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Meet Sash

Meet Sash, Oaktree's New CEO

By Sashenka Worsman
Chief Executive Officer
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Much of my journey and reason for being began to reveal itself as an eight year old growing up in war torn Sri Lanka. While I was raised in a relatively privileged family, I still saw first-hand what it meant to live in poverty and fear.

I often wondered why I ate different food than the girl I used to play with on the street. One day as I left for school, I noticed that she didn’t, and it bothered me. I asked my father why she was staying at home and he said that her parents must need her to work or could not afford to send her that day. Something about this just didn’t feel right to me.

 Sash has just began her role as CEO of Oaktree

While I often felt helpless and overwhelmed as a young girl and woman growing up in Sri Lanka, I always did what I could and vowed that one day I would be part of seeing a world where such injustices were a thing of history. I wanted to live in a world where treating others as you wish to be treated was second nature. Everything I have done in the last 16 years of my life has been done with the hope of seeing this vision become a reality.

So you will understand why a phone call I received in December will likely be one I will never forget.

In 2009 I moved to Australia, a bright new world full of opportunity and unknowns. I came into the middle of year 12 (which was daunting to say the least) and experienced what it felt like to be the ‘other’. Not only was I new to the school, but I was also a person of colour who ‘spoke a bit weird’. However, this is also where I learnt the value of kindness and being open.

Sash speaking at the "She Leads" conference, Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)

My first year of university was when I truly found out what was possible. I enrolled in a double degree in Law and International Studies and was on track to ‘one day make a difference’. That was until a friend of mine introduced me to the fulfillment and opportunity for change that comes with volunteering for a worthy cause. It was then that I realised I didn’t have to ‘one day’ make a difference, but that today could be that day.

Ever since, I’ve immersed myself into volunteering and working for several organisations, most recently filling the role of National Director at World Vision Australia’s youth movement VGen. Being part of one of the world’s largest development organisations, I learned that success and challenges come with great size and growth. More important than this to me however, was the constant reminder I received of the often-untapped potential that can come from working for change with and through young people.

Sash in Uganda, collecting stories for Campaign For Australian Aid

Now, back to that phone call…

In December, I received a call that just about made me pop. It was the Chair of the Board telling me I was going to be the new CEO of Oaktree, and today I am writing my first blog post!

Why am I so excited to be working at Oaktree? Because I see this role as the next part of that journey I began as an eight-year-old. More importantly, because I am confident that young people are the key to ending poverty and that Oaktree is the organisation that will lead a movement towards this goal. 

Not only is Oaktree the right size to be agile enough to take opportunities when they present themselves, but we will utilise technology and the power of human connection to remind people of what’s important again. And by doing this wholeheartedly, there is no doubt we will play a significant role in ending poverty within our lifetime.

Want to keep reading? Check out Coffee or Change: Challenging the Future of Poverty