16 July 2019
Carina Zeccola is a proud local Canberran, YWCA Canberra member and former Director of the YWCA Canberra Board. She is the Managing Partner of Griffin Legal, a firm founded in Canberra 10 years ago where she provides legal and strategic advice to local and national businesses and not-for-profit organisations.
Below Carina reflects on her experience undertaking the She Leads Diploma of Leadership and Management, a nationally accredited qualification for women delivered by YWCA Canberra. Come to our information session on 22 January to find out more.
Why did you choose to undertake the She Leads Diploma of Leadership and Management?
When I first started the She Leads Diploma, I wanted to improve my skills with managing staff and how to effectively drive positing initiatives and change.
For many years, I have undertaken a self-reflective professional development plan each quarter to set goals for myself for the upcoming quarter.
At the time I enrolled in the She Leads Diploma, one of the goals I had set for myself was to take on more of a leadership role within my organisation and learn ways to manage staff in a positive way. I also had a very supportive boss who encouraged me to complete the course.
The legal industry has historically been dominated by men and most courses I had done did not take into consideration the difficulties faced by women in the workplace, including for example overcoming the perception that women in their ‘childbearing years’ couldn’t take on leadership positions.
I was confident that the training I would receive would be tailored to the challenges faced by women and delivered in a supportive environment.
When I saw the She Leads Diploma being advertised by YWCA Canberra, I felt very comfortable enrolling. I was already a member of YWCA Canberra and had attended many events such as the She Leads Conference, which I found to be hugely inspiring.
What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?
There were so many amazing aspects of the course! Self-reflection was a big one for me, as I often find that unless I take time to reflect on situations, it’s difficult to learn from those situations.
I was lucky to be in a group of diverse and inspiring women who were all very open about their life experiences. We all learnt a lot from one another throughout the course, simply by sharing stories that related to the course content – we learnt about what not to do, as much as what to do!
A key aspect for me was having the opportunity to be challenged on my goals in an environment outside the workplace, and to think about how my goals align with the goals of my workplace. The course allowed me to think about how I can have a positive influence within my organisation and with the staff I managed, in order to create and lead effective change.
How has the course contributed to your personal and professional development?
I never realised how much the course would change my personal and professional career development. While completing the course, I started to take on more responsibility both in the work I was doing and in supervising other staff. Since completing the course many years ago, I have become a Partner of Griffin Legal leading our commercial law team.
I have also recently taken on the role of Managing Partner which allows me to lead change and initiatives throughout the organisation. I joined the YWCA Canberra Board in 2017, which was an amazing experience and included setting up the Board’s Governance Subcommittee.
On a personal note, hearing from the key speakers really challenged me. Each session we heard from inspiring women who spoke about their leadership journeys and the impact their journey had on their community.
Although I came into the course expecting to develop my leadership skills, the course challenged me personally to think about what I can do to make a difference to those around me. One way I have done this is by considering how I can contribute my skills as a lawyer, including through joining Boards and Sub-Committees for which I can volunteer my skills.
What advice would you give to women who are considering the course or want to build their leadership and management skills?
Do it! Any woman who has a role that involves managing or leading other staff or teams should enrol in this course. I would encourage even those that are working towards a management or leadership position to undertake the course in preparation.
It’s amazing to see what you are capable of when you are challenged to ask the question “why?” for everything you do. Often, it leads to taking the step towards positive change. For anyone reading this and thinking of enrolling in the course – I challenge you to reflect on; “Why should you enrol in this course?”, if you can think of at least one reason then you should do it!
What changed for you as a result of completing the course?
After completing the course, I noticed a significant change in what I perceive to be the key traits of a leader. One thing I often reflect on is the differences between a manager and leader. Leaders inspire and cultivate outcomes; a really good leader will create more leaders and not followers.
Not all managers are good leaders, and not all leaders are good managers. In taking on any leadership position I always think about “why” I am taking on this role and what I can contribute positively. These are lessons I know will stay with me for a very long time.