Activate Participant: Emma
Adroit Insurance Group
Today was very different, perhaps a more nourishing and pivotal
step in our leadership journey, for the first time it felt like we
were really part of something big and important. Almost like we are
getting ready for the transition in ourselves. Albeit a short
space of time, I'm really starting to sense we are feeling the
potential for change and opportunity within our organisations,
community and personal lives. The bonds we have formed as part of a
group on the same path are becoming stronger, knowing full well
that our time together is drawing to an end.
In today's session we discussed the concept of social leadership
and how we can consider ways to contribute actively in community
engagement that build on our personal skills, strengths, interests
We began the day by getting into groups and preparing some
questions for a guest panel that would be presenting and
facilitating a question and answer later in the session. We
were then introduced to Rob Birch, CEO of Gforce Employment
Solutions and our host for this week's leadership session.
Rob gave a very well rounded introduction to himself including his
background and how he became such an influential citizen of the
community of Geelong. I enjoyed Rob's very frank opinion of how
leadership works, saying that great leaders must fundamentally be
good people, and finding your true north plays a big part in
facilitating a good leader from within.
We then heard from the lovely Rosemary White, who is our
leadership manager for Committee for Geelong. Rosemary opened up to
us about how she came into this area of her life and was very
encouraging when she explained that a leadership journey is not a
straight line, and its ok to experiment with different areas of
your life. The end result is you finish up with a career made up of
true passions that are in line with your strengths.
To finish, we heard from a very diverse panel of influential
leaders within the Geelong community. They formed a very engaging
and thought provoking question and answer session where we could
pose those burning questions. The result of the panel session was
extremely positive, with a strong focus on learning the tricks of
the trade when juggling commitments with high presence and
influence among the community. A refreshing outlook at what lies
We are now into week 6 of our 8 week course and this week the
session was hosted at Gforce Employment Solutions and it was jam
packed! First up we had Rob Birch who is the CEO of Gforce who
spent the first session sharing his leadership journey with the
group. Rob gave us a summary of the history of Gforce from its
early days in 1983 to its growth and consolidation today, for those
not familiar with Gforce, the organisation has 58 staff and manages
around 400 apprentices in the Geelong region, provides government
contracts such as Jobactive, Work For the Dole and also
professional recruitment services.
Rob's leadership journey aligned with his tenure at Gforce as he
started out as an apprentice himself albeit in the aviation
industry and joined Gforce in 1999. Over a 30 year span has worked
with only two employers, his employer as an apprentice and Gforce,
quite impressive when you take into perspective that today's
workforce bounce around from employer to employer a lot more
The key points I took out of Rob's leadership journey
- If an opportunity presents itself, consider it.
- Leaders in the community should align their contributions to
their interests and their values.
- Relationships matter, build and maintain these.
- Leaders should take a positive approach, eg: avoid the "No, we
tried that it doesn't work", instead view it as: "let's look at it
and see if this is something that can work for us now"
Next up we had Rosemary White who is the Leadership Manager at
CfG, who spoke to the group about social leadership and what it
meant to be a community leader. Rosemary also gave us some
insight into her journey from starting out as a teacher, stints as
CEO of NFPs and finally moving to Geelong in 2011 and taking up a
role with the CfG.
Rosemary spoke about The Activate Leadership program and how it
provides a framework for putting leadership into action. This week
we focussed on social leadership and how we as Activate Leadership
participants could exhibit social leadership by advocating and
becoming ambassadors for the Geelong region.
We then participated in a short exercise to identify our
leadership purpose and legacy as an individual, organisation and
The key points I took from Rosemary's talk were:
- Become an Active Citizen, eg: participate in or lead small
campaigns (to clean up your street or volunteer for a local
sporting club committee)
- Social leadership encourages Active Citizenship
We then had a panel discussion with four Leaders for Geelong
alumni who included; Philippa Bakes (LfG 12), Paul Rawson (LfG
'11), Beth King (LfG '13) and Matt Fletcher (LfG '16).
Each spoke about their experience in taking on the two year
Leaders for Geelong course and what they have gone on to do after
graduating. We as a group then had the opportunity to direct
questions to the panel or individuals about their experiences and
learnings and how they contributed to community leadership.
My key points taken from the session include:
Matt: Leadership is about influence, you can influence from
anywhere in your organisation. It's ok to fail, failure is allows
Philippa: Just do it! But you may want to seek out a mentor to
guide you along the way and don't get involved in something you are
not passionate about.
Paul: If you want to be part of and live in a community, then
you need to be prepared to put your hand up and put back into the
community. If you're looking for improvement look in the mirror, if
you're looking for inspiration look outside.
Beth: Don't try to do too much at once and tell stories, as
storytelling is a very useful tool for engagement.
Looking forward to next week's session where we will be hosted
by Crowe Horwath.