Program logo of the letter W and a drop of water inside a blue triangleThe Insight – Executive Leadership for Women in Water Program is part of the commitment in Water for Victoria to focus on gender equity and to develop programs in support of women wanting to lead at the highest level. Gender balance in the sector will enrich discussions and see diverse perspectives result in better decision making and good legacy outcomes.

Insight is a highly personalised program focused on insightful self-development and learning from others. It aims to bring together an intellectually rich group of women ready to take the next step into senior leadership roles and create a collaborative and supportive peer network. Applications for the next round will open later in 2021.

This program has been designed to elevate the visibility of women in water and ancillary industries and to support them to successfully step into leadership roles at the highest level. In particular, I want to encourage women in the smaller regional rural organisations to consider this program as signalling their intentions and their long-term commitment to making a difference in the communities in which they live and work.
The Hon Lisa Neville, Minister for Water

The water sector partnered with Dattner Group to deliver the inaugural program. It is a multi-faceted, experiential program that recognises how women approach leadership.

'If you are reading this and thinking "I don't need another leadership program", "I can't afford the time away from work", or even "I am not good enough",  then this program may be for you.

More women in leadership is proven to bring a significantly greater commitment to collaboration, inclusion and a legacy mindset with deep respect for people and environment. If you never take the time to invest in your leadership, how will we realise the benefits of gender balance?'
Dattner Group

This is a program of many parts and will include access to leaders from across the sector.

Two women in office talking while holding documents.

The Insight program is designed by women for women, where a deep sense of belonging grows from discovering what women are capable of together. This transformative program is anchored in the way women want to work rather than the paradigm they find themselves working in.

The program will challenge the thinking of participants who will engage in conversations that explore future trends and emerging challenges. Structured problem solving will support working on real issues facing the water sector and the attending leadership challenges.

SHK Asia Pacific managed the application process including interviewing and short-listing of candidates for the 2020 program.

There was a thorough application and selection process for admittance to the program that is also an experiential learning opportunity.

All short-listed candidates prepared a short video presentation to support their application and complete interview-based behavioural profiling. Regardless of whether the applicant made the program, all short-listed candidates received their own individual behavioural insight report to continue their self-development inside and/or outside the program. This process was designed to be similar to an executive level recruitment process.

The Leadership Oversight Committee made the final selection decision based on the application information, behavioural profiling and a short video presentation.

The women on the inaugural Insight program’s assignment was to elevate the influence, visibility and participation of women in water. Here is what they had to say.

  • Lara Caplygin – Executive Manager Strategy, East Gippsland Water
  • Lisa Caldwell – General Manager Corporate and People, Westernport Water
  • Tanya Finnen – Manager Information Communication Technology, North East Water
  • Natalie Foeng – Chief Financial Officer, Yarra Valley Water
  • Joanna Giannini – General Manager People, Safety and Culture, Southern Rural Water
  • Sarah Heath – Chief Financial Officer, Gippsland Water
  • Bec Hemming – Delivery Manager, East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA)
  • Brooke Hermans – Executive Manager Leadership and Strategy, North East CMA
  • Sarah Holland-Clift – General Manager, Community and Catchment Services, Corangamite CMA
  • Claire Hunter – Manager, Technology Operations, Barwon Water
  • Maree Lang – Managing Director, City West Water
  • Sarah Thomson – General Manager Digital, Governance and Finance, Goulburn Murray Water

Insight participants pose at their first meeting

(left to right) Joanna Giannini (Southern Rural Water), Sarah Thomson (Goulburn Valley Water), Lisa Caldwell (Westernport Water), Sarah Heath (Gippsland Water), Brooke Hermans (North East CMA), Natalie Foeng (Yarra Valley Water), Lara Caplygin (East Gippsland Water), Tanya Finnen (North East Water), Maree Lang (City West Water), Claire Hunter (Barwon Water), Bec Hemming (East Gippsland CMA), Jacqui O’Neill (Central Gippsland Water), Sarah Holland-Clift (Corangamite CMA).

The Graduation for the 2020 Insight Participants was held in March 2021.

Insight began in 2019 as an in-person program but quickly transitioned to an online experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This presented some challenges, but also created opportunities for conversations about work-life balance and resilience.

One of the significant deliverables of the program has been the introduction of Bridging the Gap - a program where Insight women invited male executive peers to join them in ‘Elevating the influence, visibility and participation of women in water’.

Together they came up with a shared leadership capability model that forms part of the ongoing selection process criteria for the program.

A group image of the 2020 Insight participants at their graduation.On Tuesday, 30 March our first cohort graduated from the program. It is a very diverse group, with nine of the graduates from water corporations and three from catchment management authorities. The graduates are (in alphabetical order):

  • Lara Caplygin, Executive Manager Strategy, East Gippsland Water
  • Lisa Caldwell, General Manager Corporate and People, Westernport Water
  • Sarah Holland Clift, General manager Community and Catchment Services at Corangamite CMA
  • Tanya Finnen, Manager Information Communication Technology, North East Water
  • Natalie Foeng, Chief Financial Officer, Yarra Valley Water
  • Joanna Giannini, General Manager People, Safety and Culture, Southern Rural Water
  • Sara Health, Chief Financial Officer, Gippsland Water
  • Rebecca Hemming, Delivery Manager, East Gippsland CMA
  • Brooke Hermans, Acting Executive Manager Business, Strategy and Partnerships, North East CMA
  • Claire Hunter, Manager Technology Operations, Barwon Water
  • Maree Lang, Managing Director, City West Water
  • Sarah Thomson, General Manager Digital, Governance and Finance (CFO), Goulburn Valley Water

The Leadership Oversight Committee who made the final decision of Insight participants was made up of the following water sector individuals:

  • Helen Vaughan (Chair) – Deputy Secretary of Water and Catchments Group, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
  • Sue O’Connor – Chair of Yarra Valley Water
  • Jenny Paradiso – Managing Director Suntrix, a multi-million-dollar solar panel business founded by Jenny in South Australia in 2009.
  • Georgina Gubbins – Chair Great South Coast Food and Fibre, former Non-Executive Director at Glenelg Hopkins CMA
  • Pat McCafferty – Managing Director Yarra Valley Water
  • Sarah Cumming – Managing Director Gippsland Water

To find out more about the Insight program, please contact:

Julie Ann Ashley
Tel: 0436 636 587

Page last updated: 13/09/21