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Women’s Leadership Development Programme Provides Dedicated Opportunity

A diverse group of 24 current and emerging women leaders from Auckland’s sport and recreation sector came together recently to take part in a new initiative – Aktive’s Women’s Leadership Development Programme (WLDP).

The 18-month programme began with a two-day workshop at AUT Millennium on Auckland’s North Shore. The WLDP providesa uniqueopportunity andenvironment for learningthat supportswomen to further develop their confidence and leadership competencies and step up and make an impact in the sport and recreation sector.

Dr Sarah Sandley, CE, Aktive opened proceedings: “It’s incredible to see these brilliant women who are going to benefit from this unique opportunity. This will challenge them and build their confidence so they can amplify their leadership and increase their impact and influence in the sector.”

Sarah Cowley-Ross, a WLDP facilitator describes the programme as being created to “increase the number of women in leadership positions and work collectively to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls in sports and recreation.”

Dr Sandley adds: “The WLDP is going to address a critical issue for women that is often missing for them – social capital, meaning career enhancing networks and high-status mentors. This programme has been structured to give women the confidence and connections to go out into the world to achieve more.”

WLDP lead and facilitator Simone Spencer echoed this, talking of her own experience: “I competed in athletics and surf lifesaving and never saw a woman in any position of leadership beyond being the club secretary or administrator. I would love to see more opportunities be available for women so they can build their confidence and networks, enabling them to be the best version of themselves in whatever way they want to participate in sport and recreation.”

The 2021 WLDP participants hail from a diverse range of organisations including Blind Sport New Zealand, NZ Rugby Union, Women in Sport Aotearoa and Yachting New Zealand. 

Alysha Jebsen, Netball NZ, reflects on her experience of the first two WLDP workshops.

“I got real value out of the networking with all the experienced women from around Auckland. It really felt like we were developing a supportive sisterhood in sport which really helped with building my confidence. I loved having the space and time to reflect on my own leadership behaviours and what I can take back to put into practice in my own workplace.” 

Another participant, Nicole Terrill, Bruce Pulman Park said: “ I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Women’s Leadership Development Programme. Having the opportunity to be in a room with like-minded women was incredibly refreshing and really positive. The facilitators were inspiring and relatable, and I’m looking forward to what the next 18 months brings.”

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