The Wonderful Wins of Activate’s Christchurch Alumnae


Our leadership programmes speaks to the power we have both as individuals, and as part of a collective. 

A recent reconnection of our Activate Leaders Programme alumnae was a true testament to this. Not only did six of our wāhine from 2021’s Activate make connections to last a lifetime, a dinner revealed that they had all advanced in their careers with promotions and role upgrades. 

We caught up with the women to explore these exciting new chapters and what stands out from their time in Activate. Thank you to Nada Unterschuetz, Sama Hall, Jo Lloyd, Sarah O’Hagan, and Juanita Victor for sharing their inights.


“At the time of undertaking Activate, I was a Senior Manager, looking after a team of 12 Relationship Managers and Relationship Associate in Business at ANZ Bank,” Jo Lloyd shares in conversation with Global Women, “at the end of Activate I moved into a Capability Design role, building Credit Capability for staff in ANZ Business.”

Also enjoying a promotion in ANZ, who also happens to be a Global Women partner organisation is Sarah O’Hagan. “I was in a Leadership Specialist role with ANZ, and now I am a Senior Manager leading a team of 10 and Leading the Leadership portfolio for ANZ.”

Another incredible internal move was made by Juanita Victor, also part of a Global Women partner organisation: “I was a Director at PwC and now a Partner,” she shares with us.

Sama Hall of Hellers, another member of the cohort, enjoyed a transformation that involved more leadership. “When I started on the Activate programme, I had been working in my team for about 8 years. I was part of the team without any immediate reports and doing a small evolution of the work I had been doing previously. Following Activate, I still have no immediate reports but I’m now a senior member of our team and have a direct link with our CEO, working alongside her and our executive team on our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG streams).” 

This elevation of skills into new projects was echoed by Placemakers’ Nada Unterschuetz: “I was a people manager during the course and now I’ve become a Business Process Specialist for a large IT transformational project within the company. I truly enjoy the new role and different types of challenges.” 

A moment of realisation

As for the moment our alumnae realised they’d all made upwards strides? Excitement and elation was felt across the board. “We were all very excited for each other when we realised around the dinner table that each person had a change/step up!” shares Sarah, echoed by the cohort, who described feeling “amazed and proud,” and “surprised and very happy for everyone being so successful” share Jo Lloyd and Nada respectively. 

“Activate really gave us some great tools. So it seemed totally normal that this would then lead to… roles to be more in line with the type of leader they want to be.”

“It was absolutely amazing to hear everyone’s great stories and I was stoked for all,” shares Juanita, who shares the power of reflection. “Our get together was a time to celebrate shared successes and what we have learned in our now positions.”

It wasn’t totally surprising,” shares Sama. Activate really gave us some great tools of how to become better leaders and coaches, so it seemed totally normal that this would then lead to people changing their roles to be more in line with the type of leader they want to be.”   

Lasting impressions

“…Great to reflect on what you are good at, what you love to do, what can get paid for and what the world needs.”

Activate’s focus of crystallising, exploring the “why” and “how” in your own leadership purpose has left a lasting imprint on the alumnae

“[It was] really interesting for me and something that I catch myself thinking about from time-to-time, trying to define it further and re-adjust the definition of it,” shares Sama, who also muses on how communication plays into this. “To be an effective leader you need to understand how you communicate information and how others receive your communications. Sometimes you need to adapt.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Sarah, who says “I often think of the purpose session – still yet to have the one liner purpose but great to reflect on what you are good at, what you love to do, what can get paid for and what the world needs.”

Onwards and upwards

“It is something I come back too and reflect on regularly.”

For Jo and Nada, Activate’s Ikagai exercise proved valuable. Ikigai and thinking about my own purpose and that it needs to be aligned with my job,” was a key musing from Nada. “I really enjoyed the concept of Ikigai and it is something I come back too and reflect on regularly,” shares Jo.

Reflection and reframing are also part of this equation. “Reframing thinking when I am disappointed on how something went to thoughts of being courageous” is something Juanita now uses in her day-to-day, echoed by Nada who points at the art of  “trying to silence the inner critic.” 

Jo and Juanita also muse on cherishing the togetherness that Activate brings, where “the connections made” and “that others experience similar challenges” are cited respectively.

It’s clear that connection with the self and others is a key, and we can’t wait to see these wāhine pay testament to this throughout their next steps and beyond.