Melbourne Development Circle’s Emerging Professionals Networking event
Wednesday 24th November, 2021 – 6pm – 8.30pm (AEDT)

At MDC, we believe that development practice is complex, dynamic and cannot be done alone. We foster a culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing between people and organisations from different sectors through creating inclusive, high-quality networking events. We recognise the importance of professional circles and peer networks to promote career prospects, especially in the rapidly changing development landscape, which has been further disrupted due to COVID-19. 

This event aims to provide early career professionals in the development sector the chance to connect and gain career advice through small break out groups, facilitated by experienced development professionals (Advisors) who have navigated career transitions and forged their own career pathways – spanning academia, government, and private/not for profit development organisations, internationally and across Australia. 

Please join us for the opportunity to connect and build peer professional networks. We can’t wait to meet you all in-person and get to know you beyond the screen over a glass of wine!

What you can expect:

  • Opportunity to connect with up to 3 advisors in small facilitated breakout groups

Key topics our advisors will cover:

  • Insights on how they navigated their own career path
  • Advice on emerging industry trends
  • Support to answer your burning questions about your own professional journey


Date: Wednesday 24th November, 2021
Time: 6 – 8.30pm (AEDT)
Location: The Emerald Peacock
Cost: $20-$30 + booking fee

*As a voluntary organisation, MDC has ongoing costs, and as such we would greatly appreciate financial contributions in order to keep providing events such as this to the benefit of our community.

Advisor Bios

Rukmini Babu, Social Enterprise Development Officer at Impact Investing Australia

Rukmini has experience working in the start-up community with social enterprises and not-for-profits. She shares an extensive passion for creating sustainable pathways to deliver transformative social impact outcomes, and aspires to empower local leaders in grassroots communities to break through the cycle of disadvantage.

Rukmini brings experience in impact measurement and evaluation and community capacity building, and holds a Master’s qualification in International Development from RMIT. Rukmini is the Social Enterprise Development Officer at Impact Investing Australia and alongside this role, Rukmini also leads the impact team at Humanism Global, a social enterprise focusing on the economic empowerment of communities in poverty.

Hedda Ngan, Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Manager at ygap

Hedda began her social impact journey as a volunteer in Sweden tutoring refugee students. Their lives and stories sent her on a path back to Melbourne where she spent the next six years in program and stakeholder engagement roles in the forced migration program at Australian Red Cross. After finishing her Red Cross chapter through a last volunteer assignment in Mongolia, Hedda returned to study a Master of Social Impact with Swinburne University. She then tried out a couple of different roles within the social impact consulting space in Australia and Hong Kong, before finding her niche in monitoring and evaluation at ygap

Thenu Herath, CEO of Oaktree

Thenu Herath is the CEO of Oaktree, Australia’s largest youth-run international development agency. She oversees youth empowerment and leadership projects across the Asia Pacific that support young people to lead, demand and create change in their communities. She has previously worked with World Vision, Teach for Australia and the Australian Institute of International Affairs while completing studies in Politics and Law. 

Ian Hamm, Chair of the Board of Directors at First Nations Foundation

Ian has extensive government and indigenous community sector experience. A Yorta Yorta man, Ian has had a wide level of exposure to policy development and program management within health, economic and community development through his work with both Victorian and Federal Governments. He is now devoting himself to improving the representation of Aboriginal people on boards and other high level governance, through strategic action, advocacy and mentoring.

Kathryn Harries, WASH consultant & PhD Candidate, Centre for Humanitarian Leadership

Kathryn is a WASH Specialist with over 20 years experience in humanitarian, development and Australian contexts. She has worked for organisations including UNICEF, Australian Red Cross, managing contractors, as well as as an independent consultant. Her roles have included Somalia WASH Cluster Coordinator, Knowledge and Learning Manager for the DFAT-funded Civil Society WASH Fund and working with governments and organisations to develop a handbook for Emergency WASH response in the Pacific. She is also an Associate Trainer for RedR Australia. Training on their Essentials of Humanitarian Practice and WASH in Emergencies courses. Kathryn is currently completing a PhD with the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership at Deakin University, developing a practical guide to empower technical field teams to achieve a more effective response.