Ahead of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Week International Women's Day Forum and Business Seminar, we sat down with Dr Nikki Stamp, one of only 11 female heart surgeons in Australia, to find out how she got to where she is today.
As well as breaking down barriers in her own traditionally male-dominated career field, Nikki is a prominent participant in social media campaign #ILookLikeASurgeon, the host of PodcastOne’s Women with Heart - Dr Nikki Stamp and is about to release her first book, Can You Die of a Broken Heart?
Below, we chat with her about her career highlights, advice for those wanting to follow in her footsteps and navigating such a male-driven career field.
What do you think was your ‘big break’, professionally speaking?
I wish I could say that there was one thing in particular that has resulted in what you might call success. In reality though, my career and all the facets thereof have been a really hard slog and a kind of sense of just never giving up.
Of course, there have been times when I have been incredibly fortunate, such as meeting incredible mentors who have helped me. I think that even though there may be ‘one thing’, most success whatever you do is a process.
What has been your career highlight /proudest achievement?
By far and away, the day I passed my final specialist exam was both a highlight and a proudest achievement. It was the culmination of over a decade worth of work, coupled with an incredibly arduous process and exam and to this day, it has been the best thing for me.
What would you say was your greatest professional challenge?
I am challenged on a daily basis and to be honest, I love that aspect of what I do. I think though, a challenge that I see regularly outside of the clinical arena is how to build a career and a life that I am happy with; self-care, maintaining hobbies, learning to say no are all challenges and lessons I need to learn and I’m happy to say that I’m getting better. Slowly!
How have you navigated working in such a male-driven career field?
I have been incredibly fortunate to have the backing of some great mentors and supporters who have helped me learn along the way. Interestingly, they are all men. I think that coupled with the fact that I have never been someone to allow another’s biased opinion to get me down has helped me a lot.
Now I make a point of helping other young women, the way I was mentored but also to learn from my successes and my failures.
What advice do you have for others wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Make life and career choices that are right for you. There is no point doing something for someone else’s sake or because our society says you should. Work hard in whatever you do because that forms a strong foundation for success.
And finally, never let anyone tell you that your gender, your race or anything else about you is a reason you can’t do something.
To see Nikki speak in person, get your tickets to VAMFF before they sell out.