Sarah Manyok is the current CEO and Director of Millennium Disability Care, a Disability services provider. In this role, not only has she made a huge impact within the disability service realm, but she has also been able to advocate for differently-abled people. Outside of work, Sarah volunteers a lot of her time as a youth worker, empowering vulnerable youth.
Today she shares her hopes for change and her experience in social impact.
You’re a strong advocate for individuals with disabilities and have demonstrated this support continuously in your role as the CEO of Millennium Disability Care. What was it that led you to take this pathway?
Growing up I’ve always aspired to help people, and I think this desire to help others started with my family and when we first moved to Australia from South Sudan. I grew up in government homes and living off Centrelink and watching both my parents and my older siblings work extremely hard just to make ends meet. As a child seeing my family struggle made me determined to do something with my life, it motivated me to be that change for my family. Over the years the desire to help people grew even more, and I later found an interest in the Healthcare field. My early interest in Medicine is what inspired me to study for a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Science, the end goal is to become a Doctor, however, it wasn’t until the second year of my degree I decided to open up my own NDIS service provider company, at the time I was already in the NDIS industry whilst I was studying full time. My personal experience with other NDIS companies, and witnessing certain organisations not provide services to a satisfactory standard to their clients is one of the main reasons I wanted to develop my own company where clients felt as though they were truly cared for and looked after, and over the years my company has achieved that and so much more.
Your company, Millennium Disability Care, is only in its early days, yet has quickly expanded across the country. What has it been like overseeing the progress of MDC? What is next for MDC in terms of its growth as a company?
It’s definitely been a crazy 2 years and navigating my way through the position that I am in now wasn’t an easy journey. Many sacrifices were made however I couldn’t have done it without the help of my supporting team and my business partner/older brother David. We definitely had to put in a lot of work to be able to operate in 4 states across Australia and the hard work we’ve put in growing our Melbourne branch is the same energy we put into our Brisbane, Perth and Darwin branches as well.
In terms of growth as a company, MDC wishes to expand over the next few years and hopefully operate Australia-Wide, implementing the “Millennium Approach” across all states. This approach focuses on the core values our organisation abides by and promises Excellent services for all our clients and partners.
At MDC we promise to “Do it right & Do it Better”. And that’s what separates us from other companies, the transparency and the authenticity we share with our clients and anybody wanting to do business with us.
You’ve made an amazing impact as a Youth Worker in the Melton region. In this time, you’ve been a participant in programs such as Girl Chat and have worked to empower disadvantaged youth. What have been some of the highlights of your time in this role
My time working closely with the Melton City council and running community events with Girl Chat has been such a phenomenal experience, being able to see the growth of the Girls in my community and helping them see their full potential and apply themselves and challenge themselves has been such an honour to witness. It’s important for me to see the females of my community be empowered. Women Empowerment is essential for the achievement of sustainable development.
In a way, it also helped me grow and advance my leadership skills. One of my memorable and enjoyable highlights is when we hosted our “Ask a Woman, Ask a Man” event which focused on interesting discussions ranging from toxic masculinity and notions of manhood/womanhood to identity and relationships, this event was one of Girl Chat’s biggest events with a number of people from diverse ages and life experiences tuning into the session.
You mentioned in your presentation “Youth in Society” at the Ballarat African Association that being a young woman of colour has meant that you have faced greater challenges breaking into both political and managerial spaces. What are some of these challenges and how have you been able to manage them?
Being a young woman of colour I automatically have the odds against me. Growing up I always noticed a lack of diversity when it came to political and managerial spaces although here in Australia women of colour are active in these spaces and have been for a while but we haven’t always held the most visible or traditional roles, more often we are kept behind the scenes and rarely ever recognised for our works. And over the years one of the challenges I’ve faced is always being overshadowed, and by this, I’m forced to go above and beyond and be an overachiever in order to be recognised for simple works, but I’m glad to be a part of an era where more women of colour are being encouraged and paving ways for other young girls to be respectfully and authentically engaged; not only in Politics but many other industries as well.
We’re constantly applying pressure and I love it!
What would be your advice to other young women looking to follow in your footsteps?
My advice to young women would be to follow my 5 Step plan:
1. Activate the “Do less, but Do more mindset” - So Do less in terms of mindless activities and to-do lists, however ALWAYS do more than your competition.
2. Have a Tunnel vision focus
3. Grow your Network
4. Stretch your role and Challenge yourself - You won’t grow if you don’t take on new responsibilities
5. And always remember to maintain a healthy work-life balance