The Olympic Council of Ireland, aided by funding from the Olympic Solidarity programme ring-fenced for the promotion of diversity and gender balance in Tokyo 2020, brought world-class leadership expert Gabriela Müller Mendoza to Dublin in October to speak to women involved in leadership roles in a wide range of Olympic sports.
OCI executive member and Athletics Ireland president Georgina Drumm introduced the Swiss-based speaker at the start of the two-day workshop in Croke Park by relating her own experience at a woman in sport forum organised by the European Olympic Committee in Lithuania.
The conference covered leadership styles, presentation and negotiation skills and building self-awareness and confidence as leaders in Irish sport.
“I truly believe that if you want to start changing the world you start to make changes yourself – that’s the lesson learnt from history,” Müller said.
“The women who really take on what we’ve done here and apply these skills, these are the ones who will change their games and the leadership around them will also feel this impact and make positive changes.”
The following article with Müller, which appeared in the Irish Times, reflects the event: https://www.irishtimes.com/sport/other-sports/the-tiny-woman-with-big-ideas-about-female-sport-in-ireland-1.3284648
Some of those who attended also gave their personal impressions:
“This event has been life-changing. It has totally changed my outlook and vision. It’s given me tools and confidence and shaped my language which is so important when you’re negotiating. It has given me a sense of self-worth and I think I’ll be more ambitious and confident now. I’ve been totally inspired and would do something like this again in the morning if asked.” Bernadette Quinn, Irish Clay Target Shooting Association
“We looked at the way people act and learn differently, and how we ourselves can work with people in different ways, that it’s not just about doing things in our style but about learning to work with people the way they naturally operate. We are all working in different roles in different sporting organisations but Gabriela really encouraged us to take a step forward, move up in our roles and embrace them. We were empowered to be leaders.” Trish Mayon, PR, Events and Participation manager at Swim Ireland.
“This was not a regular ‘women in sport’ event. It was much more focussed and the advice was much more practical. I learned about personality types which is really useful going into meetings and we learnt so much about our own presentation skills. It was also really useful for networking and putting faces to names. There were people here who I’ve badgered on emails and they didn’t put two-and-two together! It’s really nice to meet other women working in sport.” Niamh O’Gorman, Triathlon Ireland.
“I’m more aware now of some of my strengths and how to leverage them. It’s also great to have networked with other women here. I wouldn’t label it as a ‘women’s’ event. I think it was more about equality. The energy and power in the room was fantastic and, after just the first day, I felt I’d found my tribe here. You really felt you were among like-minded people but with lots of different personalities and power. There is so much power to be harnessed by sport when we come together and there was a great sense of communal power here.” Maria O’Regan, Snowsport Ireland
“Confidence is what I’ll take away most. I have more belief in myself. It’s been very inspirational. I’m more confident in myself and the organisation as a whole after doing this and believe we are going in the right direction. Gabriela inspired me to believe in myself and take the next step in my career, even if that takes a little bit of time. I learnt that I need to find the confidence and courage within myself.” Sarah Crowe, Project Manager for ‘One Governing Body’ (Golf)
“I’ve learned what I’m good at which is very helpful because, when we’re always looking to learn, sometimes we don’t acknowledge what we’re good at. I also learned a lot of skills about communication and presentation and considering the other person’s point of view when you’re approaching them. It was also good to recognise and acknowledge where your counterparts and peers are at in their sports. Sport is constantly evolving and I think we can always learn and move forward.” Eimear Flannery, IRFU Women’s National Teams Programme Manager.
“Even though a lot of people here are very accomplished there are still lots of ways to become more effective, to be better leaders and stronger influencers. People were already in great positions but we’ve learned that we still have a way to go. Gabriela was very effective, especially in the role-playing I’ve read a lot of books about leadership but actually playing it out and practising it really shows where you’re unconsciously making mistakes and sometimes lessening your power.” Roisin McGettigan, Olympian, women’s health advocate and founder of ‘BelieveIam.com’
“This has been truly inspirational. I was lucky enough to be at a seminar with Gabriela previously, for International Women’s Day in Lausanne, and this has reinvigorated me. I’m running a programme in schools to teach girls to row and also rolling out a new ‘Olympic Values’ education programme in schools. This has reinforced that we’re doing the right thing and also personally empowered me.” Michelle Carpenter, women in sport and Development Manager with Rowing Ireland