Hello wonderful IWFA Sista’s,
Let me start by congratulating our new Board Members Bronwyn Klei, Maria MacNamara and Maxine Morand and thank our retiring Board Directors Cathy Doyle and Chris Gilles. It is my absolute pleasure as your President to carry out the year in review. At the 2017 AGM, the four priorities we had agreed as a Board were:
The Melbourne Conference - what a truly outstanding event that was. At the recent global conference in Miami, Australian delegates were still being inundated with glowing compliments regarding our warm welcome, our cutting edge content and our embodiment of a caring and courageous sistahood. Well done.
New Members – we have increased our membership to 139 members and continue to focus on the diversity of the collective. We have worked to ensure that we are creating a dynamic and organic sistahood. One that allows each of us to Connect as Women, Grow as Leaders and Grow the Next Generation of women leaders. Personally I know I am networking and supporting women that I would never otherwise have had the opportunity to meet. This year for example we welcomed our first ever Astronaut to our collective in South Australia.
Membership retention/engagement – our 95% member retention and a similar figure representing engagement reflects the fabulous work of our state councils. So far this year we have run 50 different events across our states.
New Communication Channels and Language. As a Board we are absolutely thrilled with the adoption of Workplace and the high readership rates we are getting on our quarterly newsletters produced by Nikki. It was so heart-warming to be at the recent President’s Council in Miami and hear more and more chapters talking about the “sistahood”, about IWF being “more about the Net than the Work” and building on the values we embrace here in Australia.
Turning to 2019, your Board met recently in Hobart for our Annual Board retreat. There we reviewed the year past. I’m happy to report that the values, purpose and frameworks set up by our Founding Board have stood the test of time. We then looked at the feedback we received from our membership survey and have incorporated this feedback into our 2019 priorities as a Board. The Top Five Priorities for 2019 are:
The IWF Australian inaugural Symposium: Responding to many requests from across our membership, we are tremendously excited to hold the Symposium on May 3-4, 2019 in South Australia. The event is about coming together as one sistahood to connect and grow. Hopefully you have already marked these dates in your diaries and responded to the survey we have sent out this week. Watch this space!
Membership Diversity: We are committed to continuing to focus on diversity and be truly representative of the Australian Community. We have identified the need to attract women from Indigenous and other underrepresented cultural backgrounds, female military officers, CEOs of ASX listed companies and returning global Australians who have built their careers overseas. Of course all candidates will be weighted against our stringent membership criteria.
Membership Centricity. You, as fabulous members, are the heart of IWFA and we, as a Board, are naturally very focused on making the membership experience the best it can be. We firmly believe that the true value proposition of membership is something that can only be felt to be understood. We committed to ensure we are sharing more IWF stories at the onboarding stage and will produce a video for new and prospective members using our voices, our passion and our language.
Growing the Leaders of Tomorrow. Our fabulous Chrissy Gilles is going to lead a pilot program in Melbourne for aspiring emerging women leaders to learn from both the professional and personal experiences of our members. We have been thrilled at the very high response rate the Mentoring Letter has had amongst our members. Thank you to so many of you for wanting to be involved.
Sustainability and succession planning. This is a high priority topic for the Board and the Nominations Committee. Over the next two years we have all remaining Founding Board Directors transitioning out. We have been initiating these as per the successful transition of the Membership Director role from Cathy Doyle to Maria MacNamara via a supported six month handover period. We will follow this model for the Treasurer and Communications roles throughout 2019. To ensure the sustainability of the Board and chapter (and to align with the many global chapters who have a President Elect, President and past President on the Board), we would like to identify the new President and agree this at the Adelaide Symposium. This member will then become President Elect, begin the induction and be formally recognised and approved at the 2019 AGM in November 2019. The past President will stay on the Board for the first year to support the new President. Thus, I will retire as per our Director terms at the end of 2020. We extend an invitation to our membership to consider joining what we is a know as a fun, dynamic and supportive Board in any of these roles. Please put your hand up and have a chat with your State Chairs, or reach out to me with expressions of interest. Personally, there have been incredible learnings and amazing friendships from my time on the Board since our formation. To further the good governance of the board we have invested in a new Operations Manager with an expanded role and responsibilities. Welcome Amanda Laver.
Finally, I wish to thank the Board, the Melbourne Conference Committee - so well led by our wonderful co-chairs Michelle Loader and Karen Hayes. Most importantly, thanks to all of you, our members, for all that you do to make IWFA a unique and special place. A platform on which we can stand together as diverse and exceptional women leaders, and take on the world.
My warmest wishes,