Melanie Tran is a woman in tech, a traditionally male-dominated industry sector, who challenges the status quo not just because she is female but also because of her disability. “I often find myself working twice as hard just to prove my capability,” she says. But she has not let that stop her.
At 19, Melanie took on her first board role with Digital Literacy Foundation (previously known as LeepNGO), a not-for-profit organisation, focused on digital inclusion and addressing the challenges of the digital divide. She has continued to step up when others step back never letting anything hold her back. She was also on the board before becoming Chair for Children and Young People with Disability Australia.
Feeling like she has more to give and wanting to make a real difference, Melanie has stepped onto the board of the International Youth Foundation with initiatives that directly serve millions of young people across the globe to promote youth agency, economic opportunities and leadership. She is an Australian representative advocating for young changemakers. Melanie is not someone that has had to chase these roles. When asked how she got that position, she humbly replies they gave her a call. She first met them when she participated in the Laureate Global Fellowship, where she travelled to Spain to take part in a leadership and social entrepreneurship retreat alongside 19 young people from across the globe.
It was an amazing experience for her and clearly, she made an impression on the foundation’s leaders, who then chased her up many years later.
In her day job, Melanie is a Product Designer. Currently, she is very proud of the work she has done at Hireup to simplify the experience for those with a disability to find, manage and hire support workers who are able to assist with daily living activities.
When asked about working as a woman in tech and in the intersection of design, innovation and social impact, Melanie said “It is about creating platforms for unique and powerful voices to be heard, and empower women across the globe to create opportunities for themselves and those around them.”
Eight years ago, she vowed she would use her skills and expertise, as well as her own lived experience as a catalyst to drive innovation and positive social change in the healthcare and technology sectors, and today that dream has crystallised into her research project. She is currently doing her PhD on harnessing the power of design and technology to improve the communication experience between young people with chronic conditions and clinicians who specialise in paediatric emergency medicine. Her mission is to create a solution that may address some of these communication challenges, driven by the voices of young people, their parents/caregivers and paediatric emergency clinicians.
As you can see, nothing will hold Melanie back. Her advice to others wanting to challenge the status quo, is, “Be bold and brave” and “It’s okay to make mistakes because we can learn from these lessons. It’s about embarking on the journey of continuous transformation.”