By Galia BarHava-Monteith

I don’t know about you, but my year has started with a bang!  There’s so much on, and all of it is shaping up to be very exciting and invigorating.  As I was reflecting on what we are planning for Professionelle this year, it occurred to me it was high time we updated our members on all that’s been going on behind the scenes and, more importantly, took the opportunity to publicly thank our wonderful board members, old and new, for their contributions.

Some of you may not be aware that we are a Charitable Foundation, and that we run ourselves as a committee of active volunteers.  Our ethos is one of giving back in a hands-on manner! We all have ‘day-jobs’, and Professionelle is very much something we do for love.  Each of us volunteers our skills and expertise to give back to other women in the hope we can help them in their careers so that they, in turn, can help other women. Sarah and I, as founders, are deeply grateful to all the amazing women and men, who have helped us along the way to shape our vision into a working reality.

‘The old’

We are really grateful for the years of contribution made by two board members who left us at the end of 2016.

Firstly, to John Loughlin who, with his extensive board and governance experience, has helped us substantially in our journey to become a charitable trust.

John agreed to be the first (and only) man on our board, and has brought a very different and valuable perspective on things to the table.  We are very lucky to have had such a sensible and experienced governor on our board to guide us through the first few years of becoming a charitable foundation.

John is busy now with his day jobs of being a professional chair (and though he has been telling me for years how he is slowing down, he really isn’t!) and looking after his wonderful winery in the Hawkes Bay – Askerne Estate Winery.  If you are a lover of good New Zealand wine, you must try any one of their delicious wines, and if you have a sweet tooth like me, than do try their wonderful and award winning dessert wines!



Fiona | Board Members | ProfessionelleSpeaking of wine, and it seems to be a theme here…the other wonderful board member who left us recently was Fiona Fenwick.  Fiona moved from Auckland to sunny Marlborough, where she and her husband – yes, you guessed it! – are growing grapes and where Fiona also lends her warmth to special occasions in her role as a marriage and civil union celebrant.

Fiona has had a very long involvement with Professionelle, starting with her attending one of our networking seminars in about 2008 or so. Some of you may have heard Fiona speak about personal branding and reputation, both for us, and in other capacities.  We are very grateful for Fiona’s support over the years, her wise words on reputation and managing our public image, and we are very excited for her in her new endeavours. We know Fiona will continue to support Professionelle and the work we do, and are grateful for the connections she has made for us over the years.

Image result for sylvie thrush marsh


We are also saying good-by to our lovely Board Secretary, Sylvie Thrush Marsh. Sylvie takes the most detailed notes that keep us honest! She is a fresh thinker who has brought her youthful perspective to our discussions and debates. Significantly, along with Amanda Clinton, she has made a huge contribution to developing and administering Professionelle’s Mentoring Programme throught its first year. Sylvie will stay involved with many of our initiatives though.  Lucky us!


‘The new’

We are truly delighted to welcome two new members to our board, Emily Turnbull and John Hanna.

The gorgeous Emily hit the ground running when she MC’d for us at two of our public events last year.  She is funny, witty, and gosh she works hard!  Emily is passionate about people, and helping individuals and companies be as engaged as they can be.  She hails from the world of media, and has extensive experience working across the media sector.  She also has her own consulting company called Engaging Me that is all about delivering better results through meaningful connections between customers and staff.

We are very lucky to have Emily as one of us, and already see the difference she has made to the way we approach and run our public events.  Stay tuned as Emily will continue to do her funny and heart warming MCing, as well as bringing a lighter touch to my reasonably serious approach to facilitation 🙂  Indeed, Emily will be helping me co-facilitate our first workshop for 2017, an intimate affair focused on self-insight.


John Hanna joined us partway through 2016. He  is CEO at the Network 4 Learning (N4L).  Yes, we kept it easy for ourselves by appointing another John to replace a John!

On a more serious note, John is an engineer by trade and an inspiring leader.  He brings the perspective of a CEO who is passionate about diversity and matches his actions to his words.  John is certainly pushing us to think hard about how we engage with decision makers and with men specifically, and we are certainly game to take on the challenge.  So stay tuned about some different initiatives coming out from the Professionelle team.

And our other hard-working trustees?

Well, we are all running full-on in various different, but consistent, directions.

Jayne Muller | Board Members | Professionelle

The wonderful Jayne Chater continues her amazing work as an executive coach and facilitator with Altris, New Zealand’s premier executive coaching group, who specifically focus on transition coaching. Jayne’s particular interest and expertise lies with mothers returning to work.

Jayne takes lead responsibility for looking after our corporate partners whose contribution makes possible much of what Professionelle offers publicly.  Jayne and I have also been working with our mentors on the mentoring programme and loving every minute of it!


Amanda | Board Members | Professionelle


Amanda Clinton, who started out with us as our Board Secretary, is now a fully-fledged, effective and fun board member!  Amanda has the best laugh, truly.  She co-ordinates Professionelle’s Mentoring Programme and we are in the process of collecting feedback, so stay tuned for some insights from this programme that has been running since June last year.

In her day job, Amanda certainly walks the talk as a adviser at the University of Auckland for women in engineering  And we are very excited about her news that she will be getting married shortly. We just love your contribution, Amanda!



Marisa | Board Member | Professionelle

Our Chair, Marisa Fong, needs very little introduction. She was the steady hand guiding us as we transitioned to a Charitable Foundation, from the time we started designing the process, through the significant trials and tribulations to make it happen, to where we are now.

Marisa is a very hands-on Chair, who organised the fund-raising fashion event last year  (Look Your Best to Be Your Best) and was interviewed by Hannach Ockelford as part of our launch of our Self Insight for Success book – if you were there you will remember her moving and authentic stories.

Marisa is very busy at her day jobs as chair of Entrepreneur Organisation and as my business in partner in our new venture, TBC Partners.  Marisa and I started this boutique advisory business to work with owners in the SME space. We take a person-centred approach to working with privately owned businesses, offering intensive support for owners via a head, heart and hands approach: business strategy (head), execution (hands) and alignment of business and life goals (heart). I consider myself very lucky to be working along side her!


And we, the founders?

Sarah | Board Members | ProfessionelleSarah Wilshaw-Sparkes has over-achieved her dream of publishing a fiction book by publishing two in the last year!  Check them out; they are great fun, romance infused with history and mystery.  I loved reading the first one, and am looking forward to indulging in the second… great holiday reads to help us dream of the South of France, wine and romance. Talking of books, Sarah has also been the force behind Professionelle’s series of career advice books – the first of which is now available on Kindle, too!

Not one to rest idly, Sarah is now a partner with Stakeholder Strategies, doing what she loves and is excellent at, namely strategic consulting.  For Professionelle, she tracks our finances, nurtures this website and, as our chief editor,  is the reason you are reading this article and getting the newsletter.  Sarah, really, you are the glue that binds this thing!



Galia | Board Members | Professionelle

And me? Well, alongside Professionelle and TBC, I am currently working on writing my PhD thesis on the mind-body connection and its impact on our health and wellbeing.  I also promise to share, and am planning to facilitate, a workshop on my research insights to our members later on in the year. This is very much in line with the role I take on the Board of leading our IP development.

For many years, I’ve worked as an executive coach to professional women and men, drawing on the principles of positive psychology to help people reach their potential. I love blending my hands-on coaching insights with the latest research (yes, I’m a bit of a geek, like my co-founder!) to produce into action-oriented advice that can make a difference to others. Sometimes that’s through developing and leading workshops and seminars, sometimes through articles here on 0ur site.


Over and out, and back to my day job now.  Looking forward to seeing as many of you this year at one of our public workshops and networking events.  We will be releasing the schedule soon and hope to see you there!



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