Tasneem Chopra

So the Aspire program is a leadership program for young Muslim women, and it's run by Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, and it's been funded by the Lord Mayor's Charitable Fund. This program is targeting young Muslim women across Victoria who demonstrate a capacity and a desire to want to lead effectively, both within their internal communities, but also within broader societies.

Group

... two, three, Aspire!

Tasneem Chopra

I think the devolution model that the Aspire program presents is actually walking the talk of what a leadership program does. The Associate Program Managers of the Aspire program are past graduates, who are now being skilled to just the next level, to actually run the program.

Teba Mazin

Yeah, day one. We had our orientation day.

Meutia Widodo  

First time we worked together, and probably-

Aya

Literally.

Teba Mazin

Yeah. In action.

Meutia Widodo

... all six of us.

Teba Mazin

In action.

Teba Mazin

All of the APMs, we had an idea of what our role is going to be in the Aspire program, but I'm entirely sure where we're each going to fit, and how each of our strength or skills will play a part in it.

Meutia Widodo

We realised that dividing our tasks into three categories would be a lot more efficient. So myself and Maria manage the media and advocacy portfolio. So photography, videography the normal stuff.

Aya

Oh, you can do that?

Natura     

Oh, what is involved in organising-

Meutia Widodo

And then we've got event management, which Teba and Aya had a handle on. And then the last category was evaluation, which [Natura 00:01:28] and Maria were a part of.

Teba Mazin

Knowing how to facilitate a workshop that's really engaging and inclusive, and at the same time allows for people to be all safe to just share their thoughts and share their opinions, I think that's one thing that we've, all of the APMs, have developed and grown on.

Aya el Kady

I think one of the biggest personal challenges for me was remembering that I'm not a participant anymore. And during discussions, rather than actively participating, I have to facilitate and shape and mould the discussion without impeding on the integrity of the participants.

Speaker 5

Look, no matter how much training we get with facilitating, every time with a different group, you're going to need different skills.

Tasneem Chopra

There was a lot of engagement with external stakeholders, including people who got to teach the participants about governance, about skill sets, whether it was in program design, and just the kind of knowledge that you need to have a very holistic approach to leadership.

Meutia Widodo

So one of the [inaudible] events that we've got on this year was the Iftar dinner. For me, it was about developing the soft skills.

Teba Mazin

Cool. What needs to be done?

Speaker 8

We need a centerpiece.

Teba Mazin

A coat rack.

Speaker 8

And waiting for the flowers!

Speaker 5

Oh, flowers.

Teba Mazin

Oh, flowers.

Meutia Widodo

Just picking up some stuff like the professional way to communicate with an external organization or ... Yeah, just the skills that I feel like I can't really learn in school.

Tasneem Chopra

You're very lucky to be able to be sitting in a room with highly competent and accomplished CEOs; in a room with women, who, themselves on a fast tracking to be highly accomplished, themselves. So it was kind of like watching the future evolve. It was pretty cool.

Aya el Kady

Towards the end, at graduation, we had a focus group with the participants. All of the feedback that we received, personally, I anticipated it. We were a previous participant of the program, so we know how it feels when you're feeling overwhelmed with a project and you don't know what to do, and I think as an APM, your role is to troubleshoot issues before they bring it up themselves.

Meutia Widodo

I knew that they had stressed a lot about the governance project, and so for them being able to present their work at the end of the year at the graduation. Yeah, we're very proud. We're very proud of the girls.

Teba Mazin

What we've learned about leadership, it's not about my own growth and development as leader, but also how do we empower and support our team so they can grow as well?

Tasneem Chopra

I think there's merit in having leadership programs that are curated by communities for communities. So whether you have young Muslim women, whether you have young African women, you have young Sudanese woman, for example; whatever that particular cohort and group is, providing them with the infrastructure to lead the resources, the networks, I guess the manual or the almanac of how it's done, both in theory, but in practice, I think ensures that all those minority communities are actually going to have the best possible opportunity.

Video ends

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