The alumni dinner is my favourite event of the year
It’s where Take on Board: KickStarter and Take on Board: Accelerator alumni come together to share stories and connect. I really do love getting a good group of women together to share, inspire and cheer each other along.
It has been three years since I’ve been able to bring the alumni together. So this means almost 100 new members didn’t get the chance to come together with the rest of the alumni..
So, this alumni dinner was a big deal – for me and the fabulous women that have ‘graduated’ from my group programs. It was the first time I’d met some of these women in person.
As most of you know, at the end of each year I reflect and set new intentions using the RSVP process (Take on Board podcast episode 129). After two years of isolating, I decided that there will be more hugging in 2022. I was hugged a lot at the alumni dinner! I made sure it was safe to hug. I did a PCR test the day before. I asked the alumni to do a voluntary RAT before they arrived.
The unexpected networking opportunity in the headshot queue
The alumni began to arrive around 6.30pm. They grabbed a drink and joined the queue to have their headshot taken. A good headshot is always handy, particularly when applying for board roles. So, I arranged to have photographer Shaney set up a space and do the headshots before the night got underway.
There was probably more chitchat in that queue than in the ‘official’ drinks and canapes space.. People chatted to the person in front of them, then the person behind. They spoke to people they probably would not have otherwise met. It was fabulous to watch.
How many of us have struck up a conversation – or even a friendship – with someone in the queue for the loos? I may have the details wrong, but I interviewed someone who ended up job-sharing with a woman she met in the toilets. They were in the building to be interviewed for the same job.
As for the headshots, they took around a minute each. Shaney is a pro. She was fixing people’s hair. She was right up in people’s faces. She made people feel comfortable, as you can see by this great shot of Tonya Scibilia puckering up for the camera.
We’ve got you – we’ll stand with you
Next was the Welcome to Country from Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Ringo, who’d arrived via motorbike and walked into the room with his helmet under his arm. Many said that was the highlight of the evening.
Uncle Ringo shared a powerful story about dispositional trauma and grief experienced over generations. It was an awful story, but it also contained hope for the future. He asked us to stand with them. He asked us to use the power that we have as women on boards to stand with them.
I have asked for a copy of the story, which I will share with the Take on Board community.
I booked Uncle Ringo through the Wurundjeri Corporation. I always do an acknowledgement of country at smaller Take on Board events, but I will commit to book an Elder to do the welcome at any major event.
It was definitely a highlight for me too. As he was leaving, I said “don’t worry, we’ve got you – we’ll stand with you”.
I live, learn and work on the traditional land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and dignify their stories, ancestral history and continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging. Sovereignty has never been ceded. It always was and always will be Aboriginal land.
Then we sat down to dinner
I minimised formalities. There were no formal speakers. This is just an opportunity to come together.
Dinner was held at the Angliss restaurant at 550 Little Lonsdale Street in Melbourne. Students from William Angliss Tafe prepared and served us dinner. I love a good social enterprise, and this is a particularly good one. Everything was perfect.
After dinner I asked people to move to a different table so they could meet different people. I love to keep things moving.
Then after dessert we held a ‘board marketplace’, which is a regular fixture at Take on Board breakfasts. Around 6-8 alumni grabbed the microphone to talk about new board role openings.
The original KickStarter alumni made an appearance
A highlight for me was seeing three of the six original Take on Board: KickStarter 2014 alumni. From left to right: me, Anna Chung, Nicole Kepert and Melissa Clarkson.
Anna is on the Jane Goodall Institute Australia board. Her term is about to end so is looking for a new role. Nicole is on the Cat Protection Society board. She found out about the board role at the 2019 Alumni Dinner! Melissa is the chair of Juno, an organisation that works with women and gender diverse people in Melbourne’s north who are experiencing homelessness or family violence.
I love hearing about where people are at on their boardroom journeys!
I had a great night…
Thanks to all the fabulous women who joined me on the night. There was such a buzz in the room. There was a lot of table-hopping. Phone numbers were exchanged. There was a lot of talk about current board role opportunities.
The alumni have access to the very active Take on Board community through:
These groups play a big role in supporting our boardroom journeys.
The Take on Board podcast sits at the core of this community. It’s where I explore topics suggested by community members. I announce events and special opportunities. You can subscribe through your favourite podcast app. I would love it if you would share an episode with a friend who might be interested. Ratings and reviews are also welcome.