Alumna love | “Lessons From Emerging Leaders Bootcamp” by Pooja Jain

“When we support each other, incredible things can happen”

This is exactly the realisation I had during my emerging leaders boot-camp with The Dream Collective.

The Dream Collective is an initiative to drive long-term and sustainable change in women’s representation in the corporate landscape. I was fortunate enough to attend their emerging leaders boot-camp in Sydney that covers topics from mastering inner dimensions, design thinking, building a personal brand, the art of storytelling and purpose driven leadership.

It was an opportunity to learn from women who have broken the glass ceiling as well as the ones who are passionately making their way towards it in their respective industries. It would be difficult to summarise everything that I have learnt and how it has influenced my attitude but I would like to share with my network some insights from the boot-camp.

1) Mastering Inner Dimensions

“All experiences hit emotion before logic”

Our first day at the boot-camp was an intense reflection of our inner strengths. We often think that our external environment influences our behaviour, decisions and reactions but what we don’t realise is that our subconscious mind, our beliefs and values influence these decisions more.

Each of us read through a detailed analysis of our emotional quotient and it gave us a good sense of understanding about our beliefs and biases that are helping us grow or bringing us down. Our beliefs and emotions are the basis of the ladder of conclusions and a wrong mindset can easily push us towards a biased conclusion. In hindsight, the first day was mentally exhausting but it also provided the most insights in to ourselves and I keep revisiting the lessons to remind myself about the bigger purpose.

2) Design Thinking

“When stakes are high, creativity takes a backseat”

Now that we had a better understanding of our inner strengths, it was time to use these in practice. Design thinking is a topic that most companies use for their products and services but it was interesting to see how design thinking process can be used for personal and professional development. The core of design thinking process remained the same, which is to create a valuable design. A design that is desirable, viable and feasible. The design thinking process was one of the most pragmatic exercises as well as universal in its application.

Specifically, the empathy stage and ideate stage positioned design thinking different from other problem-solving methods. The empathy interviews are focused purely on understanding the problem and not jumping to a solution mode and the ideate stage is suggesting solutions without the fear of judgement. I have personally experienced how difficult it can be to do these activities but with design thinking you are consciously doing this.

3) Dinner with a Mentor

“You owe the world to live up to your potential”

As part of our boot-camp, we had the opportunity to have dinner with an accomplished female leader and our cohort had dinner with Dr. Rachna Gandhi (Executive General Manager for Customer and Digital at Suncorp Group). Our general assumption with accomplished personalities is that they have every move of their life planned but when we spoke to Rachna, she had something different to say.

She believed more in doing and moving forward versus planning everything. Her stint as a CEO for Service NSW came at a time she hadn’t planned for it. She took the opportunity when it came and learnt how to deal with it while moving forward. It taught me a valuable lesson about courage and that you can’t always be ready, sometimes you just should take a leap of faith.

4) Mastering Outer Dimensions

“Progress is better than perfection”

Last day of the boot-camp was all about outer dimensions. We discussed the importance of a personal brand, our image and perception among the people we interact and how can we tweak these through small changes. The important bit was to not lose your authentic self. A personal brand is not a different identity, it is highlighting the strengths and acknowledging our weaknesses. My favourite bit was on how our network should look like.

Personally, networking is not an activity I am comfortable with and it usually drains a lot of my energy. In this activity, I learnt that building a network is not about meeting new people or socialising but looking for people who could be your advocates. It was a simple exercise to find who are your promoters, who could be your butt-kickers, your pit crew and your teachers. Once I could identify the purpose of networking, the activity didn’t seem that daunting anymore.

In conclusion, it was a great opportunity to stop and reflect. It was great to meet these amazing women who are doing such amazing and inspiring work in their best capacity. It was exciting to see the efforts that are being put to encourage women leadership in the corporate landscape. There is a lot more work that needs to be done but an initiative like this will accelerate the process so that the future generations of women would hopefully not need programs to make them believe in their capabilities because they wouldn’t know anything different.

P.S. The quotes were shared during the boot-camp by various participants and presenters.

Written by Emerging Leaders Program 2018 participant, Pooja Jain.


A few places are still available to our Emerging Leaders Program in Melbourne this October 22-24th & in Sydney November 13-15th. For more information, get in touch with ushere.


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