NSW-based rail infrastructure maintenance provider Swietelsky Rail Australia (SRA) is increasing female participation in the Australian rail industry by sponsoring the Suzy Miller Women’s Leadership Development (WLD) Program.
The program supports emerging regional female leaders across all industries and sectors, and mentors who will grow them in their journey into leadership roles. Not only does the program nurture and support the growth of our future leaders, but it’s also designed to maximise the outcomes for senior leaders who also work on professional development with executive coaching sessions.
SRA Managing Director Anne Modderno said the sponsorship was close to her heart, as she had been involved with the program herself for more than four years.
“I’m delighted our company has signed on as an official partner of the program until 2026,” she said.
“I have experienced first-hand the positive difference this program makes for the lives and professional careers of both participants and mentors and believe this is yet another way our business contributes to increasing female participation in our industry across all levels.”
The sponsorship aligns closely with SRA’s Sustainability Strategy 2023-2025, which specifically targets increasing female participation within their business and rail industry, as well as other STEM-related industries.
The company hopes that its sponsorship of the program will be a small contribution to increasing female participation in leadership roles across the country.
While the program participants are female emerging leaders, the mentors are made up of both male and female leaders looking to hone their mentoring and coaching skills. The success of the program to date provides overwhelming evidence of the benefits on offer when working with both male and female mentors.
“The diversity of the mentors means that participants are able to learn different perspectives on what it means to be a leader, and how to tackle difficult conversations and scenarios,” Modderno said.
“It’s truly the best outcome-driven leadership development program I’ve been involved with.”
The program continues to demonstrate improved outcomes year on year. The 2023 participant cohort reported, leadership proficiency increased by 49 per cent, ability to communicate their value and worth increased 76 per cent, confidence to speak up in meetings increased by 66 per cent and ability to manage priorities increased by 73 per cent.
SRA was proud to sponsor two scholarships for Indigenous women or women from a disadvantaged background for the program’s 2023 cohort. It has now committed to a minimum of one participant scholarship every year, as part of their sponsorship.
There will be two programs run in 2024, one based in Newcastle and the other on the Central Coast.
Program founder Suzy Miller said she was excited about returning to offering two programs in 2024, particularly with the support of SRA.
“Following the effects of COVID, we’ve been forced to limit our programs to one cohort per year and haven’t been able to support the number of participants we would’ve liked,” she said.
“With the sponsorship and support of the team at Swietelsky Rail Australia, we will be able to expand our reach of the program to women in various industries and help to continue developing strong female leaders. The SRA scholarship positions provide access to our program for women, who otherwise may not be able to participate. Our program gets great outcomes for organisations and has a massive ripple effect and social return on investment for the families and communities surrounding them.”
Miller’s team is now seeking expression of interest from individuals from outside the Hunter Region to be involved in a purely online Women’s Leadership Development Program, which will further increase reach and provide access to quality professional development, right across Australia including remote areas.