Scholar insights – Sonia Di Mezza
As the Chief Executive Officer of Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services Sonia Di Mezza helps deliver essential services, strengthen communities and provide a platform for people from multicultural backgrounds to be seen, heard, prosper, and become part of the community. Sonia is a lifelong learner who embraces any opportunity to enrich her life with learning and supporting other enquiring minds. We ask Sonia 5 questions about her leadership journey to date.
Sonia was the recipient of the Kaplan Business School Masters of Business Administration scholarship in 2019.
Q1. How has professional development been part of your success?
I have worked for the past 25 years in the not-for-profit sector, both in Australia and overseas. My focus has predominately been on supporting people to exercise their human rights. I was the Deputy CEO of a disability advocacy NGO for 8 years. I decided I wanted to take my leadership to a new level and become a CEO. I realized I needed to educate myself on that journey, but MBAs are expensive and hard to fund in the not-for-profit sector. I came across the advertisement that the Australian Scholarships Foundation was circulating about scholarships to study MBAs at Kaplan Business School. I applied and successfully won a scholarship.
The Kaplan Business School MBA has been a valuable tool in my senior executive journey. The learnings are excellent, the lecturers are knowledgeable and inspired, and everything I have learned to date has been applicable and relevant to my work as a CEO.
I have completed seven subjects to date and have three more to go before I graduate. I am now the CEO of Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services, located in Bendigo, Central Victoria. The MBA continues to provide me with the knowledge I need in order to strive to be the very best CEO and leader, that I can be
Q2. What resources would you share with other not-for-profit leaders
My biggest learning is the importance of continuous improvement in the leadership journey. Never rest on your laurels, always strive to learn more and educate yourself. Being a CEO is unlike any other job I have had. It is challenging but when you get it right, it’s the most rewarding role. I love my job. Being able to pursue my MBA studies at Kaplan has made the journey one where I am continually improving and strengthening my leadership schools.
Q3. How do you support your staff?
It is important as a CEO that you are able to support and lead your team in times of crisis. This is something that many leaders have learned during the crisis times of the pandemic. Touching base with your staff, having coffee with them, and being there for them is the very way of motivating and leading with integrity and by example.
Q4. What skills do you think leaders need to build to tackle current challenges?
Leaders need to have integrity, they need to be supportive of their staff and willing to stand by them during times of adversity, and they need to be able to lead by example in order to build credibility. A clear vision for where you want to take the organisation is fundamental.
Q5. What did you find most valuable in your scholarship studies?
Being able to connect with professionals, both lecturers and fellow students, who have expertise in leadership and management, has been fundamental. In times of the constant lockdowns, attending an online lecture with students throughout Australia was invaluable and served to help boost morale in challenging times.
The learnings of my MBA have been profound. Studying for your MBA at Kaplan Business School was well worth the effort, and is one of the most valuable learning journeys I have ever embarked upon in my life.
Kaplan Deans Award Winner
Sonia is currently completing her MBA scholarship studies with Kaplan Business School. In July she was awarded the Kaplan Business School Dean’s Award. Winners are ‘awarded a 50% scholarship for the remainder of their current course’ and ‘are determined based on academic performance and overall contribution to the KBS community.’
The Dean Prof. James Adonopoulos noted in the Winners Announcement that Sonia attained a High Distinction for every subject she has thus far completed. He noted, “as a qualified human rights lawyer, particularly for refugees and migrant communities in general, Sonia has delivered related presentations to her peers and is a trusted source of personalised pro bono legal advice. Sonia also serves as the Student Representative on our influential Teaching and Learning Committee.”
“With her trademark generosity, Sonia has acknowledged she is already a scholarship recipient and has therefore requested that the 50% reduction in her tuition fees be gifted to the most highly commended runner-up. That individual is Karyne Fung who is enrolled in our Master of Business Analytics (Extension)”, Professor Adonopoulos shared.
Sonia Di Mezza is the Chief Executive Officer of Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services.
Sonia is the daughter of Italian migrants, who migrated to Australia in the 1950s. She is a human rights lawyer and solicitor and has set up a legal aid project in the camps of Khartoum, Sudan; set up a human rights project in Pakistan for Afghan widowed refugee women and their children; worked as a Resettlement Consultant for UNHCR in Lebanon; worked for a child labour rights NGO in India for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Kailash Satyarthi; and as a refugee lawyer in Australia.
Her most recent roles include Deputy CEO of a disability advocacy NGO in the ACT; CEO of a domestic violence NGO in the ACT; and Deputy Chair of the ACT Ministerial Advisory Council of Multicultural Affairs. Sonia is the co-author of a book relating to the memoir of an Indian woman who contracted HIV in an arranged marriage.
Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services
Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services currently employs 15 part-time staff and has over 30 volunteers. Staff are highly experienced and speak a number of community languages, including Karen, Dinka, Dari, Farsi, Hazaraghi, Malayalam, Spanish, Mandarin, Bahasa Malaysia, Hakka, Bahasa Indonesian, French, Italian and Arabic.
Congrats to all our scholarship recipients in 2022
A big congratulations to all the not-for-profit scholarship applicants awarded scholarships in 2022.
How Ginny’s studies help her support her team
Read Ginny Steven’s story. As CEO and Founder of Active Farmers Ginny has found her studies help her be a better leader to support the passionate staff in her life-changing not-for-profit.