HALE W18 Masthead

Women at Work: Lucy Perry

Molly McLaughlin

Hot pink mohawk? Talking a million miles a minute? Yep, that’s Lucy Perry.

Already one of the most well known leaders in Australia, Lucy Perry has recently joined Sunrise Cambodia as CEO. Sunrise is a charity founded by Geraldine Cox AM. Lucy has previously worked as CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, and believes the key to her leadership style is creating a fun environment for the whole team.

“I ran a creative services firm for 20 years and towards the end of that time one of my most lucrative clients sold hinges,” she laughs. “That was so boring I wanted to stab myself in the eye. When the opportunity came to support a charity project I jumped at it because it was much more fun.”

Lucy is an accomplished public speaker and will be in Canberra for YWCA’s annual She Leads Conference on Tuesday 17 May. In combination with social media, Lucy uses her role as a speaker to raise the profile of the work Sunrise is doing on the ground in Cambodia.

“I love public speaking because I love getting the Sunrise story out there in a way that’s fun and entertaining,” she says. 

Lucy believes there should be more equal gender representation at conferences in Australia. “I get asked to speak often because I am a woman in leadership, but to me it’s a total no-brainer. It irritates me that it’s even a conversation that we need to have in 2016!”

Sunrise Cambodia originally began as a children’s village when Geraldine Cox took in a group of orphans in the 1990s. It has expanded to include all kinds of sustainable development programs, like their latest initiative, Brains Trust, which funds vocational training to boost education in a country that was decimated by civil war and genocide less than 40 years ago.

“We have really clever programs,” Lucy says. “The need is absolutely enormous and there was of really heartbreaking stuff to see, but to be honest the best stuff for me is not the heartbreaking poverty, it’s the wonderful things that are happening. I find that really inspiring.”

When Geraldine Cox reached out to her to join Sunrise, Lucy knew that she had to see it in action before she could take the job. Of course, after visiting Cambodia Lucy was hooked and is now infectiously passionate about fundraising for such an important cause.

“I wanted to see it, feel it, and smell it, to know that it was going to be the kind of cause that would eject me out of bed in the morning,” she says. “I could see the work Sunrise Cambodia was doing was fantastic and I wanted to be part of that.”


Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author