Podcast Series: The Path to Female Leadership

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) has identified women’s empowerment as one of its main strategies for achieving sustainable development. In April 2020 COL launched the Commonwealth Wise Women mentorship project as a strategy to build a foundation for female leadership.

Through this project, COL is engaging eminent women as role models, who mentor women at the early stages of their career, and girls at the grassroots level in under-served communities, to become successful in their field of interest as well as to excel in leadership.

The project (i) engages successful and influential women in leadership roles to build the capacity of young women leaders (ii) builds trust across cultures among the women in the mentee-mentor partnership, (iii) leverages relevant tools and resources to support young women’s empowerment and (iv) creates networking opportunities for young women. Through mentoring women and girls, this project endeavours to inspire them to become leaders and influence the next generation of leaders.

COL’s efforts to build a foundation for female leadership has been taken a step further by the introduction of a ten-episode podcast series where female leaders from across the Commonwealth will be identified and invited to share their stories on the path they followed to leadership. This series will bring insights into the life story of these leaders as told by themselves. It will address challenges, encouragements, difficulties, opportunities, distractions, and blessings visited upon these women as they made their way to where they are today. It will also examine circumstances of gender oppression and inequality and other forms of inequality experienced by them and will look at how these women have overcome and triumphed.

The podcast series is hosted by Dr Ann Wallace, Higher Education Management & eLearning Specialist. This series of ten episodes will feature Dr Wallace speaking with prominent females from each region of the Commonwealth to discuss “the road to female leadership”; conversations about the path to leadership and development as a female in the education, business, government, non-government, entrepreneurship, and health sectors.

Each episode will be released weekly, so check this page or COL’s Social Media starting 13 April 2022 to listen to the episodes.

Episode 1: Female Role Models and Home Training – Leadership Prep?

In this first episode in the Commonwealth of Learning’s (COL) CommonwealthWiseWomen (CWW) podcast series, Dr Ann Wallace speaks with Mrs Motun Ige, Principal of Ibadan International School, Nigeria. They discuss family life, education as a foundation for development and gender equality at home for promoting equality in society.

Episode 2: Lead From Where You Are

Dr Wallace is joined by Dr Luz Longsworth, former Principal of the Open Campus University of the West Indies. Dr Longsworth shares her experiences and perspectives on pursuing her dreams, finding role models and being one’s authentic self. Listen to this episode to hear more about how to “lead from where you are”.

Episode 3: Born to Lead

Judy McCutcheon of Blue Inc, a Caribbean organisation that improves employee experience and engagement will discuss with Dr Ann Wallace about women in STEM, leading by example, overcoming barriers and self-confidence. With over 20 years of leadership experience, Judy shares her insights on being “born to lead”.

Episode 4: Leading with Heart

In this fourth episode in the podcast series, Professor Diane Gibson, Professor of Health and Ageing, University of Canberra, Australia, talks with Dr Ann Wallace on “Leading with heart”. They discuss being unafraid to try new things, embracing change, seizing the moment, and combating imposter syndrome.

Episode 5: Where There’s No Trail – Blaze On

Miss Samantha Tross, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and the first black female orthopaedic surgeon in Britain, joins Dr Ann Wallace on today’s CWW Podcast. This episode discusses the importance of having a support network, being focused on your goals, and the balance between work and life. Listen to this episode to hear more about the variety of medical specialities available and more insights about Samantha’s professional and leadership journey.

Episode 6: The Rights to Lead

Leadership should be based on values and not egos. Ms Elizabeth Kité, Founding CEO of Take The Lead Tonga and Serial Entrepreneur and Dr Ann Wallace discuss the essential factors needed for influential leaders. They talk about embracing your community, prioritising time for your mission and yourself, knowing the importance of culture, tradition, and ancestry, and realising that everyone can be a leader.

Episode 7: I’m A Woman – Watch Me Lead

Dr Ann Wallace chats with Ambassador Margaret Mensah-Williams, Namibia’s Ambassador to the USA, about resilience, self-confidence and sticking to your convictions. Listen as they discuss overcoming adversity as part of the leadership journey and how to take the initiative for self-development. Ambassador Mensah-Williams also talks about recognising life lessons and character building for success. Listen to the engaging episode titled “I’m a woman – watch me lead”.

Episode 8: You’re a Leader When Those You Lead Benefit from Your Actions

COL’s very own Prof. Asha Kanwar is today’s guest, chatting with Dr Ann Wallace about seizing opportunities for empowerment, lifelong learning and focusing on skills development and education. The topic of this episode, “You’re a leader when those you lead benefit from your actions”, encompasses being authentic, drawing on one’s own values and the privilege of serving others.

Episode 9: Condition Your Mind for Leadership

In this penultimate episode, Dr Ann Wallace discusses the topic of “Condition your mind for leadership” with Dr Nneka Abulokwe, OBE, an entrepreneur in technology and digital governance and CEO of Micromax Consulting. They discuss women in business, pursuing technology, having self-confidence and independent-mindedness. And Dr Abulokwe shares about overcoming learning disabilities and earning respect as a leader.

Episode 10: Leading with Humility and Truth

IThe final episode of the Commonwealth Wise Women podcast features Professor Rajani Naido, Professor of Higher Education Management and Director, International Centre for HE Management, University of Bath, UK. She and Dr Wallace discuss topics such as rational thinking in times of adversity, knowing when to ask for help, imposter syndrome and having an attitude of gratitude, with the thread being “leading with humility and truth”.