From UQ to the UN: Amra Naidoo gives her top tips for crafting a successful career and Doing Good

3 July 2017

At just 27-years-old, Amra Naidoo (Bachelor of Arts (International Relations) ’12, Bachelor of Business Management ’12) has had a whirlwind career working across borders with one of the world’s largest international organisations.

The former Head of Partnerships at United Nations Women Singapore and founder of the popular podcast The Doing Good Podcast recently sat down with eNews to reveal her top tips for succeeding in a competitive field and making a career out of helping businesses be sustainable and responsible.


Q: What advice would you give to other young people thinking of pursuing a similar career?

“Just say yes.”

“Just try things, because honestly, that is how I have gotten to where I am, I just put my hand up and said yes, even when I thought there was no chance I could succeed,” said Miss Naidoo.

“One thing that has changed the way I thought about things is my fiancé asking me what my worst case scenario was and for me, that was living back with my parents in a job I didn’t like. In the end, there are much worse things that could happen, and that’s not a bad worst case, so I took the chance.”


Q: What has been the highlight of your career so far?

“My time at UN Women Singapore was the highlight of my career so far because I found my passion,” said Miss Naidoo.

“Even though I am no longer with them I am now more focused on what it is I want to achieve with my work.

“That being said, I like many other young people have worked in jobs that I didn’t like that don’t fulfil me and I actually think there’s a lot of value in that as well.

“Being in a job you don’t like helps you to realise exactly what you do and don’t want from your career and the lengths that you’re willing to go to as a person.

“I have anxiety and depression, which I manage now. However I have been in dark places with that especially when I was working in jobs that didn’t align with my ethics or ideals.

“I am a huge advocate for mental health awareness, and I have a lot of people who reach out to me to ask about the techniques I use to manage,” she said.


Q: How did you get your role at UN Women Singapore?

“I was at a place after I finished study, where I wanted to try something new. One of my friends who was moving to Singapore encouraged me to move as well, and I thought okay, what have I really got to lose?,” said Ms Naidoo.

“I started an internship with UN Women Singapore and they told me flat out I would not get a job out of it, which I was okay with.

“However, a month in, my manager resigned and I applied for her job which was looking after Project Inspire,” she said.

“To my surprise, they gave me the role and after the project was complete, they created a role for me as Head of Partnerships.

“I did that for almost four years before I went on to start my podcast The Doing Good Podcast.”


Q: How did your studies at UQ prepare you for the work that you have done?

“It would have to be the connections that I made here at UQ,” said Miss Naidoo.

“The connections I made at UQ have helped me with changing careers, moving country and getting settled.

“I don’t think I would have had the courage to step out into a new country without the relationships I made at UQ during my time studying here and living at International House.”


Q: What drove you to create your podcast, The Doing Good Podcast?

“When I was working at UN Women Singapore, I was constantly meeting exceptional people throughout the world who were driving impact in different ways.

“I would come home at night and chew my fiancé’s ear off, talking about the incredible things these people were doing and so one night he suggested that I should turn this into something to share with others,” said Miss Naidoo.

“I liked the format of podcasts because they’re intimate, it’s like you’re eavesdropping on a conversation and there isn’t the same pressure as a written or formal news channel.

“So it’s a wonderful way to get people to open up about their work and what they’re passionate about.

“Another reason I started the podcast was to inspire other young people.

“I think I was quite lucky in the steps that I took to discover what I was passionate about. I think I was always inclined towards business and social purpose because of what I studied, but it took me a while to realise how deep the connections between the two could be.

“I want to make this process easier for other to recognise as well. I want them to be able to see that they can do good and work for a corporation at the same time,” said Miss Naidoo.

“No matter what career trajectory you take, it is possible to contribute positively to society.”


Q: Your podcast focuses quite a bit on sharing information about how stakeholders or individuals can make a real impact on the ground - why is this?

“Working at UN Women Singapore with businesses but still for a non-profit gave me fantastic insight into the impact that business can have in the community,” said Miss Naidoo.

 “Business is the best and most effective way to drive impact.”

“Business objectives can be tied to doing good, many people think these aren’t related, but the reality is that if we’re not in a healthy sustainable world, your business won’t succeed.

“So what we’re seeing now is that purpose is becoming more ingrained in business.


Q: What is your fondest memory of your time at UQ?

“There are just so many fond memories that I have from my time at UQ, that it’s hard to select just one.

“I would have to say, in particular, the experience of living on campus, meeting new people, especially during O-Week was a highlight for me.

“I met some of my closest friends, who I still have to this day and I think will be lifelong friends.

“You have friends anywhere in the world, absolutely anywhere.”

“I also met my fiancé through International House and we’ve just celebrated 10-years together.”


You can listen to Miss Naidoo’s podcast, The Doing Good Podcast here.