Westpac Scholars

WFL ApplyNow 2021

Do you have the drive to shape Australia?

Westpac scholars are challenged to set new benchmarks in innovation, research and social change.

Applications are open for the 2021 Westpac Future Leaders Scholarships, a postgraduate scholarship program supporting exceptional individuals to undertake postgraduate study at the University of Melbourne.

If you’re commencing a PhD or Masters by coursework in 2021 at the University of Melbourne, apply before 2 September 2020.

Watch a recent information session - 2020 Westpac Future Leaders scholars share their experience with last year's application process.

For additional application information, here are successful Scholars top 10 tips for applying.

  • You do not need to be accepted into a postgraduate program in order to apply, but your application should be underway. The Westpac Future Leader scholarship is ultimately dependent on your acceptance into a postgraduate program.
  • PhD students may also receive the RTP scholarship in addition to the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship, providing value of over $200,000 collectively.
  • Funding requests for the purpose of medical research as defined in the ARC Medical Research Policy available on the Australian Research Council website will not be considered; MD, juris doctor programs or equivalent are also excluded.


Denzil Futado 2020

Future Leaders Scholar Highlight

Skin in the game – Applying for a Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship.

By Denzil Furtado, University of Melbourne, Westpac Scholar

Every one of us has a unique backstory, a unique portfolio of skills and passions, and a unique vocation. Figuring out what exactly those unique elements are often requires a considerable degree of experimentation, failure, pain, and self-reflection, but the result of this process is a self-awareness that cannot be gained otherwise. When I first came across the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship, I was struck by the level of probing that the application process entailed. It encouraged a level of introspection that went beyond the what, to the why—to the very essence of my motivations. And for good reason. As I’ve since learned, the Future Leaders Scholarship is more than an investment in your vision or your plans or your career; it is an investment in you. The Westpac Scholars Trust is just as concerned with who you are as a person as they are with what you do in your professional capacity. Don’t make the mistake of conflating the two—they are not the same thing. Thus, my first piece of encouragement to you would be to think deeply not just about your work and your career plans, but also about your own personal drivers and motivations. They reveal more about you than you might initially think.

During the panel interview at the National Assessment Centre in Sydney, I was blindsided by a question that has stuck with me ever since: “What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?” The most courageous thing an individual can do is place “skin in the game”—that is, take personal risks for closely-held beliefs and opinions. Thus, my second piece of encouragement would be to ask yourself if there is a cause for which you are willing to incur personal risk (note that there is nothing noble or meritorious about taking risks for the sake of taking risks). Nothing of significance has ever been achieved without the investment of skin in the game, and this principle is unlikely to change any time soon. I find myself being challenged by it all the time.

Finally, I applied for the Future Leaders Scholarship with a broad notion of the work I wanted to commit myself to and an awareness of the motivation for my commitment, but without the least bit of assurance as to whether I was “qualified” enough to hold my own among so many highly-accomplished peers. But as I’ve learned, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, my third and final piece of encouragement is this: please don’t allow self-doubt to prematurely disqualify you from reaching for something that you might otherwise stand to achieve. If you have a vision for how to positively impact other people’s lives in some unique way, and if you are unafraid of taking the necessary risks to pursue that vision, then I challenge you to apply for the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship. It is well worth the investment of time and effort.

Sarah Priestley

Future Leaders Scholar Highlight

A career change. A scholarship. A bright future.
Sarah Priestly, Westpac Scholar, 2019 Future Leader
University of Melbourne

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

As a somewhat theatrical child, my answer to this question was always: an actress. However, as I grew older and realised that perhaps I didn’t have the face nor talent for the big screen, I began to feel uncertain about my future career path.

During my undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne, I was fortunate to be able to dip my toes into a variety of fields – psychology, media and communications, cultural studies, economics, French, marketing and finance, to name a few. All this to-ing and fro-ing eventually culminated in a Bachelor of Commerce and upon graduation, I secured a job as a technology consultant at a large professional services firm. This was an incredible opportunity and seemed like a wise next-step. I threw myself into the work, met some extremely talented people and learnt a lot. However, the question in me remained: is this really what I want to do with the rest of my life?

Through my work, I was given the opportunity to volunteer in some community programs. I participated in mentoring programs with high school students and visited schools to promote careers and study in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and maths). Meeting young students and stepping into the community filled me with a sense of satisfaction that I couldn’t achieve in my day-to-day work. It sparked an idea: teaching. Looking back at some of my previous experiences working with young people, it seemed almost surprising that I hadn’t considered teaching earlier.

Making such a big career change - from the corporate world to the classroom - was incredibly daunting. I started by investigating study options and speaking to close friends and family. Someone recommended I consider the Westpac Future Leaders Scholarship program. At first, I dismissed the suggestion after being daunted by the calibre of previous recipients (neuroscientists, quantum computing engineers, cancer researchers amongst many other admirable and fascinating pursuits). I decided to sleep on it, then put aside my insecurities and commenced an application.

Fast-forward one year and I cannot believe how much my life has changed. With Westpac’s support, I have just completed my first semester of my Masters of Primary Teaching at Melbourne University’s Graduate School of Education (MGSE). I chose to study at MGSE due to the way it intertwines practical teaching experiences with academic study. This approach, whilst highly demanding, has allowed me to see the implications and applications of education theories in the classroom. It is also exhilarating to be in an environment where everyone is so passionate about education and share a common belief in its immense power for good.

To complement my studies, I am half-way through Westpac’s Leadership Development Program with sixteen other 2019 Future Leaders Scholars. This program has redefined my understanding of what it means to be a leader and has allowed me to reflect upon my personal capacity for leadership. I have also formed a network of diverse yet like-minded peers, who each in their own way are committed to making a positive contribution to Australia. I am inspired by the other scholars’ dedication to areas such as fire ecology, psychiatry, economic development, refugee health, foreign policy and more. Whilst these fields might seem distinct at first glance, it is amazing to see commonalities arise. I have no doubt that some of us will be able to collaborate in future.

Having the support of Westpac and the scholar network has given me the confidence and means to pursue new opportunities to broaden my studies. In a few weeks’ time, I will be attending a conference on positive education (an emerging area in education originating from positive psychology). I also hope to complete a short study program at an overseas university during my winter break in 2020. Looking back, I am so pleased that I took the risk to change my career and apply for the Westpac Future Leaders Program. I intend to draw on my experiences to contribute positively to Australia’s education system in future – whether that be within schools, at a policy-level or through research.

Future Leaders Scholars

Leesa Chen 2019 Westpac Future Leader crop

Leesa Chen

In pursuit of international business, I quickly found myself deep in the Australian dairy industry and living in regional Australia. I am excited about the growth and prosperity for Australian agriculture in the Asian Century.

Adrienne Kooor crop

Adrienne Koor

I am passionate about the wider applications of drone, autonomous systems and robotic integration technologies to improve wider living standards for all Australians.

Sarah Priestley2019 Westpac Future Leaders

Sarah Priestley

I'm a passionate advocate for equity in education and would like to be a part of greater reform to ensure that all young Australians have the same educational opportunities to reach their personal and academic potential.

Ashley Vines 2019 Westpac Future Leaders

Ashley Vines

I have worked in Agriculture, Construction, Disability Care, Indigenous Affairs and the Not-for-Profit Sector. These grassroots experiences have led me to understand the enabling and inhibiting impacts that policies can have upon Australians, facilitating my desire to work at a macro policy-making level.

Katherine Aldred 2018 Westpac Future Leaders

Katherine Aldred

I am passionate about equipping the next generation of Australian students with the skills they need to thrive in globalised workplaces by using digital technologies to foster understanding, dialogue and collaboration between Australian students and their peers in Asia.

Maxim Mattvey 2018 Westpac Future Leaders

Maxim Mattvey

My life is devoted to creating disproportional positive impact on a regional, and global scale, to ultimately aid those who lack basic opportunities and support. I am in pursuit of culminating business and technology acumen in a world of many problems and solutions, that are perhaps not tackled in the most impactful order.

Phillip Chan 2017 Westpac Future Leaders

Phillip Chan

I am an Australian lawyer, human rights advocate and policymaker. I am fascinated by the emerging fields of business and human rights, the impact of technology on human rights, and youth empowerment through education.

Robert Snelling 2017 Westpac Future Leaders

Robert Snelling

What inspired me to choose a career in the built environment was a single thought; that within my lifetime, I will witness firsthand the implications of not developing sustainable cities. I believe there must be a synthesis of positive community involvement through architecture with innovative sustainable design through engineering.

Michelle Todorov 2017 Westpac Future Leaders

Michelle Todorov

I am a clinical audiologist and researcher with a desire for continued learning. I have a passion for understanding more about the education of children with a hearing impairment.

Read about previous Future Leaders Scholars here

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