Sarah Ireland

CITY: Melbourne

Position: CEO of One Girl

What? One Girl is a not-for-profit organisation that increases girls' access to education in Sierra Leone and Uganda. We believe that education holds the power to change the world. Through supporting girls and young women to overcome the barriers they have in accessing education, we are able to create change that will impact the lives of these girls right now, and also for their children and their children's children.

One-Girl-Logo_black_transparent (1).png

How did the idea for One Girl first come about?
One Girl was founded by two people from Melbourne who were passionate about girls' education and gender equality. After meeting a girl in Uganda, Brenda, who was begging for money to pay for her school fees, they realised that what was a small amount of money for them, could mean everything to a girl like Brenda. So that's how One Girl was born; sometimes it's as simple as seeing a need and deciding to do something about it, and since then we've reached tens of thousands of girls with educational opportunities!

When did you have a ‘f*ck-it moment’ and decide you were going to go down this path?
One day when I was living in London, I was offered two jobs - one as a journalist with Reuters (once upon a time this was my dream job!) and one as a volunteer with a global aid agency. I ended up taking the volunteer position and that set me on this path to become an international aid worker and now the CEO of a girls' education charity.

What were some major challenges you had when starting your business? And how did you overcome them?
I didn't start One Girl, but as CEO, one of the major challenges I deal with is how we can maintain our revenue — so we can keep our commitment to support girls throughout their entire schooling — and how we can make our work in Sierra Leone and Uganda relevant to our supporters here at home. They're the ones who really make our work possible, so in order to help people feel a real connection with the work that we do, a lot of our communication is done through storytelling.

What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
Being told I was going to be a CEO of an international charity that focuses on girls' education. Ensuring all girls have the opportunity to go to school benefits not just that girl but benefits all those around her. Its basically a super power!

Starting a business can be gruelling - what keeps you motivated, and keeps you going?
Being a CEO of a small team that crosses time zones is hard work, but I really believe in the work that we are doing - if you educate a girl SHE can change her world.

How do you create a work-life balance?
I have a two-year-old daughter, and I am strict in ensuring that I leave work on time so I can spend some time with her each day. I am conscious about setting a good example for my team and leaving work on time, not sending emails at all hours of the night, and also ensuring that work is fun!