Syndicate Program Experience & Learnings
These reflections are drawn by participants from the six course days, coaching and the work in syndicates, in which leaders across all sectors and many industries are interviewed about their leadership journey.
Boronia Syndicate - What sets a successful leader apart
Our team brings together aspiring female leaders from across a range of industries including insurance, healthcare, engineering and information technology, all with a passion to enhance our leadership skills. Our syndicate advisor, Marcella Lazarus specialises in coaching leaders and boards through complex organisation transformations. Our syndicate objective was to select a compelling research topic and choose a diverse and highly talented range of leaders to explore fresh insights into - What sets a successful leader apart.
Senior Manager – Strategy and Development, Green Building Council of Australia
Rachael is a senior manager with experience in engineering, sustainability, strategy and business development. She currently works at the Green Building Council of Australia, a for-purpose organisation that is transforming the future of buildings. Prior to this, Rachael worked as a chartered structural engineer for a number of design consultancies.
Her strengths include sustainability, strategy and stakeholder engagement. During her career, Rachael has achieved the following highlights:
- Currently developing the Green Building Council of Australia’s strategy for transforming the housing market.
- Managed the Green Building Council of Australia’s membership and renewal process to improve value and satisfaction for the membership of more than 700 organisations.
- Past Deputy Chair of the Sustainable Engineering Society, which developed sustainability and climate change policy for Engineers Australia, as well as hosting education events and conferences.
- Consulted with more than two hundred passionate stakeholders to develop Green Star - Design and As Built, a rating tool for sustainable buildings that has transformed the industry.
- Awarded fellowship by the Centre for Sustainability Leadership and took part in the fellowship program
- Obtained chartered status with the Institute of Structural Engineers (UK) after only five years of work experience.
The Next Generation leadership program has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn from a diverse group of talented women. In the sustainability industry, we can move in fairly small circles and to work on a project with professionals from healthcare, insurance and manufacturing has been a real learning experience.
The exposure to some high-profile leaders through the interview project has made me realise, that leaders are people too! They have been really generous with their time and knowledge, and open about failures of things that they could have done better. It makes me feel that a leadership position could be a realistic goal for my own career.
Channel Operations & Optimisation, BOC Limited
Rhea Neill has an extensive background with 15+ years’ experience in contact centre operations and channel optimisation. She is passionate about delivering on customer expectations through technology modernisation and optimal processes. To achieve best results, Rhea collaborates with all levels of the business, from frontline agents to senior management. Her strengths are in project management, stakeholder engagement, business process improvement, technology implementation & modernisation, strategy development and contact centre operations.
In a sentence, I’ve learned that networking results in visibility which helps me to influence key people leading to career advancement.
I’ve been told before that I need to ‘network’ to get anywhere. But I never really understood why; it wasn’t my natural style and I also resented it a because I saw it as, “brown-nosing”. Shouldn’t my performance and results speak for themselves?
From this program, I’ve learnt that being visible doesn’t just mean being a visible leader, it’s also about being seen by the people who have an influence over my career path. So, to build visibility I needed to have a network with the right people in it. They needed to be aware of who I am, what I stand for and what my goals are (my ‘personal brand’).
When I got networking and visibility right, it was easier, and I felt more comfortable to influence key people. As I do this more and more, I know that these leaders will become more aware of me and my abilities, which increases my chances of success should an opportunity arise.
The final thing that I’ve learnt from this program is that we should be educating, supporting and encouraging women earlier in their career. I’ve been working in the professional sector for more than 15 years. I feel that I could have done more by now by having this knowledge and network 5-7 years ago.
Head of Applications Maintenance & Support APAC, Aon Australia
Souda has over 15 years’ experience in the insurance and IT industry with in-depth experience in application support and management, product development, stakeholder management and team leadership. With a strong continuous improvement ethos and through to best practice, Souda has been involved in key projects and initiatives that has delivered process improvements, system enhancements and innovative insurance broking platforms. She has recently facilitated the transition and implementation of the vendor support model and is building up her skills in vendor management, tracking metric compliance and delivery to ensure high level of service is continued to be provided to internal colleagues and customers.
What has been powerful, and what I believe will continue to resonate with me through my professional journey, has been the opportunity to connect with interesting, insightful and inspiring people across a range of industries and experiences.
Through WOB I have met with other female leaders across industries and the group has openly shared their experiences and view point. I have listened to interesting and inspiring guest speakers and had the opportunity to interview senior executives across industries and sectors that were generous with their time and knowledge. I initially felt fearful of interviewing CEOs, fearing that I may not have the confidence to interview these extremely accomplished people. This feeling was completely unwarranted as I thoroughly enjoyed all the interviews and really gained a sense of how authentic each leader was; I felt their passion and got to hear firsthand how they achieved their success.
Eucalypt Syndicate - Courageous Leadership
Leadership is a topic that has been written and re-written about since the industrial revolution. It continues to be a topic that is widely discussed and much advice has been given about how to be a successful leader. As a group, we pondered why good leadership appeared to be elusive for many who attempted to lead. In our discussions, we wondered if courage could be a key contributor in being a successful leader.
Senior Manager, People Advisory Services, EY.
Success-driven and performance-focused human resources leader with strong influencing and negotiating skills, ability to build effective working relationships, very well networked globally within the human resources profession to ensure on-going up to date awareness of thought leadership.
Globally experienced in a variety of industries on a wide range of remuneration, benefits, performance talent, workforce analytics and employee engagement. An impressive understanding and appreciation of the ability understand and interpret and apply overall organisational goals with achieving the outcomes for the people agenda, whilst ensuring underpinning elements such as organisational culture are not compromised.
A trusted adviser to executive teams as well as boards. Ensuring adherence to ASX and other government requirements.
I have always believed in personal development and had a desire to ensure I had a competitive edge in my profession. I had reached a point in my career where technically I was sound and knew that other than technology advancement there wasn’t really anything else at this point that I could keep adding to my skills set.
I also knew that the types of challenges I was now facing in my career were of a different nature. They were subtleties that I was struggling to put my finger on. It then dawned on me that I needed to learn something different. Something that wouldn’t necessarily be attained through formal qualifications. In my research, I came across Women on Boards. Their unique approach and what they stood for attracted me to them. Initially, I was considering just mentoring, but on speaking with Women on Boards I realised I needed more than just mentoring. They encouraged me to apply for the Next Generation of Female Leaders program.
So far, this program has challenged me to really explore and articulate who I am, what my values are and what I want in my career. I thought I knew all these things, but upon using the methodologies I learnt from the program, I soon realised I had not always been clear and that determining these aspects is critical to becoming an effective leader. I’ve also learnt the importance of how I present myself so as to best influence how others see me.
The “getting ahead” project pushed me to network and reach out to individuals I would not ordinarily have had the courage to approach. Working in our syndicate groups has given me a real taste of what it may be like to sit on a board and how to interact with different individuals and different personalities whilst harnessing the collective end goal.
One of the key takeaways I learnt on this program is the power of reciprocity. I am now clear on the types of organisations I want to contribute to by way of board positions as well as the type of organisations and leaders I want to work for in my profession.
Waratah Syndicate - Leading in turbulent times
To better understand what a leader must do to successfully navigate a turbulent time, and how that differs from leading in the current VUCA world we interviewed 14 senior executives from a range of industries. We asked them to think of turbulent times in which they have been involved, what they see as the requirements of a leader, and how that differs, if at all, from leading day to day.
General Manager, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Is a senior leader with extensive program delivery and strategic advisory roles to the Commonwealth, State, Local and Commercial and Not for Profit sectors. Jacky is a sound strategic thinker who excels in connecting and collaborating, both domestically and internationally. She is experienced in driving cultural and transformational change, delivering on large and complex programs and projects and leading geographically dispersed teams. In her role as Chair for a Not for Profit she has helped the organisation establish the right governance and structure to support its continual growth and impact.
Qualifications include; Bachelor of Applied Science (Textile Management), Graduate Certificate in Statistics and currently studying for a Masters of Human Resource Management.
Attending the 2018 Women on Boards Next Generation Leadership Program has been a key highlight for me this year. I have undertaken a range of leadership programs in the past and each one has provided an opportunity for growth and reflection but what I liked most about this program was the cross-sector experience of the cohort, the excellent teaching and personal reflection from both the speakers and participants and the opportunity to gain insights from CEO's of well-respected organisations.
Over the last few months there were some key sessions and reflections that have really influenced me as a leader. The quote " sometimes you need to slow down to go faster" has helped me reflect on whether I am spending enough time on the balcony or caught in the tidal wave of "busyness". The group activity we undertook exploring the system we operate in was also helpful for reflecting on how I was influencing or allowing certain things to happen in my day to day interactions and how I could be even more intentional in how I interacted with those around me. We also mapped out those within our working environments who could have the biggest impact on our success and discussed how we were working with those individuals. But the most impactful has been the group assignment and working with a team of amazing ladies and coach/ mentor to look at what it takes to manage in a crisis vs in the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we are now in. Understanding that a knowledge of self - your blind spots, your strengths, your impact on others and how you manage yourself and work with others, is vital to your success as a leader.
Wattle Syndicate - megatrends: predicting the future of leadership
The Wattle Group, as a part of the Next Generation of Female Leaders 'Project Getting Ahead' chose to look at leadership through the lens of the CSIROs Megatrends. The group interviewed 23 leaders with a variety of executive roles in a diverse range of industries. The purpose of the project was to understand how to get a C-suite/board role and how to be successful once you get there. The Wattle Group framed their questions to not only look to the future but also asked leaders to explain their beginnings. Understanding the leaders' past, provided context for who and where they are today. The aim of focusing on Megatrends was to gain an understanding of how effective leaders perceive the future, and to compare those ideas to the trends theorised by the CSIRO.
Category Manager, Australian Rail Track Corporation
Emma is a Procurement Professional with over ten years experience in both private and public organisations. She is currently a Category Manager at the Australian Rail Track Corporation implementing panel arrangements and introducing category management. Emma is enthusiastic about Strategic Procurement and the value it can bring an organisation. She is proactive in meeting challenges and managing strategy and projects to required timeframes. Emma has worked internationally, spending five years in the UK travelling and working. She has two bachelor degrees and is constantly looking to learn new things. In her personal life, Emma is passionate about travelling and cooking, two hobbies that bring people together.
A past graduate referred me to the Women on Boards Leadership program. She spoke of how rewarding and beneficial it was and how it assisted her with getting on her first Board. I was working for the University of New England in Armidale at the time and applied for the Rural and Regional Scholarship. I was surprised and delighted to be awarded the scholarship and very excited to take part. In between being awarded the scholarship and attending the first two day intensive sessions, I accepted a new role in Newcastle. Still remote, but much closer than Armidale. Thankfully I was allowed to remain in the program despite no longer being rural.
I found the program to be challenging, and at times confronting. I am not particularly good at networking or promoting myself. I have always been of the opinion that my good work should speak for itself and railed against creating my own ‘personal brand’. But I now see that the two ideas are not mutually exclusive and that good work cannot be seen without a light being shone on it.
The women in my group were amazing, so passionate and well connected. We came to decisions quickly and diligently and put a lot of thought into whom we wanted to interview and what we wanted to ask them. I found the coaching to be amazing; Maggie made me look at my situation differently. Rather than telling me what I was doing wrong, she asked me questions, which made me look at the pressure I was putting on myself and to realise that I needed to stop being so critical of myself.
The group project was fascinating. I really enjoy hearing people’s stories and understanding who they are. I was incredibly surprised at how personal some of the interviews got, especially with the “favourite set back” question. They included marriage breakdowns, redundancies, long-term unemployment, isolation and even the death of a close family member. I felt honoured that the interviewees shared that information with our group.
My first interview stuck with me. I was a second with Hannah, interviewing Jayne Paramor of the Boomerang Alliance. I was sitting in a small meeting room in my office, ready to take notes and record the interview on my phone for reporting. Jayne blew me away with her passion and enthusiasm. It radiated from every word she spoke, even through the phone, and I walked out of that interview with a spring in my step. She did not think of her self as a leader or inspiring, but she is definitely both.
A big takeaway for me from the interviews and in the program is that representation matters. Seeing high achieving women in ‘C-Suite’ and Board level positions shows women it is possible regardless of how their careers started out. It has reinvigorated my career aspirations and although I am slower than the rest of the ladies in the program to implement the teachings of the course, I will get there.
I finish my reflection with a favourite quote of mine from the amazing Amy Poehler that really hits home for me and is something I will continue to work on.
"IT TAKES YEARS AS A WOMAN TO UNLEARN WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT TO BE SORRY FOR. IT TAKES YEARS TO FIND YOUR VOICE AND YOUR REAL ESTATE” AMY POEHLER
Senior Category Manager, Ingham's Group Ltd
Hannah is a Sales and Marketing professional with extensive experience in Category Management across many categories and multiple channels. In particular she has considerable experience in Fresh Food and consumer behaviour in both Beef and Poultry. Her strengths include research, data, analysis and strategy development, communication and negotiation skills, strong management skills and a deep understanding of commercial and consumer issues in FMCG, QSR and Food Service. She is an expert in Retail Marketing and sits of the board of Shop!, a NFP industry association dedicated to excellence in shopper marketing and retail experience. She is chair of the Member Benefits Committee which has been charged with setting the strategy direction for Shop! and for developing its education and certification program.
When I was asked to write my reflection on this course and the assignment I went back to my original application. I spoke of wanting to take the next step in my career but also about wanting to expand my professional network and to provide a role model for my daughter. Along the way we were challenged to take active steps to build our network. I have built the North Ryde Women’s Networking Group with the help of Philippa Craft who is a member of the Wattle syndicate and Denise McCrae, a colleague from Ingham's.
As I write this, this group has 67 members and a program of monthly events that stretch until the end of the year. I have grown my network and I’m really enjoying facilitating groups, something that I haven’t done for a while. My network has been extended simply by participating in this course. I have met and spent time with some brilliant and inspiring women. I have been particularly grateful to have been put into the Wattle syndicate with a wonderful group of women who have been so easy to work with.
I have found the process of interview leaders fascinating. So many of them talk about twists and turns or unexpected events in their careers; they talked about difficult periods and frustrations and delays. The message was clear; you just have to keep going. I have found this heartening and I feel like I have renewed stamina.
The other theme that I saw from the interviews was the importance of having someone to talk to. Mentors and sponsors and coaches have been a feature of so many of the successful people that we interviewed and I have found the coaching that has been part of this course very helpful.
It concerns me that only one of our interviewees identified Going, going, gone as a mega trend. To be fair many leaders did identify increasing consumers expectations and this was across many areas including transparency and environmental responsibility. The impact of climate change is starting to be felt and it will be a reality for the rest of my life and the lives of my children. We are desperately in need of leadership and action in this area.
My favourite pieces of advice are around taking action and getting on with things: Show up and "Don't let perfect get in the way of showing up".
Bulk Product Manager, BOC Limited
Philippa is a Mechanical Engineer who for the past three years has taken off her operations hat to step into a commercial role in Product Management. Her strengths lie in her analytical skills, having the ability to solve problems from both a technical and commercial view point. Philippa possesses strong negotiation and influencing skills is constantly striving for continuous improvements and synergies between all areas of the business. Having recently won the Women in Industry award for Excellence in Engineering, she is hoping to continue to build on these skills and become more of a leader within her organisation.
Going into the Next Generation of Female Leaders Program I was tentative about how my lack of professional experience, compared to the other participants, would be viewed and I was questioning whether I was ready for a course like this. I quickly learnt though, that the experience I was gaining was very valuable to all women, at any point in their career, and realised how lucky I was to get such great advice and learnings so early on in my career.
I believe the course came to me at exactly the right time. I was looking for personal development and had started to feel I needed some sort of change. I felt I had achieved a lot in my current role and as a true millennial was after something new and fresh.
Interviewing CEO’s, Board Directors and Senior Leaders across non-for-profit, private and public sectors really opened my eyes to the fact that there are many different ways to be successful as a leader and lots of winding paths to get there. It also taught me what I should look for in future managers and organisations, and showed me that not every company or management team will be the correct fit for me. The program reinforced to me how important a company’s culture is and that I should always look to have my values aligned with their strategic outlook and vision.
I found my coaching sessions with Jane invaluable. She challenged me not to just accept mediocre but to strive for more in everything I do. She was very supportive and instrumental in helping me to apply for and attain a new role within my company. She helped me to understand what it really was that I was after in my next role and brought to the surface what was truly import to me and what my non-negotiables should be.
I wish to thank all my interviewees for taking the time out of your busy lives to chat with me and my syndicate. It takes a true leader to give their time to a cause that has no direct benefit for them and for this I thank you. Also to my fellow syndicate members and Gillian our mentor, we really couldn’t have been from more different industries and backgrounds but I believe this worked in our favour and getting to know you all was a highlight of this course for me. It made the group work time extremely fun and exciting and I learnt a lot from each of you.
I believe what’s next for me is to continue to develop in my new role, and fill out another check box on my experience score card. I plan to start studying my MBA at the University of Sydney next year and have high hopes for what I can achieve off the back of this course with the newly found confidence I have achieved from the Next Generation of Female Leaders Program.
Senior Statistician, McCloud Consulting Group
Sandra is an experienced statistical consultant, partnering with clients in the pharmaceutical industry to develop and test life changing medicines and devices. An organised, efficient, and positive leader with excellent communication skills, Sandra is the president of Chatswood Rostrum Public Speaking Club and a volunteer Surf Life Saver.
We are often led to believe that leaders are charismatic and extroverted role models who lead from a platform. During the course I learned about a different type of leader – one who is collaborative, flexible, and gathers the best team around them they can. What great leaders have in common is they listen well and ask the right questions. They can be any type of personality. This was very motivating as I realised to be the best leader I can, I shouldn’t worry about fitting into the typical ‘leader’ personality mould. Instead I should allow my best-self come out, while also developing my collaborative and facilitative skills.
During the course we also learned about meeting skills. I learned that being silent during meetings is a ‘career limiting move’, how to get a chance to speak when everyone is interrupting each other, and how to make the most of your moment to speak once you grab it. I realised that it’s my responsibility to make sure I get heard, and not to rely on others to be polite enough to give me a chance. I have been gradually testing out the techniques and they work! I cannot express how invaluable this training has been.
The career coaching included as part of the course was transformative. My coach gave me useful tools and action items to advance my career and become more visible. As a result, I have now presented at an industry event, and have steps in place to achieve my next promotion.
Working with my project team was an amazing experience. They are all such motivating, inspiring, kind, and energetic women. I loved getting to know them all and enjoyed working in such an engaged team.
I felt daunted by the prospect of interviewing senior leaders but after conducting the first interviews, I realised what an invaluable opportunity it was to be able to speak to such successful people. I used the project as an excuse to speak to as many leaders as I could. I walked away from every interview feeling absolutely inspired. I can’t thank our interviewees enough for sharing their stories so openly with us.
I am so grateful for the amazing opportunity and experience of doing the Next Gen course. I feel energised and excited by my career, and empowered with the tools to make the most of it.
Client Services Lead, Aon Australia
Shannon has over 15 years’ experience in the superannuation and employee benefits industry, and has worked across multiple organisations in leadership and corporate partnership roles. Shannon’s passion and experience as a strong people leader has seen her lead multiple transformation and change projects. Shannon’s strong background in sales and revenue creation supports businesses through change risk. Shannon graduated with her MBA in September 2017. Shannon has a diverse arts training back-ground which proves to be an asset when innovation or diversity of thought challenges are required to be overcome.
The value from the Women on Boards course is immeasurable, designed to capture all aspects of a strong coaching and learning experience. The classroom work gave modern, applicable concepts and theories that can be applied within the work environment immediately. The contacts made within the cohort itself I will no doubt continue to benefit and grow from, over time.
My biggest learning from the course has been conducting the interviews. The real-world knowledge, experience and stories from incredibly successful and intelligent women has been a massive fast-forward of rich learning for me. Real insights into how to get from senior leadership to the C-Suite or board table could not be found in an article or a book. The reality of the actual trials and tribulations, overcome with smarts, grit and experience cannot be understood in any other format outside of the candid interviews we conducted. There was a trust, intimacy and level of detail that we were very privileged to experience.
The diversity of the group and my syndicate was an extremely valuable aspect to the experience, as well as the similarities of women coming together to learn and better themselves and the personal battles we have in a male dominated society, made me feel included in a community and gave me strength to continue my corporate growth journey despite the challenges that we live in today, and inevitably lay ahead.
The team work aspect came easy to our group, everyone wanted to participate and support each other which made for a pleasant experience.
My most actionable advice I’ll be taking away, is that I will no doubt, fall flat on my face a number of times, but this is essential to my growth and development, understanding from all these successful leaders that failure means you are stretching yourself, you are growing, and you are building your strength for the big leadership jobs to come. Organisations will make terrible mistakes in these current times of change and the pressures that leaders will be facing will be new and complex. Leaders who are experienced, adaptable and resilient to failure will carry their organisations through hard times into success.
Contrary to this, there was also a strong message of collaboration and the people leading aspects of the job ensure the success of any enterprise, allowing your team to thrive, tapping into their strengths and ensuring everyone is going in the same direction was a strong theme from our leaders. As well as taking care of oneself, to ensure success is sustainable.
Octans Syndicate - the three r's of leadership
Despite the range of businesses and individual Leaders interviewed, the recurring theme which emerged was the importance of 3 R’s – Risk, Resilience and Relationships. The 3 R’s applied throughout the leadership journey, from having the courage to take the risky first career step to building the resilience and relationships necessary to be a successful leader. As we neared the end of this journey, we added another R, Reflection. Reflection was something we took the time to do, both individually and as a group, after discussions with each Leader and more holistically, at the conclusion of the interview process. In the end, reflection was integral to our understanding of how the 3 R’s interrelated and how we can take our own careers forward.
Global Regulatory Affairs Manager and Joint Company Secretary at Energy Developments
Proactive and solution-driven counsel with 17 years of legal practice experience including work with Allens, one of the “Big Six law firms” in Australia. Dedicated professional who applies a “client-first” approach to law practice, and a skilled negotiator. Strong time management, decision making and analytical abilities, are complemented by warm interpersonal skills—making for a professional, yet friendly business consultation.
Previously Fiona was a Senior Associate with Allens and DLA Piper in the mergers and acquisitions space. Fiona holds a Master of Laws and a graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance. She is a member of Women on Boards, the Queensland Law Society, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Governance Institute of Australia. Fiona achieved part of her career goal during the course by transitioning from Senior Legal Counsel at EDL to her new regulatory affairs role. The new role sees Fiona advocating EDL’s energy interests on a global scale with regulators and governments. The strategy skills taught during the Next Generation of Corporate Leaders Course have been invaluable in Fiona’s new endeavours.
RISK: The experiences shared during the interview process bolstered my resolve to try something different (moving job roles). Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
RESILIENCE: I have learnt how important a sense of perspective is and how time to reflect and recharge is. The interviews were enlightening in that there were no supermen or women with bullets bouncing off their chests and that real resilience is showing a human face.
RELATIONSHIPS: I am incredibly grateful to have made so many connections with empowered and positive women through the WOB program. Long may they endure.
Sagitta Syndicate - leading through transformation
Disruption is an increasing part of today’s business environment, and the speed with which businesses need to adapt to new circumstances appears to be only increasing. It is this need for adaptability, and the characteristics of leaders who have successfully implemented business transformations, that particularly interested the Sagitta syndicate.
Service Management Provocateur & Independent Consultant
Kathryn is a trusted advisor to organisations undertaking digital transformational journeys. She has 30 years’ experience specialising in process governance with a focus on strategic servicecentric business goals in corporate IT delivery and within multisourced environments. She exhibits strong communication and collaboration with senior business unit leaders across the organisation to identify key needs - an ability to grasp the ‘big picture’ both business and technical in order to design and deliver a best-fit strategic service-centric solution. Major projects in both public and private sector have included service management strategic roadmaps, policy/process reengineering, ISO20000 baselining & accreditation guidance, technical change, transition and service management projects. Kathryn is prominent in the service management community serving as national deputy chair plus past NSW state chair for the itSMF Australia.
With her expertise in process and governance she regularly speaks in Australia plus internationally in the USA, UK and Europe.
The need for consistent, inclusive and concise messaging from our leaders has been one of my key learnings from the interviews undertaken during the WOB NextGen program. I’ve also learnt that a key attribute for leaders throughout transformation is the ability to capture the hearts and minds of the organisation in order to build trust to follow them on the journey. Interestingly, I also learnt that not all leaders are suited to transformation. A different mix of attributes and skills are required to drive transformation in an organisation – as opposed to guiding operational business as usual.
Seek out a mentor to assist me to evolve my personal branding to be successful as a trusted advisor to C-level roles across whole of business. Revise and refresh my resume plus elevator pitch to highlight my unique skills in business plus IT strategic and tactical alignment. Build on the powerful networking opportunities provided by the WOB NextGen Program by establishing a regular informal networking gathering.
Director, Sydney Lead - Sustainability and Climate Change, EY
I am a strategic leader with over 12 years of national and international experience focusing on the betterment of individuals and organisations. Seen as a Thought Leader in driving the future of health and safety as well as a technical specialist designing and implementing targeted health and safety solutions across a broad range of industries including culture change, safety leadership and critical risk management. I have experience providing services across organisations such as Sydney Trains, Pacific National, Lend Lease, Rio Tinto, Leighton Contractors, Government entities (including Transport for NSW, Department of Defence, Department of Human Services, Networks NSW and FACS), Foxtel, ActewAGL, Qantas and the big 4 banks. I am known as a respected people leader of up to 50 people, creating high performing teams to deliver on strategic objectives.
The WOB NextGen program has been a real asset in my development. Although much of the content I had covered in other career development programs, it has been a great reminder. The program helped reinforce my development areas and as such my key takeaways include:
- Being clear on my elevator pitch and how you use that in different scenarios.
- Slowing down. Take the time to connect with people. Allow people to follow my train of thought.
- Researching others when influencing. Find out who they are, what they like and don’t like and where they studied. Weave that into the argument for maximum impact.
- Assuming you are always learning. Never failed, just learning.
- Delivering hard messages, but always leave people with a sense of hope.
- Keeping it simple when leading through change.
My ambition is to be a senior leader who challenges the business to make good strategic decisions that create realistic operational execution plans.
I will build teams that work towards a common goal while also challenging each individual towards meeting their potential.
Next steps in my development plan include:
- Build a plan that targets my development areas of negotiation, influence and economic insight.
- Maintain the network I have built through this program.
Phoenix Syndicate - 'Resilience - the hidden leadership trait'
The objective of our project was to explore the importance of personal/professional resilience and how it helps shape a more resilient organisation to drive change or cope with disruption, heightened ambiguity, volatility and rapid change.
Risk Executive, CBA
A trusted advisor, lifelong learner and authentic transformational leader. She is also a highly experienced credit & risk professional with strong educational background and extensive experience in relationship management, stakeholder engagement and dealing with all credit & operational risk matters across a diverse range of industries and projects,including exercising a meaningful credit approval delegation. She received her double Bachelors degree of Economics and Science from Australian National University and her Master of Applied Finance from Macquarie University.
Roles held over the 15+ year banking career encompass all stages of the credit cycle; from origination, to portfolio management to the rehabilitation of troublesome assets. Zekija commenced her banking career with NAB in 2001 where she held direct responsibility for a portfolio of categorised asset (distressed, difficult and litigious files). After five years with NAB in a variety of risk and business roles she moved into a strategic leadership and relationship focused position with Bankwest. Zekija’s experience with Bankwest included credit decisioning, deal structuring, financial analysis and modelling, portfolio management and establishing and leading teams. In her current role with CBA Zekija is responsible for the influencing and shaping the profile and the overall risk management of a portfolio of Institutional Clients across wide range of industries.
And here are a few paragraphs relating to my overall program learnings:
I got a lot out of the Next Generation of Leaders program. All sessions were delivered by very experienced, diverse and successful facilitators, coaches and mentors who provided practical guidance and examples of HOW to overcome common hurdles that we all face when it comes to career progression. For example, I learned how to command a room, convey executive presence and present publicly with ease. And that’s big for someone who is very much an introvert by nature! I’ve never done nor enjoyed so many public speaking opportunities since completing the program.
I also really enjoyed and got a lot out of the syndicate project that provided me with the unique and invaluable opportunity to speak with many inspirational Chairpersons, CEOs, NEDs and senior executives of some of Australia’s leading organisations and form equally unique and invaluable long-lasting friendships and networks. The project provided me with a real opportunity and experience of strategically managing the syndicate project from start to delivery, to really connect and learn with people from a wide range of diverse organisations and industries and at the end of the day realise that we are all people who bring something different to the table no matter what our job title is or represents.
More graduate reflections coming soon...