Meet Dr Susan David

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Name: Dr Susan David
Work: Psychologist, Harvard Medical School and Co-founder, Institute of Coaching, a McLean/Harvard Medical School Affiliate
University: University of Melbourne
Lives: Boston, USA
Award: 2017 Advance Global Australian Education Award

Describe what you do and why it’s important in one sentence.
My work focuses on one key question: what does it take to deal with our thoughts and emotions to enable us to thrive in the world? This is an important question right now because we are facing unprecedented complexity with globalisation, technological changes, and political instability.

What would you say is the most challenging and rewarding aspect of your job?
I get letters from people who are experiencing grief, or job loss, or illness or even just feeling stuck in their careers; these people find my ideas liberating and useful and practical. For me, that is the most rewarding aspect of my job. The most challenging aspect is the space I work in; a space where it becomes difficult to sift through all the popular media of the “think positives” and if you have a good attitude, everything will be fine. There’s a huge amount of those kinds of platitudes that are popular, that are now nice-sounding, and that actually can be fairly hurtful to people.

What would you say has been a career highlight for you?
Career highlights for me are being asked to speak at TEDWomen and publishing my book – that book going to number one on the Wall Street Journal and hitting the bestseller list.

Do you gravitate towards Australians while you’re abroad?
I have a deep affinity to Australians. When I see someone in a Facebook group who’s Australian I’m automatically connected, or when I go to New York, I’ll always seek out if there’s an Australian coffee shop.

What does winning the 2017 Advance Global Australian Education Award mean to you?
This award is an incredible honour for me. When I first arrived in Boston, I came over on an Australian Fellowship that was supported by Australia. I remember us arriving in Cambridge and we went to this tiny little coffee shop.  There was a little Australian “get-together” pin-board. I immediately went home and registered on the website, and had this immediate sense of relief that I had found such a supportive network so far away from home, where I was forging something new and different.  Now fast-forward many years; having my work recognised is an incredible honour, but I think beyond that it helps to firstly give back to Australia, especially in terms of the mentorship program. It allows me to contribute back to Australia, which has given me invaluable support throughout my career. Awards of this nature; they start giving a particular level of attention to one’s work.

What is your one piece of advice for someone wanting to write a book?
My one piece of advice for someone who wanted to write a book is that it feels scary, but that’s just like any other task or goal that one wants to accomplish in life. It takes an enormous amount of commitment and discipline.

What’s the first thing you do after returning to Australia after a period of time away?
It is very predictable. I go to whatever hotel I’m in, I drop my luggage off, immediately go for a good breakfast!

Meet Dr Susan David, the 2017 Advance Global Australian Education Award Winner.

Meet Dr Susan David, Psychologist, Harvard Medical School and Co-founder, Institute of Coaching, a McLean/Harvard Medical School Affiliate

Helen Gillies accepting the 2017 Advance Global Australian Education Award on behalf of Dr Susan David