My time as a YWCA Canberra Board Trainee

23 September 2016

Courtney Lawler

Courtney Lawler is YWCA Canberra's Communication & Events Coordinator.

gina-zhengYWCA Canberra is committed to fostering the growth and development of young women leaders. Each year, our Board of Directors conducts the Board Traineeship Program, which provides women with the opportunity to gain experience in governance, finance and strategic management without the legal and financial responsibilities of being a Board Director. 

Here, we speak to Gina Zheng, who is about to complete her Board Traineeship, about her experience over the past 12 months.

Gina is currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Law (Honours) and Development Studies at the ANU. She is also currently the ACT Director of Oaktree and previously sat on the NSW Youth Advisory Council from 2013-15. 

How would you describe the Board Traineeship Program to someone who was hearing about it for the first time?

The Board Traineeship Program provides a unique opportunity for young women to gain insight into best-practice governance and strategic operations of a not-for-profit organisation. It is a chance to learn through first-hand experience, and build leadership through conversations and communications.

What compelled you to apply for the Program?

Firstly, YWCA Canberra is a reputable organisation and is a leader in the not-for-profit sector for gender equality through service delivery and advocacy. I saw the program as a great opportunity to become deeper involved with the organisation.

Secondly, as the ACT Director of Oaktree, I have gained thorough hands-on day-to-day management of a not-for-profit, developing skills in people and project management. I applied for the program because I was incredibly keen on gaining insights into broader, higher-level strategic management and governance of not-for-profits.

What were a couple of your personal highlights of the Program?

I had a fantastic experience working with Caitlin Sandercock, the Vice-President of the Board, who was always willing to answer my many questions and was able to provide broader contextual understanding of Board matters.

It was also fantastic to be provided the opportunity to attend sponsored Australian Institute of Company Directors Workshops.

How has the Board Traineeship Program contributed to your development as a young woman leader?

The Program has deepened my understanding of the strategic analysis and considerations of not-for-profits. More tangibly, I have gained an incredible amount of insight into the financial operations of an organisation as well as best-practice governance procedures.

What’s your top piece of advice for the next round of Board Trainees?

Go in with an open-mind and eagerness to learn, and don’t ever shy away from asking questions! Take as much advantage of all the opportunities and resources available to you, because the Board Traineeship Program is a unique opportunity that will unlikely come around again.

Applications for the Board Traineeship Program are currently open, and will close on Friday 21 October. Download the application form here.

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