High demand for Committee for Geelong’s online leadership program Activate, as Bisinella supports a further three scholarships in 2021

Published: 22/10/2020

Bisinella Developments will support three emerging community leaders from Lara and Geelong’s northern suburbs with scholarships to Activate #11, Committee for Geelong’s leadership program scheduled for early 2021.

The announcement follows the completion of the latest Activate program (Activate #10) which was held online from 23 July to 10 September, 2020. Bisinella provided three residents of Lara and Geelong’s northern suburbs with scholarships to the program.

The eight-week leadership course was held online this year for the first time due to COVID-19 restrictions.  The program was booked out with 20 Geelong residents taking part.

Activate supports emerging leaders in exploring the foundations of leadership. It also assists them in gaining confidence, knowledge, skills and strategies to lift their leadership capacity for personal, professional and community benefit.  

More than 100 Geelong residents have completed the program since it was launched by Committee for Geelong in 2016.

Margaret Foulkes, Committee for Geelong’s Leadership Portfolio Delivery Co-ordinator, said during COVID-19 great leadership had never been more important.

“The community looks to strong leadership that provides clarity and direction,” she said.

Ms Foulkes said Activate participants learned strategies for leading in a crisis by developing skills such as self-reflection and how to prioritise wellbeing, critical thinking, effective planning and being authentic. The program also focused on  understanding the importance of culture on behaviour.

She said the online delivery of the program attracted people looking for opportunities to develop capabilities during COVID-19.

“It also appealed to people keen to learn about and adopt different styles of leadership to benefit interactions with others.”

The program featured weekly online seminars including workshops and guest speakers: Committee for Geelong CEO Jennifer Cromarty, Cr Stephanie Asher, Mayor of Geelong, Dr Sarah Leach (General Manager Health, People & Community, GMHBA), John Hendry (Director of Student Welfare, Geelong Grammar) and Roxie Bennett (Plan.it Roxie and Leaders for Geelong graduate).

Bisinella has proudly provided 20 Activate scholarships to emerging leaders from Lara and the northern suburbs since the business started supporting the initiative in 2017. The Bisinella scholarships cover the fees for the eight-week online program.

Recently over Zoom, Bisinella team members including Director Richard Bisinella, had the chance to meet and congratulate two of the latest Activate scholarship recipients, Jo Bangles and Vicki Ross. The recipients kindly shared their journeys and experiences of the program.

Born and bred in Corio, Jo Bangles is one of the most recognised leaders in the Australian LGBTQ community. She is also a speaker, small business owner and entrepreneur.

“With 10 years of community-based experience under my belt I felt confident in leadership roles in the LGBTQ community, but I was looking to expand my skill set and learn more about this thing called leadership,” Ms Bangles said.

“The last eight weeks have been educational, entertaining and inspiring. I have met so many interesting and passionate people and had the opportunity to get to know them and their own journeys to leadership.

“I have come to the conclusion that you can be in a leadership position without really being a leader.  You can learn about leadership tools like communication and goal setting, how to have direct and clear conversations and set expectations but you may not be able to use them effectively. I have realised that great leadership comes from people who are able to leverage those tools, but have their own story of facing adversity. People who use their passion to connect with people are inspiring and that is what my goal is: to be able to inspire others to achieve their goals.”

Vicki Ross is the CEO of the Northern Geelong Rental Housing Co-operative Ltd.

“I jumped at the chance to do this program as I felt I needed to brush up on my leadership skills,” she said.

“I had no idea that there were so many levels and aspects to being an effective leader and I completely understand the learning never stops as long as our minds are open to new ways.”

“The staff, participants and presenters in the program were terrific and I learned a lot of great things from them all,” Mrs Ross said.

 “I was also inspired by the level of integrity and leadership skills displayed by the co-participants of the program. I now feel reassured that our future is brighter because they are the leaders of the future.”

 Mr Bisinella congratulated all of the participants on completing the latest program.

He said it was inspiring to meet the Activate scholarship recipients and hear about their individual journeys and reflections from the program.

“I am delighted by the overwhelming response to the program and how it has transitioned so smoothly to an online format this year. “

Mr Bisinella said the family-run, Lara-based business was pleased to be able to offer a further three scholarships next year.

“We are honoured to be able to support the future leaders of our community so they can attend such a highly valuable program.”

For more information about the Activate program contact Committee for Geelong’s Leaders Portfolio Business Co-ordinator, Victoria Strachan at victoria.strachan@committeeforgeelong.com.au