Mazzella Maniwavie reflects on her participation in the Women's Leadership Initiative

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  • Australia Awards
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Australia

Mazzella recently completed a Master’s of Science in Marine Biology and Ecology at James Cook University.

Now back in Papua New Guinea, Mazzella is keen to develop and implement education programs on the marine environment and conservation in schools, communities and online. She would like the Papua New Guinean community to gain more awareness and appreciation for the marine environment and its preservation. 

What is your overall impression of the Women’s Leadership Initiative?

I think the program provides a great opportunity to network and learn from the exchanged experiences of women from the Pacific. It also provides a platform for women to discuss issues faced in the Pacific by women leaders. As a beginner in my leadership journey, so far I have found that the whole program exceeds what I expected or assumed I would get out of a leadership training. 

Importantly, there is the mentorship part of the program, which I feel will be of great benefit to me and the WLI team clearly puts great effort into matching each participant with a mentor to guide our real issue projects.

What have been your highlights so far on the program and during the intensives?

The biggest highlight for me was realising my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader. I found an exercise in exploring values was particularly interesting because it really helped me to know myself and my leadership styles more. I was able to reflect on how it is important for a person to have a good understanding of their own personality or behaviour and leadership style, because it will guide the way I would react to situations and lead as a future leader.

My introductory meeting with my mentor was a great highlight of the program so far, especially our discussions surrounding my real issue project and how we can work together to lift it off the ground. I must say, the matching so far has been great as we had already listed tasks to achieve by the end of August, when I was returning home.

Have you learnt lessons so far about leadership and yourself on the program and during the intensives?

I found the “learning moods of life” very fascinating as it brought to my attention the difference between facts and assumptions and how this influences our way of being. Most importantly was realising that the perceptions of people are derived from different sectors of their lives and this influences how they view the world and act towards other people. This is an important concept for a leader and something I want to implement in whatever role I may have as a leader in the future. It has really made me stop to think - to define things as facts or assumptions - and has helped me to be more tolerant of different people’s perceptions and how to better strategise my reactions.

How will being a participant on this program and having mentor help you in the future with your work and your leadership ambitions?

I think my greatest goal coming into this program was to learn more about myself as an emerging leader in my field of work. Having a mentor is a great opportunity to learn and to apply my soft and hard skills in marine science. I have been particularly interested in finding the best ways to do marine education in my country and having a mentor who has a wealth of experience in community-focused education and management of marine resources is going to be a great learning resource for me.

I would like that, at the end of this 18-month mentorship program, I have created a model product that people can be educated through, starting with my closest circles and their networks.