Oxford leadership program

Associate Professor Evelien Spelten and Associate Professor Tanya Serry have attended Oxford’s Women Transforming Leadership Program

“It was like a meeting of the United Nations, but only women.”

For one week in October, Associate Professor Evelien Spelten left her stomping ground of rural Victoria behind for the hallowed halls of Oxford University.

Evelien, from La Trobe Rural Health School, and Associate Professor Tanya Serry, from the School of Education, were nominated for Oxford’s Women Transforming Leadership Program by their respective Deans and program alumni, Professor Jane Mills and Professor Joanna Barbousas.

Representing La Trobe, Evelien and Tanya were among 56 women from 25 countries and diverse sectors, such as energy, finance, the arts and academia, who came together to build global networks and skills in leadership impact.

“If first impressions matter, we knew we were in for a treat,” Evelien said.

“Within two hours, we were singing a beautiful African song together, a song no-one knew. Instant connections were made as we removed our virtual shields and sang with all out might.”

Tanya said the program provided a great mix of personal tailored learning, group work and skills development.

“We were each allocated a trained coach to help us interpret psychometric profiles to inform our own leadership blueprint.”

“We also delved deep into the art of negotiation and how to deal productively with the wicked problems facing leadership, and especially women in leadership, in the post pandemic era.”

Both women return to La Trobe empowered to apply their learnings to their vital work in rural health, literacy and reading.

Tanya said: “I valued the strengths-based approach that filtered through the program and feel inspired to lead others through this lens.”

Evelien added: “The program didn’t just develop my own practice, it prepared me to build the capacity of the next generation of female academics at La Trobe.”