Global Women Celebrates 10 Years of Women in Leadership

Global Women marked a major milestone celebrating 10 years of the GW Breakthrough Leaders Programme and welcoming the 2021 cohort after a recess in 2020 due to COVID-19. The Breakthrough Leader Programme is a powerful and proven women leadership programme designed to develop impactful leaders. Alumni become part of one of the most powerful networks that is intentional about building a world that normalises diversity and inclusion.

10 years ago Dame Jenny Shipley as the Global Women Chair Advisory Committee launched the program to advance women leaders’ maturity in business. “It became very clear that there were two groups, women who were about to break through and also a group of companies wanting to bring women through to enable them to deal with a diverse range of issues in the boardrooms and senior executive teams.”

Megan Tapsell, representing ANZ, opened with a karanga and mihi whakatau acknowledging the importance of the occasion and those gathered. It marked a promising start to a year filled with immersive courses, real-life projects, coaching from leading business figures and becoming part of a distinguished network within the Aotearoa New Zealand leadership sector.

The programme’s focus on deep developments and discoveries extends beyond the realms of hard skills: deep dives on participants’ sense of self are also a key element that makes Breakthrough Leaders special. Precious Clarke, a 2014 alumna, shared how the programme gave herself permission to explore how her culture was impacting her leadership potential — which resulted in a discovery that it was in fact a valuable springboard for her leadership. She mused that “from sitting in discomfort, you can move beyond and transform into a better human being.”

The post-Covid era we’re entering into requires leaders to bring a strong sense of self into their leadership more than it ever has. Natasha Dunbier, a 2021 participant, shared her anticipation for this element, noting how it’s created space as an opportunity for all leaders to “have a clearer picture of who we are as leaders when we come out of this programme” and how this will “no doubt hold us in good stead as we move forward, past the programme.”

This echoed an inspiring address from Dame Jenny Shipley, who encouraged the participants on how the programme will help them sharpen their personal tool box and unlock their unique power and influence to promote a leadership style that is “centered in who you are, rather than defined by what you do.”

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to our cohort’s sponsors, many of whom male, who recognise the need to hold space for and nurture the role models we’d like to see leading Aotearoa New Zealand through the ‘next normal’.

Antonia Watson, CEO of ANZ, acknowledged the importance of this through noting that “it does change perceptions, for definite, when people see someone who looks like them in leadership roles. It’s not about tokenism — women do bring a different perspective. In these roles and as New Zealand’s biggest Bank, we have the opportunity to collectively use our influence and contribute to the business community to make a significant impact. We’ve all got a role to play.


“Your leadership intent gives you the license not to have roles to find who you are — but you can command your own leadership self — and turn it to roles that may come your way or that you will pursue and take on” — Dame Jenny Shipley.


About Breakthrough Leaders:

Launched by Dame Jenny Shipley in 2010, Global Women’s Breakthrough Leaders Programme is an initiative designed specifically to give senior women leaders the platform to learn and level up in their careers. The programme spurs 12 months and is filled with mentoring, learning modules, online learning and team projects that will equip leaders with second-to-none knowledge and insights of both the New Zealand and international leadership experience. Not only that, it provides a unique arena in which form strong bonds with a network of 30 fellow senior female leaders and join a distinguished alumnae network of powerful and impactful women across vast industries and sectors.


About Ava Wardecki – Ava channels her love of storytelling into writing and as a director of her company, Sneaky Social Media. With a background in corporate branding, consumer behaviour, communications and a conjoint Marketing and Public Relations degree from AUT and HEC Paris, she’s worked across corporate, fashion, lifestyle and hospitality industries. Paris born, Auckland raised and a keen traveller, she’s passionate about how understanding and creating cultures can inspire and evoke change.