PROFESSIONELLEIn 2007, Galia Barhava-Monteith and Sarah Wilshaw-Sparkes founded Professionelle, a still-unique social venture dedicated to advancing women’s careers by researching, understanding and addressing the needs of all working women in New Zealand.

Six years later, in August 2012, we transformed Professionelle into a charitable trust called the Professionelle Foundation, to broaden its reach beyond the founders and to align with its public good aims. The founders have been joined on the Foundation’s Board by four more hard working Trustees.

Our Insight: We started Professionelle after our realisation that working women face unique challenges in the workplace and often feel isolated and unable to discuss them freely with peers and colleagues.  We believe that by bringing together working women from all  industry sectors and professions we can tap into their collective wisdom and experience to generate smart and practical solutions that materially assist women’s career progress.

Our Vision:

Places with senior professional women: normal. Places without: abnormal.

Our Approach:

Underlying all our work is extensive research into the most up-to-date thinking about what works for women and their careers. Our research combines academic thinking with practical solutions garnered from our ongoing interactions with our membership base.  Professionelle has also conducted original research on this topic for leading organisations in this field, such as Global Women, as well as for local media.

Our Target:

Our material is relevant for all women seeking to advance their careers and we find it resonates particularly with women in large public and private organisations, and in professional service firms. In our first three years, Professionelle gathered over 2000 members, mostly women. Our members are typically in their thirties and forties, with two thirds in full time employment and 75% tertiary educated.

Love your work – there has been so much that has been bang on with what is going on in my life.

Our Offer:

Professionelle specialises in developing highly relevant, tailored offerings for women keen to progress their careers. Offline, we offer research-based networking seminars both in-house to corporate and professional service partners and also publicly. Seminar topics range from ‘Mentoring as a key ingredient for women’s career success’ to ‘Living our values at work and beyond’.

At Professionelle’s heart is this website offering a wealth of free resources that cover the real issues working women face in their careers – and beyond. Professionelle is open to all (women and men) who wish to become members, and membership on our website is free.

Our Board:

Professionelle’s Board curently comprises eight Trustees.


Rebecca Burgess, Professionelle’s National Administrator

Rebecca BurgessRebecca is a leading consultant from virtual assistant provider Vanilla Admin and is the voice on the phone or at the end of an email when you contact Professionelle. From her lifestyle block in the gorgeous Waitomo Caves district, Rebecca juggles her own business as well as consulting to Vanilla Admin, 3 children and husband Mark.

Vanilla Admin proudly provide business support to Professionelle through Rebecca’s skills in event management, accounting, and communications which combine years of high level administration experience and business ownership from Rebecca’s career. If there’s a box to be ticked, or an ‘i’ to be dotted, then Rebecca and the team are the ones to do it.

In addition, our regional chapters are led by:

Karyn Riley, Professionelle’s Lead Facilitator, Christchurch

Karyn Riley Karyn Riley helps women rediscover their identity, have time for their priorities, find balance and fun in their life.

Karyn works with women throughout New Zealand and internationally, providing them with a supportive, confidential partnership and helping them overcome challenges, identify their goals and achieve more by focusing on less. She motivates, inspires and empowers women to find time for themselves and what’s important in their life.

Karyn is a time management/life balance educator, author of “How to Keep the YOU in Mum”, speaker, contributing writer, media commentator and mother of two. In addition to being an Event Facilitator for the Professionelle women’s network, Karyn is also a Toolbox Facilitator for The Parenting Place, a Master of Ceremonies and a member of the National Speakers Association.

Karyn was awarded a Local Heroes Medal in the New Zealander of the Year Awards 2012, a business finalist in the NEXT Woman of the Year Awards 2010, a finalist in the Zonta Women in Business Awards 2008 and is undertaking a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology at Canterbury University.

Jann Watt, Professionelle’s lead facilitator, Wellington

Jann WattJann is New Zealand’s first Reach-Certified Personal Branding Strategist and is passionate about helping motivated mid-career professionals find their career mojo. Personal branding is a key to helping people focus on the positives in their lives, and Jann’s mission is to be catalyst for making work meaningful and fun.

After observing highly talented people feeling unfulfilled in their roles, Jann stepped out of her corporate role in Organisational Development and launched de novo to enable her to follow her purpose of inspiring others to be the best they can be. Jann loves one-on-one coaching and is also adept working with groups in the role of facilitator or trainer.

Jann has a reputation of being a forward thinker, yet always practical, quickly tapping into the barriers that hold people back and giving them the tools and confidence to achieve their career goals. She is a firm believer that networking is all about sharing. This is seen in the number of coffee chats Jann fits into her busy week with people in her network.

Kathryn Jackson, Professionelle’s original Lead Facilitator in ChCh

Kathryn JacksonKathryn has a 1st class honours degree in Human Resources and Sociology from Stirling and Texas A&M Universities, with a postgraduate diploma in workplace motivation. Her early career was in the UK in HR related roles in Andersen’s and the UK banking industry before qualifying as a coach with the Oxford School of Coaching in 2006. She moved to New Zealand that year.

Kathryn first experienced Professionelle while researching her first book, ‘How to Keep Your Cool If You Lose Your Job’, for which she interviewed Galia.  Kathryn’s business is careerbalance which specialises in providing tools and resources to support professionals and leaders in their personal growth. She has been instrumental in designing and delivering Manager as Coach training for the New Zealand Institute of Management and is a volunteer coach for the KEA Coach Trust in Canterbury.

Having lived in a variety of countries throughout her life, she loves to travel as often as she can and regularly supports non‐profit organisations like Riding for the Disabled.

Kathryn is married and since their new son arrived in March 2012 she has stepped back from the Professionelle role to focus on him.