How future Illawarra leaders are gaining more knowledge and experience

The Illawarra Connection’s October networking dinner at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach recognised graduates from the 2014-2016 cohort of the Leadership Illawarra Program.

Leader graduation: Leadership Illawarra Program 2014-2016 cohort graduates with RDA Illawarra chief executive Debra Murphy and the program's outgoing executive officer Karen Bain. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Leader graduation: Leadership Illawarra Program 2014-2016 cohort graduates with RDA Illawarra chief executive Debra Murphy and the program's outgoing executive officer Karen Bain. Picture: Greg Ellis.

Regional Development Australia (RDA) Illawarra oversees the innovative program for new and aspiring Next Generation (NextGen) Illawarra leaders. They come together to learn and grow for their own and the region’s benefit.

RDA Illawarra chief executive Debra Murphy said the initiative involved a combination of master classes, leadership coaching, mentoring support and site visits. It is also supported by many mentors within the business community.

“It is a two year experiential program that really fosters our emerging leaders. Over the last two years the participants in this cohort of the Leadership Illawarra Program have all grown, learnt, developed and been inspired. They have been through a lot together. They have formed a really strong bond together. I am sure they will continue to be the next generation of leaders for the Illawarra,” Ms Murphy said.

A third cohort of participants is about to start their own Leadership Illawarra Program two year experiential learning journey in November. There are still a few places left for the initiative supported by the University of Wollongong’s Sydney Business School and The Illawarra Connection. The graduation at Tuesday’s black-tie dinner was also a chance to say farewell to the program’s executive officer Karen Bain.

Michael McKeogh, of Fibre Optics Design and Construct, spoke on behalf of the graduates and said participants quickly learnt that leadership is an abstract term and meant something different to everybody.

“This was an experiential course which means they put us in front of all sorts of organisation and different people who shared their experience of leadership, running their organisations, motivating their teams and reaching their goals. That has been an amazing experience for us. One of the organisations we visited was Microsoft in Sydney. It was a real eye opener to see the way they ran that organisation. And we have met regularly with mentors who have helped us on a one-on-one basis,” he said. Further information at www.leadershipillawarra.com.au.

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