100 Days Later Helen Corney, PhD Candidate – Global, Urban and Social Studies, found confirming her values and aligning them to all parts of her 100 Day Plan helped her shape what she really wanted from all parts of her life. 

100 DAYS LATER: HELEN CORNEY

Contemplating the 100 day plan aboard the Ushuaia, surrounded by the wonder of Antarctica was perplexing. Should I be realistic, knowing that the ship experience was out of the ordinary, or should I be aspirational and shoot for the moon?  Of course, there are so many ways to approach it.  In my need to be practical, I decided to combine a little of each.  I had a PhD to finalise, a job application in process and a desire to find a niche in my chosen field.  I was also going home to a family and the demands of motherhood.

I returned from Antarctica on the Wednesday and on the Thursday received two exciting emails. Firstly, my draft thesis had been approved by my supervisors.  What a relief!  For those of you who have been on this journey, you will know that this is the beginning of a long road of finalising the detail, finding examiners and filling in numerous forms to allow for submission. The release from hours at the computer, endlessly rewriting chapters was incredible!  I was airborne!

The second email was a job offer! For me this was great affirmation of the lessons and skills that I had acquired throughout the Homeward Bound year. Often the emphasis is on the three week trip in Antarctica. Whilst this trip is extraordinary, the coaching, LSI 1 and 2 and the attention to mapping and understanding my values were pivotal for me. LSI 1 & 2 challenged me to believe in my achievements and skills, to confront self-doubt, to stand firm in my experience and to tell my story with a new self-assurance. My coach had consistently encouraged me to rewrite my script about my work and life experiences and to take on board the many positive perceptions that others had of me.  I had approached this job interview with a whole new mindset.

Importantly, this job needed to sit with my values and needs. For me this was not about gaining recognition or an amazing pay packet, but having flexibility, autonomy and field work that allowed me to continually connect with nature. I also wanted to work part-time to allow me to pursue other dreams and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Interestingly, people asked me why I had not applied for jobs of a higher level. Through Homeward Bound, I had clarity about the things that gave me life and how I wanted my employment to sit within this and so applying for this job had been strategic.

My final item in my 100 day plan was to find a niche in my chosen field where I can expand the reach of my research. This one is more difficult, and requires courage, tenacity and patience.  I have begun giving a few small presentations here and there – and low and behold someone contacts me to speak somewhere else.  Ha! Wouldn’t you know it – after a cuppa together she explains that she has been on a program called Homeward Bound – had I heard of it?

Leadership, values, collaboration – the essence of Homeward Bound. 100 days is just the beginning!


Helen has worked in the environment sector for over two decades with numerous roles including Park Ranger, River Health Officer, and teaching Conservation and Land Management. She has a passion for working with members of the community to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of the environment whilst undertaking conservation work. After working on river health issues, Helen was inspired to research the relationship between the human well-being benefits of urban waterway corridors and biodiversity and the implications this has for environmental management. She is currently completing a PhD with the Interdisciplinary Conservation Science Research Group at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.

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