12 February 2016

A letter to whoever,
RE: My year as a member of BPW
As I find myself doing each year I reflect and write a Letter to Whoever. This year the bit on BPW got carried away so it’s got its own one.
Why join?
I joined the Warkworth club because I had moved back to the district (my home town) and it was a way to get back into the community. My mother’s BFF had been a long time member and had often spoken about it. When I quizzed her, my mum’s BFF, about joining the thing that struck me was the development courses. Not only had I returned to my home town but I’d chucked in the corporate number that came with lots of development courses and support. Speaking with mum’s BFF it occurred to me I didn’t really have a place to support my ongoing growth and experience.
So off I went with the hope that BPW would a) be a source of referrals for my new business and b) be a way I could continue to develop sans employer.
I had absolutely no idea of the reach of BPW or its incredible ability to affect change for the wellbeing of women. I had also never heard of this thing called Keys to Achievement (KTAs).
February 2015: First Meeting as a member
First impression – I’m young, nice feeling.
Sit next to a friendly lady, Tracey. “What do you do?” I ask as you do to make conversation,
“I’m the [then] Deputy Leader of NZ First”Life is better

“Oh,” should probably
know that I think, taking a gulp of my wine, who knew the Deputy Leader of NZ First lives in Warkworth – turns out everyone bar me.
Sally (WW President) says she wants to leave a legacy as a President and wants to do so by breathing some life in the KTAs. I can’t remember exactly what she said but I heard ‘capability framework’. I am a huge believer in capability frameworks having been a benefactor of one in my time at BNZ. So as we lined up for our potatoes and beef I said to Sally I’d love to be involved (Sally who I’d never met before) in the KTA project.
Then the NZ President spoke, Vicky Mee. She spoke about this thing called WEPs (Women’s Empowerment Principles). It’s a UN lead thing getting organisations to sign up to a set of principles that ultimately empower women. Hearing about it made even more excited about the KTA project. I’m a huge believer that initiatives like WEPs and the championing so many people and organisations do to pave the way for equality, also needs something that helps grow women’s confidence through growing capabilities, ie enter capability framework.
April 2015: National Conference, Christchurch
Well did I enter into the realms of the complete unknown. Lucky I had my form two teacher by my side and who was the first person I saw when I walked into dinner, the lady who taught me when I was five.
On to Saturday, there’s these things called resolutions. People get up and state their case and then some get up and go yeah yeah and others go nah nah. Something about Sea Door, what? Hang on, did someone just say that these resolution thingees can go to the UN? Whhhhaaaaaaaat? No one told me that BPW has Consultative Status with the UN. Well that’s gotta be good to make change. Sea Door, what is this Sea Door?
Phew, safer territory, the afternoon was on leadership. A mix of young and not so young (but still young) leaders in the Canterbury area came and shared their experiences. What a great afternoon, inspiring to boot.
Club Meetings
So there’s monthly meetings here and there and I find myself leading the KTA project with Sally as well as counting the digits for Warkworth. I find myself with opportunities to speak at club meetings – it’s a great boost to the old confidence and great to be public speaking again, felt like it had been an age since I had done it and I do rather enjoy it.
Popped into the Wellington meeting, to hang out with the President who gives me a warm welcoming hug and huge smile. That’s pretty cool. Can’t remember exactly why Vicky was in town for, think it was to present to the select committee on something with Hellen (Vice President Issues) and the next day meeting some Minister and head of department…can’t recall who or what about but all with the BPW hat to make change for the better…gee this BPW outfit has some reach.
Lucky I didn’t ask this lady Louise what she did for a job. She’s the Minister of Women’s Affairs (I did recognise her).
At the end I mention in passing to Vicky I’d be keen to speak about financials at the upcoming Leadership Forum if that’s ok (remember the aim of BPW helping to grow my business and profile).
October 2015: Leadership Forum
Day one: awesome topic on influencing, something that from time to time I struggle with. Could be the dollop of diplomacy lacking? Alas, it was a great day and some great material to take away and reflect.
Day two was the BPW members flexing their talent. Okay it did start with me using some theatrics and what an amazing safe environment to spin your trainer wheels. But sitting in groups and discussing topics and learning from each other’s experience was amazing. Sometimes lessons are best in small snippets. For an aspiring board member I will forever remember the guidance of Anne Todd that if you are the chair and there is a dividing issue with a split vote, the Chair should vote for the status quo. With furrowed brow I question if this is right especially if you were the one to put the suggestion/resolution forward. Anne points out how divisive would I be as the chair to vote when clearly there is still discussion to be had on the point. Within days of the forum I saw for the first hand a contentious decision by a board going very ugly because the chair sided one way when clearly it was a divided board…to this day it’s not pretty.
Again these resolution things popped up. This time we went through the Yellow Book, full of resolutions from years gone by. Is that what happens after AGM, they just sit in a book? Maybe they go to the Sea Door? …there it is again…mmm right, I’m going to do something about this big lack of knowledge as to how these resolution things work.
Wellington Lunch
So I’m in work for Wellington so I asked Hellen if she’d walk me through the resolution process. As you get with the BPW spirit, “absolutely” is the reply, “Can I take you to the airport too?”
Once and for all she walks me through how to take an idea/passion for change from my head, right through to the UN. An amazing session that I promised (despite delays) to write down my understanding. Refer Appendix A…there are still gaps in my understanding but I’m more up to speed now.
Over several pieces of blank A4 I scribbled pictures and diagrams on how BPW effects change, like truly effects change. As someone at leadership forum said, “Influence for good”. Pretty impressive and I look forward to sharpening my resolution pencil. Actually, I look forward to picking up a pencil and writing a resolution one day, maybe getting the opportunity to go to a Select Committee, oh and of course New York and Egypt.
Oh and it turns out Sea Door is CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
February 2016: Wired
That KTA project has been bubbling away.
Feedback on the KTAs was obtained. Then Sally and I sat for a weekend over a couple of pies and a few beersies, finishing with master chef quality pork belly (mmmm, the GROWme. WELLBEING perspective may come in handy). We now had a concept plan for a capability framework GROWme.
So 365 days from joining I found myself (having done the Warkworth digit update) in front of 44 people (record crowd!) talking them through the concept. Wowzers! What an amazing night. A theme of GROWme. is Members for Members. We had Bronwyn launch Brain Fit, something she jumped on the band wagon following the success with the Pukekohe club. Then we had our members identify skills they might like to learn. By nights end we had someone willing to put together a module on Communications – what is it? Someone wanted help on how to mentor young people – enter Jo who is going to help put together a module on coaching. Many wanted help with social media. Enter new member Gaye who shot up her hand to say I can help.
Six new members signed up on the spot, talk about record breaking night.
It’s fair to say I was wired that night resulting in a very poor sleep.
Wrap up
So I set out wanting a place to get back into the community – yep tick.
Referrals for the business – mmmm? That said I have no doubt BPW is great for my profile and I’ve used it (inadvertently but that’s A okay) to pilot training material for my ‘Know your Numbers’ course to be launched this year. So yep tick.
Development – bucket loads. What a safe environment to get out there and try stuff. What amazing opportunities and avenues BPW opens up that I’d never thought of e.g going to a select committee.
See here comes year two.
Charlotte Nevill
Submissions light

  • Wait for the Newsletter (due out any day) for link to Beginners Guide to Submissions


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