Stories

LeadershipConnect provides Apolosi knowledge to ‘become a better leader’

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Experienced Fijian pharmaceutical leader and Australia Awards scholar Apolosi Vosanibola says participating in LeadershipConnect gave him the confidence to become a better leader and provided “practical measures on how I can implement ideas” when home in Fiji.

The former Chief Pharmacist at Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services reflected on how the six-month program delivered by the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) opened his eyes to the experiences and contributions of women leaders in the Pacific, helped to “refresh” his leadership knowledge, and inspired a new-found appreciation for self-care.

[Image: Apolosi Vosanibola (left) and WLI alumna Jiupili Ralulu Simmons (right)] 

Refreshing leadership knowledge and learning from women leaders

While Apolosi is a well-established leader in his career and community, he saw the LeadershipConnect program as an opportunity to “refresh his knowledge on some aspects of leadership” and add to his Australia Awards experience.

Through the tailored virtual program of online leadership learning, networking, and support, Apolosi learned more about the important role women play in exercising leadership in the Pacific

While he was familiar with the Fijian Government’s policy directives in relation to gender and social inclusion, Apolosi reflected on the value of learning from and listening to women about their experiences in the Pacific context.

“I had some knowledge and understanding already, but when I joined the program and listened to the women, it increased my knowledge....” Apolosi added, “[Women] bring a different perspective to the discussions compared to that of men.”

He wants to continue to advocate for gender equality and its benefits to Fiji, in his workplace and community, and to lead by example, taking opportunities to support women into positions of leadership.

“It’s about opening people’s minds, seeing things from a woman’s perspective, and seeing how we can collaborate together,” Apolosi said.

Reflecting on change for leadership, self-care and leading by example

Apolosi has already begun sharing and applying the “empowering and refreshing” ontological leadership knowledge and lessons learned about self-care through the program in his spheres of leadership in Fiji.

“It has given me the confidence to consider some of the changes I need to make to become a good leader,” said Apolosi.

This includes introducing new ways of thinking into his church, in which he is an influential leader.

“The whole self-care concept is like an epiphany for them,” he added, “so introducing new concepts can take a while for people to accept, but I continue to advocate…”

“We need to look after ourselves in order to perform well in all parts of our lives,” Apolosi said, “Sometimes it’s hard to verbally convince people, so I have to lead by example and show them in the physical context what I am doing and how it is beneficial.”

Supporting women in leadership

Putting more lessons into practice, as the Chair of a recent local church leaders’ meeting, Apolosi encouraged a female colleague and supported her for the position of church steward, traditionally held by a man.

“Women can greatly contribute to society,” said Apolosi, “their contributions to the discussions are significant. They have many qualities that I as a man don’t have and bring a very different perspective…”

Apolosi believes that this appointment represented a significant and historical moment, with perhaps the first female steward appointed in the Methodist Church of Fiji.

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Apolosi is an alumnus of the WLI LeadershipConnect program – a six-month online leadership, networking and support program for men and women Pacific Islands Australia