities and what it’s like to work at USQ.