Testimonials - Women in Leadership course

Professional, Life after OB

After completing our Women in Leadership course, Anna, Lisa and Stacey share the learning they could take forward into leadership and the adventures they had on our Women in Leadership course in the Marlborough Sounds.

What’s your leadership journey to date? 

Anna   

My background is in data, information and archives management. I’ve been involved in several all of government programmes aimed at leading change across government. I joined the Ministry two and half years ago as Specialist Advisor Data and Information Strategy.

I’ve recently made the transition from working in the advisory and strategy space when you lead through influencing to a role with formal management responsibility leading the Information Management team. MPI has provided many opportunities to grow and practice my leadership skills and I’ve tried to take up every chance I’ve been offered.  

Lisa   

My background is in law – I worked in corporate law for Linklaters in London during my OE after university but then decided to follow my true passion into public service and advocacy and criminal law – I joined the Crown Prosecution Service for England and Wales in 2004. I spent 8 years prosecuting, 5 of those in management roles, most recently as one of the six Senior District Crown Prosecutors for London.

I had overarching responsibility for the boroughs of Westminster and Chelsea, the London Traffic Unit, the City of London and Economic Crime Team and the British Transport Police unit. It was a big and busy job, but I received a lot of support in the form of training mentoring and professional coaching sessions.

When I returned to NZ I was fortunate to land a prosecutions management role with the Ministry based in Dunedin near my family, which I started 15 months ago. I am responsible for the Prosecutors in the Central and Southern regions, managing remotely over 5 offices. I have a fantastic team of lawyers and work with a great bunch of people in the Dunedin office.  We are all genuinely passionate about the work that we do.

Stacey   

My background and Qualification is in Counselling and I also have several years’ experience in retail management. A series of events lead me to MPI covering as a temp on reception at the Operations branch (Auckland Biosecurity centre) and I planned on being there a few weeks- Three and a half years later I’m still with MPI!

I have been fortunate to have had great managers who put the time in to my development and I have grabbed every opportunity to grow my skills, learn about different aspects of MPI and progress into leadership. I have recently been appointed as Team Leader Live Animal Coordinator for Verification and services. 

 

Why did you apply for the programme? 

Anna   

When I was first approached about applying for the Outward Bound by a couple of people my gut reaction was, ‘no way that’s so far out of my comfort zone, I can’t do that’. However, the more I thought about my initial reaction, the more I realised this is exactly why I need a challenge like Outward Bound. I saw Outward Bound as an opportunity to do some experiential learning through a well-recognised and respected programme.

Lisa   

It was very much a spur of the moment decision – the reminder email popped up in my mailbox on the last day for applications. I had just returned from bereavement leave having lost my grandmother the week before on June 21st and I thought she would have liked to see me do something like this… I have no idea why – she knew I was not particularly sporty and liked my home comforts! If I had realised what I was getting myself into, I may have thought twice about it and then never done it, which is why it was opportune that I didn’t have time to do any research or time to think about what I was getting myself into. As they say on Outward Bound “if you have to eat a frog, you don’t want to look at it too long”. (Not that we had to eat frogs!)

Stacey   

The idea of having an adventure and being challenged excited me. I want to continually grow and not remain the same. As my leadership role at MPI is a new one I saw this as a great opportunity to learn and develop in areas of leadership.

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What does the course consist of? 

All

The rumours you’ve heard are true, but sometimes the ‘fish’ isn’t as big other people will tell you!! We fitted a lot into the 8 days and no 2 days were the same. We don’t want to give too much away and spoil it for the next person but be prepared for everything and when you get there take a chance to give everything your best shot!

 

What was your most challenging part of this course? 

Anna

Giving up control and living right in the moment, because you really didn’t know what was coming next.

Lisa

Not falling over or overboard! (I was the clumsiest women on our course)

Stacey

Facing the unknown! Also…. no hair straighteners, mobile phone, or a hot shower when you wanted one!

 

What activity pushed you to your limits? 

Anna

Rowing the Cutter for hours when we didn’t have any wind pushed me to my limits physically. At the same time it provided me with plenty of opportunities to practice and observe leading a team through challenging and constantly changing times and demonstrated the importance of working as a team and clearly defining peoples roles. 

Lisa

All of the activities pushed me to my limits to a greater or lesser degree, which was what was so fantastic about the course. I learned so many new skills and achieved a number of personal bests. Leading and working as a team under quite intense circumstances was a challenge but also so rewarding when goals were reached. The activity I struggled with the most, was probably the sea kayaking. The safety drill beforehand in the water which had us upside down in kayaks holding our breath underwater for a period of time, felt so unnatural! Some of the women loved it. I was much happier right side up.

Stacey

Everything was challenging and pushed me to my limits in different ways but hands down the high ropes was the highest point of my anxiety!

 

What did you get out of the programme? How has this course helped you to become a stronger leader?     

Lisa

Outward Bound gave me the confidence to take risks and believe in my abilities. I valued and was pleasantly surprised by the 360 degree feedback from my peers and colleagues (thank you team). The solo time provided quiet space for self-reflection.  I valued the opportunities to watch other women lead in a different style from me i.e those who were at polar opposites from me on the psychometric test results. I was exposed to different leadership styles which I wouldn’t usually have an opportunity of seeing in action. For me that was one of the most valuable lessons, as I learned a lot from the other women on my course, including Anna and Stacey and our course instructors – they were all phenomenal! Watching them at work was hugely inspirational.

Stacey

Much like Lisa Outward Bound gave more confidence in myself, Confidence in my ability’s as a leader, my decision making and risk taking. I have a greater understanding of my strengths and weaknesses both in the work place and personally. I think a really important part of being a good leader is having a strong self-awareness and Outward Bound definitely set the scene for reflection and growth. I was inspired by the other leaders on this course in particular our very own Anna and Lisa- they are incredibly strong woman leaders and I have been fortunate to have spent that time with them.

Anna

Outward Bound taught me a lot about myself and how I operate. It gave me three key things; opportunities, tools and time. Opportunities to test my leadership skills in real life, tools to use in my leadership practice and concentrated time to reflect on what kind of leader I want to be.

What is the most important thing you will take away from this course? 

Anna

Outward Bound’s motto is ‘there is more in you’. The experience offered me so many opportunities I would never have in real life and the facilitators pushed us hard to realise our potential. The most important thing I’ve taken away from Outward Bound is real experiences that prove to me I can do more than I think I can and often the only limitation is me, my mind-set and my confidence. I’m working hard to ban the words ‘I can’t’ from my vocabulary.   

Lisa

Learning “to strive, to seek to find and not to yield”. And like Anna, understanding that there is always more in you.  We are capable of so much more than we think. This course teaches you that and to have the courage of your convictions on so many levels.

Stacey

There is so much I have taken away from this course but mostly a deep sense of achievement.

 

What’s your advice for other women within MPI aspiring to be leaders in the future or others presented with an opportunity to go to Outward Bound?

Anna

Take a chance, put your hand up and give it a go. Sometimes we limit ourselves by thinking too much, as Lisa said earlier, if you’re going to eat a frog it pays not to look at it too long!

Lisa

Just do it. Carpe diem! People told me that it would be one of the most amazing experiences of my life and they were right. I can’t sell it any more than that. It is an incredibly worthwhile experience and I feel so lucky to have been one of the women selected for the scholarship. 

Stacey

Be brave. Grab the opportunity before it disappears, you may not get another chance. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

We would like to thank our managers Rebecca Easterbrook, Tracey Strangman and Olwyn Crutchley for giving us their full support, Martyn Dunne for creating this opportunity and for your words of support, and the Organisational Development team and committee who selected us to attend this Outward Bound Woman’s Leadership course. We are extremely thankful and changed forever by this experience.