This week’s Inspirational Biz Gal went from teacher to taking out the title of MasterChef 2016.
A strong and driven woman, Elena Duggan showcased her integrity to fans of the popular Network 10 show throughout the season, particularly in the finale when she lent a helping hand to her friendly rival Matt Sinclair by assisting in his final dessert challenge.
Biz Gals chatted to Elena ahead of her guest appearance on MasterChef tonight.
Biz Gals: What is your greatest achievement?
Elena: I think singling one overall result or outcome can diminish all the work, effort, support and lessons along the way it took to reach that destination. But here are a few things I’m proud of…
I’m incredibly proud of being a good daughter, sister, friend and partner and strive to maintain these connections with quality, integrity, kindness, respect and love. Some days this is harder than others and sometimes surviving is the achievement and sometimes thriving and flourishing is.
On reflection I don’t know how I did it at such a young age, but moving to Sydney from Noosa at 17yo to start university and a whole new chapter was brave, bold and I’m really happy I didn’t let anything stop me, including fear and being homesick and being a very tiny fish is a big Sydney sea.
Being both a student and teacher, working in education, I was very proud daily- to be a part of an incredibly team, to be in a position of responsibility of guiding our future generations. I was and still am proud of my students every day, their small achievements and their big ones, any progress and growth felt like I had contributed to giving them access to the tools they needed to reach their potential- it’s always within all of us, but sometimes we need a little help unlocking it.
Applying for MasterChef in the very beginning for the 2015, 7th season was brave and I’m proud. What I did with the ‘rejection’ of not making it through made me proud. I made a conscious choice and effort to learn something every single day for the following year in order to feel skilled enough to reapply. Making that choice every day all over again when being successful in gaining my apron/position in the 8th season, in a house with 23 others, away from our support systems was again a massive challenge and one that I rose to. If I throw myself into something, I give it my very all. Giving less than my best is not an option, though sometimes I really have to push myself to believe and own this.
Biz Gals: What is the greatest lesson you have learnt?
Elena: Every single person has greatness within themselves; by connecting with them, offering compassion, and kindness, accessing and valuing their strengths, giving them purpose and empowerment makes every day of our lives more enjoyable and more successful to work and live together more comfortably and harmoniously.
In terms of self-worth, I’ve learned I’m way stronger, more capable, and brave than I ever thought possible. Sometimes you just have to have faith, belief and knowledge you are capable, ahead of whatever challenge you face- don’t give yourself an option for escape or quitting- you’ll find a way, if something is uncomfortable, it’s most often temporary, if something is scary, it’s probably worth pursuing!
Biz Gals: What is the best bit of advice you have been given?
Elena: I’ve been given all kinds of advice over the years, small and large, some that gets you through a singular moment, some that gets you through days, weeks, months… but two things I’ve had to remind myself often when embarking on this reasonably new adventure is…to trust and be kind to myself. To trust my own knowledge, my experiences, my instincts and being kind to myself before I help others, otherwise the tank runs dry pretty quickly.
Biz Gals: What or who inspires you?
Elena: Young people, the future; and our good and decent leaders, mentors with their wisdom and experience. I have respect and acknowledgement of our past and those who came before us, and collectively working towards a better future and who is going to lead us there. I get creative inspiration from sounds and music, colours and shapes, aromas and textures, memories and joy, interactions with others and their stories.
Biz Gals: What is your biggest hope for women in the future?
Elena: Equality. In treatment, in opportunities, in the workplace, on the sporting field, in the creative arts, in media, in science, in every industry, in our families, and in our communities – that we are all created equally and deserve to be treated as such- this wish, dream and goal extends to every person who is marginalised.