Participants share their ‘a-ha’ moments at the 2023 Inclusive Leadership Program finale

Participants share their ‘a-ha’ moments at the 2023 Inclusive Leadership Program finale

November 27, 2023
Cindy Panzera

Last Thursday evening, the Drinks Association wrapped up its seventh annual Inclusive Leadership Program facilitated by Serendis. The six-month program, which included 19 mentees paired with 19 mentors, was brought to a close with a finale event held at Pernod Ricard's Sydney office.

Kristy Rutherford, Marketing Director at Pernod Ricard, who is also a member of the Drinks Association’s Embrace Difference Council and a former mentor on the Inclusive Leadership Program was the first to address the event attendees.

She said: “The Inclusive Leadership Program has been running for seven years now and we’ve had 288 people go through the program in that time. This year we have 38 participants coming from 12 different organisations and representing 652 years of collective experience, so I’m sure there have been some excellent conversations between the cohort and great experience to draw on.”

Rutherford explained that the inclusivity element of the program is about creating a pipeline of talent that thinks deeply and purposefully about inclusion to ultimately build more inclusive organisations and a more inclusive industry. The leadership element of the program aims to develop stronger, broader, more considered and more agile leaders, who are geared to make a positive future impact in their organisations.

Following Rutherford’s opening address, Julie Thompson, Serendis Program Director, took the opportunity to congratulate the 2023 program participants.

“I know from the stories I’m hearing from all of you, that there's been a deep learning, a lot of reflection and an increased approach as leaders being able to face up to the complexity that the industry presents. So tonight is about acknowledging and congratulating all of you,” she said.

Thompson went on to introduce a panel of mentees from this year’s cohort who discussed their experience on the Inclusive Leadership Program and their key takeaways and 'a-ha' moments arising from their time spent with mentors over the past six months.

Here are some of the insights that the panellists shared with the audience:

“The big a-ha moment for me was to take the time to self-reflect and actually acknowledge some of the achievements I've actually made and realise any gaps in my development aren't necessarily gaps…. they're just opportunities to learn and grow.”
- Kirsten Chan, National Account Manager, Pernod Ricard

“It was really important for me to stop pause and actually take a moment to reflect on the impact that I was having and the capabilities that I have within my organisation. This taught me to be proactive versus reactive. When you can simply ask the question, it makes things so much easier to get past and move forward.”
- Katie Gorman, Off-Premise Channel Manager, CCEP

“This program really challenged me to understand that being a nice person who is respectful and respected by the people I work with is just not enough, especially within an inclusive model of leadership. So I sought feedback from all of my leaders, and mentors - both inside the program and outside as well, and that has been a real step change for me.”
- Garrett McAuliffe, HR Generalist, Taylors Wines

“The a-ha moment for me through this program was around cognitive diversity and focusing my efforts more there. Also having the time to think about structure, my approach to my team and the broader organisation that I work in and personal reflection was important.”
- Shawn Elliott, State Sales Manager, ALM

“The reflective process from the 360-degree feedback and self-analysis was insightful. And having a mentor that’s from outside your business who can take a helicopter view and give you feedback was really helpful.”
- Ricky Bruton, National Account Manager, Accolade Wines

With the 2023 program now wrapped up, all mentees have committed to returning to their respective organisations to share the insights they've gained with their senior leaders.


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