PWN Global Presidents’ Blog: Recover, Reinvent, Rebuild – Thank You!

February 10, 2022by Carina furlong0

Looking back on the last two years, there is one word to describe it: Transformational.

In these two years we moved from survival to sustainability.

When we stepped into our roles as Co-Presidents of PWN Global in 2019, we positioned our leadership for our two-year mandate around the core principles of Trust, Transparency and Collaboration. These core principles have been the guiding light through very murky waters over the last twelve months. Words are powerful; however, to have behaviours attached to those words is where the impact really happens. We have endeavoured to build and practice behaviours that support our three core principles. This was not easy.

As the global pandemic took control, we navigated our way through many challenges, lockdowns and losses together. We operated in a VUCA environment (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity). This past 15 months has been surreal for us all, and we all did our utmost to find the way towards a brighter future. The situation provided an opportunity for our community to demonstrate agility in terms of how we adapted to working individually and collectively during a period of uncertainty. We all struggled at some point and yet there were so many glimmers of hope and understanding of the importance of a support community.

This was true for both of us too, as every Friday without fail we spoke for an hour, one of us based in Co. Kilkenny, South East of Ireland and the other in Amsterdam – there was laughter, there were tears, there was a meeting of minds as we collaborated together. The global nature of our organisation was amplified as our virtual reality brought us closer together to create long-term value and build a more sustainable future.

Difficult decisions were made. We had to take the decision to make some key staff members redundant and move towards a service contractor model. This decision was not taken lightly as there was a very real human cost. That was the most difficult decision made during our mandate.

On a personal note, with our term of Co-Presidency coming to an end this week and with us both having served a total of 14 years within a variety of roles in PWN Global, we are proud to leave behind a sustainable and strong network that is well-positioned to move forward and continue achieving great things. We feel honoured and privileged to have been entrusted to lead it.

We did not lead alone. We are grateful to our Executive Team – Susannah Haan, who served as our General Secretary, and Marie-Catherine Boinay who served as our Treasurer. Their support, encouragement and professionalism has been critically important over the course of the past two years. We came together every Wednesday without fail – bringing the cities of Paris and Brussels into the mix of our virtual meetings. It was these consistent meetings that gave us the energy, motivation and purpose to keep going.

We are also grateful to our wider Global Board colleagues – Patricia Zeegers (VP Entrepreneurship), Emma Olahan (VP PR & Fundraising), Grazia Santagati (VP Technology), Funda Sezgin (VP Engaging Men), Virginie Martins De Nobrega (VP Strategy) , Bente Fjeldberg (VP New Networks), Chloe Figg (Co-VP Corporate Partners), Gunilla Bjorner (Co-VP Corporate Partners), Georgeta Dendrino (VP Mentoring) – who were based in a variety of locations, adding Barcelona, Dublin, Sydney, Istanbul, Oslo, Bucharest to the diverse cultural mix.

Last but not least we are grateful to all 29 city networks that make up our organisation. Their Presidents and Boards, our Global Volunteers, our Corporate Partners, our Knowledge Partners who are all part of the DNA of our network.

We want to take the opportunity to acknowledge all volunteers who support our organisation. We give of our time because we believe as a network in a strong purpose – to accelerate Gender Balance Leadership in Business and Society. To coin Elizabeth Andrew ‘volunteers do not necessarily have the time: they just have the heart.’ And heart and passion is what led us here. We salute you all!

On a final note, as the most pivotal support system of all, we thank our families. Your consistent support, guidance and patience has enabled us to execute this role. Thank you for sticking with us 🙂

The change in leadership will bring new energy to push forward and bring PWN Global into life after the pandemic. A lot of work done and a lot more to do.

We wish the newly elected board, and the Network, every success moving forward.

Carina Furlong and Sheila Gemin, Co- Presidents PWN Global, June 2019-June 2021

Carina furlong

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