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As of April 2009 the ICF Australasia has been formally in existence for ten years. This is a significant milestone in both the development of the organisation and with professional coaching in our Australasian region.
What a wonderful opportunity this is to acknowledge, share stories and celebrate the time and energy that has been invested by many, many people over the past ten years.
It was a grand exercise to extend an invitation to everyone who has served on all the Regional Leadership Teams across the years to join the 10th Anniversary Celebration evening at the ICF Australasia Conference in Adelaide early September 2009.
And it was magical to have representation at this Celebration from each of the teams. The aim of the formal part of the evening was to weave short stories from the leaders of each era to portray where we have come from to where we are today.
So let's head back to our auspicious start – the first volunteer group in the region met late 1998 and then formally incorporated the ICF Australasia entity in April 1999 under the leadership of Christine McDougall. Joining her was Margaret Krause, Carly Anderson, Audrey McGuinness, Deborah Sullivan, Christine Edwards, Steve Maconachie, Michael Goot, Robert Gerrish and Steven Buckman.
Representing the formal years of 1999-2000 we honour and welcome Christine McDougall and Audrey McGuiness, two of the drivers on this team.
Christine, we honour you as a very special and unique woman in the world of coaching and we acknowledge your enormous vision, leadership and courageous energy to dare to care and to make a stand. We extend an abundance of gratitude to you for being who you are. And now it is perfect timing to ask you how this all really started?
It started with me attending the 1998 ICF Conference in Phoenix Arizona. At this conference I met all the founding coaches of the profession, most of who were involved with the Board at the time - Cheryl Richardson, Lara Berman Fortgang, Mad Homan, DJ Mitsch, Marcia Reynolds, John Seiffer, Stephen Cluney, Jeff Raim, Laura Whitworth, and others. I went up to John Seiffer, then President, and told him in no uncertain words that the "I" in "ICF" was missing and who were they kidding.
A few weeks later I was invited to be part of the main Board as the first non US member. I flew to Orlando Florida for the first meeting of the Board, which was also where the ICF and the PCMA (Professional Coaches and Mentors Association) were united, and decided with the other board members to go back to Australia and start a local ICF Chapter.
I did this sending out an invite to the people I knew at the time who were coaching. Most of these people had gone through the first or second of the CoachU live programs in Australia, namely Carly Anderson, Audrey McGuinness, Robert Gerrish, Michael Goot, Marg Krause, etc.
Representing the next Regional Board era 2001-2002 under the leadership of Margaret Krause, she was joined by Christine McDougall, Audrey McGuiness, Carly Anderson, Josie McLean, Deborah Sullivan, Christine Edwards, Steve MacConchie, Nigel Smith, Juliette Robertson and reps from Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. It is a pleasure to welcome Marg, and Graham Hoult – a man very energetically behind the scenes during those next early years.
Margaret, we honour you as an extraordinary woman, always on the ready to have fun, an adept driver, resilient and a visionary-cum-make it happen, particularly for those Conferences in Australasia. Thank you! This was an era filled with many stories.
I originally became involved with the establishment of ICF Australasia as I had entered the coaching industry and I wanted to gain experience on a Board. The establishment of the ICF Australasia helped me to further both of these aspirations.
Being unfamiliar with the terminology of roles etc I found that the role I took on being President-Elect meant that I was to be the next President of the ICF Australasia. It was never really my intention to lead the association within Australasia and I truly doubted my ability to do so after Christine McDougall's initial leadership.
After commencing my coach training with Coach U in 1998, I decided to attend two ICF conferences in USA. I can still remember the first conference I went to – not the location as such, but rather the experience. Here were 800 coaches who had various levels of experience and profiles within the coaching industry, who were so willing to openly share their experiences with newer coaches like myself. Having come from a corporate background this was rather foreign to me as traditionally my experience had been to keep all of our learning's and expertise in-house – don't share it with competitors. And yet here was hundreds of coaches who were so willing to share their knowledge and experience and share their lives by inviting me to attend their homes and meet their families – it was just like one big family!
My vision was to provide our 'local 'coaches with the same type of experience. I wasn't worried where they were being trained, by who or how. What I wanted to have was the opportunity for 'coaches of all denominations (as I used to refer to it as) to gather together in one place to share their experiences, stories, learning's and skills. What everyone did with it from there I had absolutely no attachment to. It was all about creating the opportunity. And so it evolved that our little ICF Australasia team decided to be bold enough to suggest that we could conduct our first regional Coaching Conference, the date: July 2002.
We budgeted on 180 coaches attending this first Conference. It seemed like a good number at the time! Little did we know where those first rather naive thoughts would lead us. Over the next 20 months, we worked diligently to pull together this concept into a reality. In July 2002 I proudly stood on stage at the Star City Hotel in Sydney and welcomed, not 180 coaches locally but, 400 coaches who arrived from 38 countries around the world. It was a rather humbling experience. We made a profit from that first conference – one that I was proud of and expected! It was only after the event that the conference coordinator – Lexie – said to me 'Marg do you realise most conferences don't make a profit for the first 2 or even 3 times?' Obviously I didn't – it never crossed my mind that we would make a loss.
I was reminded at the 10 year anniversary of the commencement of the ICF Australasia that I had welcomed everyone in a rather unusual manner – one that obviously made a mark on those who attended and perhaps not for all the 'right' reasons. We commenced with a welcome cocktail party and unfortunately there wasn't a stage for me to officially welcome everyone. Not to be daunted or put off by this slight hitch, I was simply helped onto one of the tables within the room where I announced to all and sundry “Welcome to my party!" And indeed it did feel like that to me. It was the culmination of hundreds of hours of work, tireless work by Lexie and her trusty support person – Forte. The teams of people we had in volunteer positions amazed me. It was an experience that I will remember for my life – for all the right reasons!
Once the Conference was over, I was more than happy to hand over the baton and move on – and not look back. There was no need – I'd done what I set out to do and realised a dream.
Representing 2003 under the leadership of Josie McLean, her prized team included Deborah Sullivan, Lois McLachlin, Linda Matuschka, Cellene Hookgenkamp, Carolyn Stevens and Karen Tweedie.
Representing 2003 it is a pleasure to welcome Josie McLean. Josie, we honour you as a very special woman, bold, caring, courageous and a true visionary. Never shy to speak out and mean what you say, you are an inspiration to us all on so many subjects and at many levels. Thank you for being who you are.
Firstly, I have a strong memory of Marg Krause. She worked tirelessly with Lexie Palmer to deliver the 1st Conference in 2002. The toll was showing by the time the Conference arrived in an almost manic energy! The welcome cocktail party arrived and there was no platform for Marg to address people from so she climbed atop a table and with great sparkle and energy, yelled to everyone “Welcome to my party!"
It was a great Conference – a new experience for many of us and I think exemplifies the large number of sequential acts of personal leadership and even sacrifice made to make ICF Australasia a reality.
My own time as President in 2003 began by arriving to a Board conference call one morning to hear both the existing president and the new Conference Director resign for reasons of personal health. I think that left about six of us on the call – rudderless. We sought help from ICF in the US to assess how we were going to move forward. Bobbette Reeder supplied coaching from afar.
Personally I can remember thinking through the contribution I might make at this time. We had two Chapters in New Zealand and five in Australia; little money; high levels of complaints about what ICF Australasia delivered; lack of clarity about what we could deliver; and the 2003 Conference just announced!
Working on the Board was feeling tough, thankless and maybe even meaningless. Everyone remaining on the Board (Karen Tweedie, Carolyn Stevens, Cellene Hoogenkamp, Lois McLachlan, and Linda Matuschka) examined what they felt they might do and after a week I stepped forward to be President because I felt I had something to offer during this time of deciding what ICF Australasia may become – if anything. Somehow it fitted with my strengths and what I felt called to be. It was a chaotic time when deep friendships were forged. In amongst the mess we also had a good time, I think!
There was a choice to be made and I knew it was a decision to be made by the membership not me or the Board. Together we “named" the issue and created a Leadership Day before the second Conference using Open Space Technology to open the conversation together and find a way forward. And find a way forward we did!
Representing 2004-2005 – the first of these years was under the leadership of Leah McLean and the team consisted of Josie McLean, Belinda Merry, Lois McLachlin, Linda Matuschka, Michael Buck, Hilary Chatterton, Sandy Gadd and Karen Tweedie.
To represent that era and the next year 2005 under the leadership of Karen Tweedie, we welcome Karen, our current ICF Global President. Karen you are a strong and powerful woman whom we recognise for being so beautifully upfront, concise, direct, and with the enormous ability to pursue the vision of transforming people's lives. Thank you so much for being who you are.
During this time the story weaves to another era with the following team serving on the Board: Marisa Dantanarayana, Doug Lang, Andrea Grey and Toni Binstead.
I took over the leadership of ICF Australasia at the start of 2005 having spent several months working behind the scenes with Josie McLean and Michael Buck to work out how we could make the Australasian Region financially viable. We decided that in order to survive we needed to be able to keep more of the membership dues collected at global level. We wrote a proposal and then went on a campaign to see that it became reality.
At that time the global Management Company that the ICF was using was not able to keep up with ICF's growth. They did not have the infrastructure, staff or support to properly service or respond to ICF Chapters on the other side of the world, particularly those with no business hours that overlapped. The long and the short of it is that despite the lack of support the Global organisation originally showed we managed to get a one-year change in funding arrangements (that lasted for 5 years) and has had the effect of putting this region on an even keel and positioned for the growth it has enjoyed recently. In return we committed to certain growth parameters around membership and credential growth, the running of a profitable conference etc. I need to be clear that we have a different management company today.
That year we had our ICF Australasian Conference in Brisbane - Josie was again the Conference Chair. We held this Conference at the picturesque Queensland University of Technology campus and managed to make it a memorable occasion which made a profit.
That year we also liaised with a number of insurance companies and got one to offer a "Coach specific" Professional Indemnity insurance - with the help of Sandee Banks the next year, we got a second insurer on board.
We also had the first "President's Tour". This meant over the year I had the honour of visiting all of our Australian and New Zealand Chapters and sharing what the Australasian Board was planning. This also gave me the great pleasure of seeing each Chapter in its "natural habitat" - a very memorable and enjoyable experience. 2005 was also the first year we had printed Membership Cards. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to learn and contribute to the growth of ICF Australasia.
Now for the era of 2006-2007 and under the leadership of Douglas Lang, his teams included Heidi Conway, Sandee Banks, Leslie Hamilton, Jane Boardman, Patti Gwynne, Martin Wilson, Jane Evans, Bill Palmer, Toni Snelgrove and Belinda Merry.
To represent this era it's a pleasure to welcome Douglas Lang and Leslie Hamilton. Doug, your leadership leveraged the organisation to yet another level. Constantly a deep thinker, insightful, creative, humble, gracious and egoless, your leadership was imperative during this time steadily centering and growing the organisation through these years. Thank you so much for being who you are.
The thing that comes to mind when I think about my time as President is structure and compliance. When I look back at the things we did in my term it was very much about putting into place some additional elements to keep the organisation moving to a more professional level.
We ran a session for the ICF Australasia Directors on their governance responsibilities; we developed and passed a new Constitution which allowed the Board to have more flexibility and to be more responsive; we put together a five year Strategic Plan including a vision and mission for ICF Australasia. I'm pleased to say that all of these elements seem to have been actively used by subsequent Boards. It probably wasn't the most 'sexy' period for ICF Australasia but I feel we put in place some elements which have allowed subsequent Boards to move things forward from a solid foundation.
I'd especially like to acknowledge the work that Jane Evans did during my period as President. Jane brought a great deal of experience to the ICF Australasia with serving on other boards and was a source of huge knowledge and a safe pair of hands as we navigated our way through understanding more about our governance responsibilities and the revision of the constitution. So to sum up, my Presidency was very much about rules, plans and structure. Hopefully I left things in a good place for Belinda and Patti to move on from.
Representing 2008 and under the leadership of self confessed 'benevolent dictator' Belinda Merry, joining Doug Lang, Martin Wilson, Jane Evans, Patti Gwynne and Toni Snelgrove, there were new members to the team – Kath McKenzie, Arlene Quinn, Jane Thomas and Corene Walker.
We welcome Belinda Merry and Arlene Quinn. Belinda, we honour you as a very special and unique woman in 'pink' whose vision, strong parameters, leadership influence, dedication and commitment over many years has been enormous. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Belinda Merry shares...
What she has gained from doing service on the ICF Australasia Leadership Team...
Talking of being 'a benevolent dictator' I hope I was able to do this with humour and fun along the way. Coaches are my tribe and being a part of the ICF Australasia Leadership Team gives me the opportunity to spend quality time with tribe while at the same time growing myself.
Working alone from home as many coaches do can be lonely and isolating. Being a part of the ICF and ICF Australasia has given me a connection with my tribe, and an added benefit is that along the way I have made some wonderful friends. As I have been attending these Conference sessions and plan for tomorrow, I notice the alignment between the Conference themes and the benefits of doing service for the ICF.
Personal responsibility is one of the ICF Australasia's values and as a leader it is paramount that I am not only responsible for myself but model this to the team. Of course the theme of professional viability is crucial as if the ICF is not viable, who will advance the art and science of professional coaching? As for global sustainability, with each of us touching our clients individually or in groups/teams, we are creating ripples that, if we do our job well, will grow and sustain our world.
Another benefit of being the President of the ICF Australasia has been my experience at running a Virtual Team which I believe is a growing area in these tough economic times. It has been a real pleasure being of service to the ICF Australasia and I thank you for allowing this."
This brings us to our current 2009 Regional Leadership Team – Patti Gwynne, Belinda Merry, Jane Evans, Toni Snelgrove, Corene Walker, Kath McKenzie were joined by new members: Wendy Somers, Heather-Jane Sears, Belinda-Jane Baillie, Kevin Rowe and John Raymond. Patti Gwynne has inspirationally led our team this year on yet another incredible journey. It is a pleasure to welcome Patti, Toni, Heather-Jane and our President Elect, John Raymond.
Patti, you have been the perfect visionary this year for ICF Australasia, leading the leaders in the organisation through a momentous transition particularly with bringing about a timely and yet unavoidable ICF Australasia restructure. This has required the brainstorm and organisation of mechanisms required be in place for the start of the next leadership year. The ICF Australasia is no longer an emerging organisation and is now on the move from adolescence to maturity as an established, credible professional association in the Australasian Region.
Patti you have bought together the perfect teams and steered, motivated, cajoled and inspired the natural evolution of this era in a true collaborative leadership style. We thank you so much for being who you are.
It has been a privilege to lead the ICF Australasia over 2009 as President. I have been involved with ICF Australasia in some leadership role since I began coaching nearly ten years ago and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to take a regional focus with the 2009 Board in Australia and New Zealand. I have met so many wonderful individuals inside and outside of ICF and am in awe at how much time and energy coaches give to the organisation voluntarily. We are in change mode again in ICF Australasia after ten years and a new organisational structure is emerging to take us through the next few years. There are challenging and exciting opportunities ahead and I am pleased to be handing over the reins to John Raymond, an extremely capable and experienced coach and leader who will take ICF Australasia to the next level.
Acknowledgement goes to all the Leadership Teams at the SubChapter level and to all the many, many people who have and still do volunteer enormous hours to support the SubChapters with professionalism, strong intent, purpose and vision. You are our shining lights that make it happen and we thank you for your tireless contribution with strategies to attract new members alongside retention of existing members to ensure the success of the ICF Australasia.
We also acknowledge those people who have worked behind the scenes contributing enormously to and serving on the ICF Global Committees, Board and Regional Teams over these years. We thank you for all your volunteer hours at this contextual level and for your massive contributions that ripple far and wide toward a highly successful Global ICF organisation today.