This has been an interesting year by any measure, both locally and globally. Here are the Professionelle Board’s key reflections and lessons from 2017, compiled by Verity Craft.

Galia Barhava-Monteith, Founding Trustee

For me, it’s knowing our value; even though we are always helping women to realise their own value, we still make the mistake of undervaluing what we do and undersell ourselves. It’s great having a male perspective on the Board who consistently reminds us not to keep selling ourselves short.

Also, I am delighted to have ASB engaged in our Group Mentoring initiative and making it their own. They’re demonstrating their commitment to it and using it strategically. It’s very encouraging to see the enthusiasm with which they’ve embraced it.

Marisa Fong, Chair

Key learning for me was the PIE formula and how Exposure plays a much larger role in career success than I had imagined, particularly the importance of using Social Media effectively. The increased exposure Professionelle has thus achieved has been especially useful to new audiences. (Thanks Briar!!)

Sarah Wilshaw-Sparkes, Founding Trustee

Every March 8th, International Women’s Day, I check the NZ and global stats for women’s participation in positions of leadership and influence and every year the lack of progress makes me grumpy. I fully expect to be grumpy again in 2018. But this year, I have really felt the rising pace of social change, (notwithstanding the drag on all sorts of rights going on in the US).  Marijuana is now legal in 7 US states and the District of Columbia. As I write this, Victoria yesterday became the first Australian state to legalise assisted dying, and that came only a few hours after the Australian Senate passed the marriage equality bill. The issue of sexual harassment is being discussed daily in social media, and in a breadth that goes far beyond specific high profile individuals. #heforshe. #yesallwomen. #notokay. #metoo…well there’s a very deep well to draw on, isn’t there?

We are definitely not home and hosed, but it’s good to feel forward momentum.

John Hanna, Trustee

2017 has been an interesting year!  As the only man on the Professionelle team, it has been a privilege to work alongside the amazing women who are dedicated to changing what happens in the workplaces of New Zealand. As a business leader I realised some years ago that achieving gender diversity doesn’t happen without purposeful thought and action.  What I had thought was that achieving a balanced, powerful and safe workplace for women (and men) would be relatively straight forward. It wasn’t.  The biases inbuilt to our culture, education and selection systems are not easy to overcome. Women are not always fair to women and men are often threatened by women who are appointed over them.

We have worked to understand and counter the issues and to support women to challenge the status quo. It is wonderful to see a powerful woman leading our country! It will be even more wonderful when the boardrooms and executive teams across Aotearoa are balanced with equally powerful men and women. I look forward to contributing to doing our part to make help this a reality as we move into 2018.

Rachel Miller, Board Secretary

My biggest learning this year has been the importance of building diverse support networks. Since joining the Professionelle Mentoring Programme last year, my mentoring group has continued to be a real source of support both personally and professionally. Sharing with the same group of people for over a year, I have come to understand that everyone faces many challenges across careers, health, family, death and loss. When you have diverse sources of support, you can call on different sources for different challenges. I have learnt to be open and honest, how to allow others to support me to negotiate these challenges, and how to provide support to others.

Jayne Chater, Executive Director

My 2017 insights:

2017 has certainly been a year of growth, learning and awareness.  One of the many reasons I love Professionelle is the inclusiveness and the love of supporting women through their whole career. Personally I have a passion for Female Leadership and building the Female Talent pipeline, and Professionelle feeds into this.  A particular success has been the development of the first female group female mentoring programme, both public and in-house, which is all about sharing and learning from more experienced women (who, let’s be honest, learn just as much!)

I listened to a very genuine female leader recently and what resonated with me and has guided me in particular this year  is

  1. curiosity, (for understanding)
  2. having good intent
  3. being empathetic (or as she said, kindness).

Kindness to yourself and to others to me, makes the world a better place, and that is the intent of Professionelle.


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