Leader's vision inspires her to walk the talk

New Canterbury bulldogs chief looks to time when women in big sports roles is normal.

Raelene Castle left Netball NZ to run the Sydney NRL Bulldogs club. Photo / Dean Purcell
Raelene Castle left Netball NZ to run the Sydney NRL Bulldogs club. Photo / Dean Purcell

As a leader, what's the secret to getting people to support and share your vision?

Earning their respect is crucial. Giving your team an opportunity to contribute always helps with buy-in, then it becomes their vision. As a leader you must be true to your vision. You must walk the talk.

How is a typical 'day at the office'?

Usually the one I have planned never happens as people always take priority. I would much rather help the team find an answer to a problem than do paperwork.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Straight up, hardworking and always keen for a laugh.

Tell us about someone who has inspired or mentored you. My parents are my mentors and also inspired me. They both played sport for New Zealand and always taught us we could do anything we put our minds to.

What is your first memory of being a leader?

Being appointed as the class captain at Bucklands Beach Primary.

What was an important lesson you learned on your way up?

Good manners, strong general knowledge and common sense take you a long way!
What has been a highlight of your career so far?

The "yes" vote by the netball community to restructure the sport in New Zealand was an amazing highlight and a complete endorsement of 18 months of work to create change for a better future.

What was a low moment?

Losing the world final by one goal in overtime was heartbreaking. The players, management and staff of Netball New Zealand were invested 100 per cent in the outcome. I dealt with it by sharing the pain with the team. As a leader I believe it's okay to show how much you care, it makes you human and more credible.

What annoys you most?

That people are marginalised due to their sex, race or creed.

What do you think are three traits of an effective leader?

Integrity, capability and charisma.

And three traits of an ineffective leader?

Being controlling, divisive and weak.

What do you think will be a significant business or societal issue in the next decade?

Obesity. The effect that poor nutrition and lack of exercise have on health and personal development, as well as the financial implications on the health system, is alarming.

Who is a leader that you admire?

Oprah Winfrey, an African American female who's been successful in the challenging media world. She changed the face of broadcasting and enabled ordinary people to debate taboo issues in public.

Who would you love to invite to dinner, living or dead?

Oprah Winfrey, John McEnroe, Anna Wintour and Nelson Mandela.

What is a big dream that you have?For significant female appointments to be "normal" across the world.

And for New Zealand's future?

That every child has a safe, happy family, excellent health services and equal opportunity for education and career.

If you could give your 15-year-old self some advice, what would it be?

Be brave and always take the opportunities that are presented to you. You never know where they'll take you.

Raelene Castle

Raelene Castle is the new chief executive of Australian NRL club the Canterbury Bulldogs. During her time as the chief executive of Netball New Zealand, she transformed it into a focused business and helped netball grow its profile and commercial investment.

She was heavily involved in setting up the ANZ Championship transtasman netball competition. Castle has been described as one of NZ's top sports administrators and its most influential woman in sport. Before starting her Netball NZ stint in 2007, she was head of business marketing at Telecom, after holding senior posts at Fuji Xerox, Southern Cross Healthcare and BNZ.

Castle is a national lawn bowls champion and has played tennis and netball at representative level. She is a trustee for the Rising Trust, which seeks to unlock the potential of youth in South Auckland, and mentors young female executives. She was recognised at the 2011 Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards.

- NZ Herald

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