Woman Corbin, Teresa

Consumer Activist

Written by Kate Moore, Australian National University

Teresa Corbin was born to an Australian family living in California in 1966. The family moved to New Zealand, and when Teresa was 14, her parents separated, and she moved back to Melbourne with her mother.

Teresa went to La Trobe University, but in 1987 - her second year - she became politicised when the Government introduced tertiary fees. She was involved in the anti-fees campaigns, and aged 21 became President of the Student Representative Council (SRC). Her involvement in the establishment of the National Union of Students gave her a good insight into 'sandpit politics' and although she found it quite 'ugly' and disillusioning, she quickly gained a range of business and management skills. At about the same time Teresa became involved in Community Aid Abroad which exposed her to issues of human rights and world peace. Teresa married and had two children close together, but she persisted with her studies as well as working part time. Although ther marriage broke down, Teresa and her ex-husband decided that they both wanted to move north, and Teresa got a part time job at the Consumer Telecommunications Network (CTN) as Communications Liaison Officer. She attributes her ability to combine parenting with a successful and demanding job to her decision to stay in the community sector where she enjoyed family friendly working conditions (http://janeelix.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/teresa-corbin/).

In 2003 Teresa became CEO of CTN. When the government decided that it wanted to change the way that consumers were represented in the telecommunications area, she co-ordinated the establishment of a new umbrella organisation - the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network. After a period as Deputy CEO, Teresa applied for, and was given the CEO position.

Teresa enjoys mentoring people. Her own role model is Nelson Mandela, but closer to home Phillipa Smith and Deirdre O'Connell (New SouthWales Information Commissioner) have provided her with mentoring and support.As a manager she focuses on achievement and believes in celebrating success. She likes setting a tone and culture, and making sure that people feel safe and confident in a work place, and able to raise issues as they need to. However, she sometimes finds the political aspects of her job frustrating. Describing herself as 'straight up and down', she doesn't believe 'playing games' is helpful in the long term.

Humbleness is a quality that Teresa values, and which encapsulate her approach to leadership. 'I'm not "the one" - I'm the leader of many. I see myself as part of a team, rather than the team being there to support me.' (http://janeelix.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/teresa-corbin/).

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