A transformative journey
My participation in the Women Transforming Leadership Programme was truly transformative. My journey began with a meaningful conversation with Shing-Wai Wong, who eloquently introduced the programme's objectives. The materials provided aligned perfectly with my aspirations for self-development and leadership growth, especially as I transitioned from a communications director to a government senior manager and entrepreneur, during the period of applying for the deputy supervisor district role for the Elections System of the Virgin Islands of the United States.
Having previously attended an Oxford Programme and being familiar with its calibre, my expectations were high, and the programme exceeded them. The programme's specialisation for mid-career women leaders strongly resonated with my preferences. As participants, we embraced a holistic journey toward self-development and self-awareness. This encompassed strategies to surmount career obstacles, personalised coaching, and global networking with diverse women leaders. Every facet of the programme held value, notably the personality test. The test offered profound insights into strengths and growth areas, further enhanced through coaching sessions, illuminated areas for improvement while reinforcing our strengths, and empowering me to remain effective. Programme Directors Kathryn Bishop and Gayle Peters stand as remarkable mentors in my experience. Ms Bishop ensured our focus and organisation throughout the programme, while Gayle propelled us to critically envision the change we aimed for in our communities. Kathryn and Gayle acted as catalysts, creating a stunning transformational experience at a pivotal juncture in my career.
Since completing the programme
Since the programme, much has transpired. I was chosen as deputy supervisor (St. Croix District) for the elections system of the Virgin Islands at age 30. This position enabled me to adeptly lead a civil servant team during a transitional phase. Initially, I tackled voter confidence restoration and navigated a digital transformation. Concurrently, as deputy supervisor, I reformed financial processes, supported by the strategic leadership concepts and worksheets I'd learned in the programme. These resources guided my team interactions, secured buy-in for necessary changes, and advanced the System's mission, amplifying the impact of the dedicated staff's existing effective processes. As the programme centred also on personal development, I learned extrinsic techniques in work-life balance at that time as the mother of a 3 going-on 4-year-old son. Through the programme as an entrepreneur, at that time I was going on 5 years (I have been in business now for coming up to 15 years) as the chief executive officer and owner of a business consulting company, The Whitaker Consultant Group, offering services in legal research and drafting and litigation support, political analysis, non-profit administration & management, marketing, event planning, professional/technical career consultation, and internet media broadcast production and management and most recently as of 2023 adding services in government relations. I had the fortune to obtain perspectives on business development from fellow entrepreneurs in the programme, through which we shared experiences we face as women business owners in obtaining clientele in which understanding our leadership style plays an important role.
In my next major role, one that spent over a decade in preparing as during the programme we mapped out our professional career, I prepared to run for public office, as a Senator in the Virgin Islands Legislature. My first run for office in 2018 was unsuccessful as I placed 8th place, shy of the 7th place spot (in the Virgin Islands, we elect 7 persons to serve in each district), in serving in office, a highly charged environment, through the techniques I learned during the programme, I was able to effectively assist hundreds of constituents, craft and pass several pieces of legislation along with the support of several of my colleagues in the areas of education, healthcare, and economic development reform and other critical areas. As well as dedicated members of my team assisted with the execution of several special projects in youth development, women's rights, food security, energy reform, and other areas to improve the quality of my fellow Virgin Islanders.
During the programme, we learned to be courageous and push through chaos and confusion, tapping into our inner consciousness and used a number of techniques developed during the programme as well as those I obtained through my participation in other programmes as it motivated me to pursue professional education. One day I would like to take part in another programme at Saïd Business School, particularly to assist me on my next journey.
For any woman navigating her career journey, aspiring to acquire tactics and strategies for propelling herself into substantial leadership positions, I wholeheartedly recommend considering this programme. In one word, to describe my overall experience: metamorphic, as it paved the way for my continued ascent as a conscious leader within my community and the global arena through my presentations on the international stage. In conclusion, I found a sense of belonging - an unforgettable experience. The knowledge I gained is now woven into my daily life, pushing me to strive for elevated roles, and fostering ongoing personal growth and development. This extends to my service as a governmental leader, a former elected official, and an entrepreneur - encompassing my overarching role as a community leader within our society.