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Celebrate and Recognise Women

It's International Women's Day (IWD). I have sent off some Australia post prepaid postcards to some special women in my life to say thanks. They will get there late, but better late than never. What a fantastic promotion in that Australia Post will donate all proceeds during this month of March to the not for profit charity, Indigenous Women in Business IWIB. As the newly appointed Sydney Ambassador for Indigenous Women in Business, I’m so very honoured to advocate and support the many Indigenous women who are working in business or aspiring to take their business idea to the next level.

With IWD in mind I'd like to recognise a truly amazing woman who mentored me, taught me, guided me and supported my journey to where I am today. I gained the foundation needed to progress under her leadership.

I'm dedicating this blog post to Viv Dale. Just over a week ago, I got to sit down for the first time in what seemed like forever with Viv. We shared a cuppa and a chat. We keep in touch through Facebook and the odd text here and there. She follows me on Facebook, liking and commenting on what I'm up too. And it makes me feel good that she still takes a genuine interest in me.

Viv Dale and I

Viv Dale what can I say. Viv is the Manager Organisational Development at North Coast TAFE. I first met Viv in 2009 when I sought her for some advice about developing my leadership skills. I remember thinking how warm and friendly she was, she spoke softly yet kept it real. After missing out on an internal opportunity, I was looking for a new direction, and I later joined Viv's Organisational Development team in late 2010 in an acting capacity as an Organisational Development Coordinator.

That was one of the most daunting experiences of my career. I left an Aboriginal identified role working on Aboriginal learning partnerships to step sideways into a mainstream role that had nothing to do with being Aboriginal or supporting Aboriginal people. I had a Bachelor of Adult Edu and my Cert IV TAA, but my focus throughout my career had been completely Aboriginal focused.

I started slow, but with the support of Viv I was able to gain confidence in my ability and grow as an individual. I initially came up against prejudice, as I was breaking down stereotypes of the types of roles Aboriginal people could hold, and breaking the pigeon hole mentality that I could only work in an Aboriginal identified focused role. Viv was always in my corner encouraging me. During that time, I learnt that you could have just as much as influence and make an impact on Aboriginal affairs when you stepped out into the main.

Viv was and is still the type of person you could talk to about everything. She created a culture within our office, we would break and sit down for cups of tea and she would often bake for us. I loved her muffins and cakes. If someone was celebrating a birthday she made a big deal, she made birthday cards, bought us presents and would bake a delicious cake.

She was a shoulder to cry on, to push us when we needed it. She would go into bat for us against the politics that existed in a large organisation. Her honesty and transparency were always clear. She cared about me and all of her team.

It's through Viv that I broaden my skill set, my knowledge of Organisational Development and really started to learn my craft. She coached me through a facilitation program, gave me opportunities to shadow my colleagues and learn from them. And would coach me on my own development goals.

When Viv gave me the North Coast TAFE leadership and management initiative to project manage and develop I honestly was scared. A number of people had tried to get this off the ground, but everyone had failed. I was scared I would fail too. But I was determined to prove myself. And with Viv in my corner, I knew she wouldn’t let me fail.

Viv worked hard with me, and the working group, and we jumped through every hoop that was thrown at as.

Sometimes it was very hard to develop something that was so organic and user customised. It wasn't black and white. It took over a year, but we got the first program off the ground. And I later won a demonstrated leadership award for my role in achieving what no one else had been able too.

But honestly I couldn't have done it without Viv there by my side. She really was the wind beneath my wings.

I learnt my facilitation craft from Viv and how to design programs – two very things I use in my business almost daily. But ultimately, I learnt from Viv the leader I wanted to be. To be selfless, that you can lead from behind, and true leadership is developing those around you. Giving opportunities and coaching along the way.

Viv you're an amazing woman. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for me, and how you continue to support me on my journey.

So this International Women’s Day, I ask you to reflect, and think about all the women who have helped you along your path. Shout out to them, recognise them and give them thanks.

Viv is just one of the many women who have been there and continue to be there for me. I can only hope I can give as much to the next generation of young women developing and coming through. I guess that is another reason I am so excited to be part of Indigenous Women in Business, so that I can advocate and support other women just like me.

Happy International Women’s Day – Enjoy.