On Thursday 29 June, the National Association of Women in Construction (ACT) launched its ‘CEO Shadow Program’ representing a unique opportunity for aspiring female leaders to learn firsthand from some of the most dynamic and successful leaders in the construction industry.
The program commenced with a ‘meet and greet’ hosted by Wisdom Learning, in which the Shadows met their CEO’s and participated in a structured development session to kick off the program. Jemma Butt, Project Engineer at GEOCON who is participating as a Shadow in the program, says she hopes to gain an understanding of the reality of being a CEO in different organisations within the local construction industry. Jemma said ‘I think this program is an invaluable opportunity to learn about different career pathways to the CEO role, based on the mentors’ experience and their knowledge of the industry.’ At the program’s launch, Jemma said she was most excited about being exposed to the different ways of approaching corporate management and work-life balance.
As part of the program, shadows have the opportunity to spend two full days with their respective CEO’s to gain an appreciation of the activities and problems faced on an ‘average’ day of a senior leader in the company. In looking at the driving force behind the program, Lisa Dart, President of NAWIC ACT says she was always very fortunate in her career to have always had the support and comradeship from managers, peers and colleagues. Lisa says she launched the program to open the doors for women in the industry to experience the mentoring and sponsorship that she continues to receive, ‘I took a tested framework and with the help of Jana Clyde at Wisdom Learning, who now facilitates the program, we modelled the program to fit the vision I had for the Program here in the ACT.’
Lisa Roberts, Co-founder, Owner and Managing Director of Provincial Plants and Landscapes, who is offering her time as a CEO in the program says she would have loved the opportunity to pick the brains and model the behaviour of other successful professionals through a program like the NAWIC CEO Shadow program. At the launch of the program, Lisa said ‘I’m sure it could have saved me a lot of time, mistakes and stress by delving into the workings of an inspirational organisation and seeing what it takes to be a CEO and leader and how to grow a great business and life without having to reinvent the wheel.’ Ms Roberts describes the CEO Shadow Program as an innovative and flexible way to ‘learn a lot and receive a lot quite quickly’, saying it is a ‘win-win for both parties who each teach and learn, share and develop.’
Ms Dart says she has crossed paths and worked with many successful and influential leaders in this industry and it became very clear to her that there was an eagerness on behalf of leaders to share knowledge and experience, and provide unconditional support and guidance. Participants will have the benefit of leadership development training by Wisdom Learning, to complement their ‘shadow’ days with the CEO’s. Ms Dart says it was important for both the CEO’s and the Shadow’s to work toward ‘key learning outcomes’, hence the development sessions incorporated into the program. Ms Dart says ‘I wanted the group to connect and create a lasting support system and reference point. I wanted it to be a journey that was fun, rewarding and memorable. I wanted it to open opportunity for our potential future female leaders.’
This is the second year that the program has been running, and Ms Dart says she’s proud to see the return participation of last year’s CEO’s as ‘this signifies to me that the program is a success and the industry endorses the philosophy of the CEO Shadow Program.’ The program will conclude on 24 August with a graduation and reflection session, and shadows will be awarded Certificates of Participation at the annual NAWIC (ACT) Awards for Excellence on 15 September. NAWIC thanks its sponsor of the program, the Training Fund Authority, for its invaluable support.