EDITOR'S NOTE: Miranda Robinson is superintendent at Summerlea Golf Club,Port Perry, Ont.; consulting superintendent at Western Trent Golf Club, Bolsover, Ont.; and a contributing editor for Golf Course Industry.
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The Bayer “Women In Golf” day -- #Growing for Success was an inspirational introspective journey for everyone involved. Dr. Jacqueline Applegate, head of environmental science of Bayer Crop Science, set the tone for the day with her captivating presence at the Weston Golf and Country Club and her enthusiastic "Go all in!" discussion, which sparked passion in our minds.
The event "was about empowering women to know and be self-aware of their own strength, and open and willing to apply their skills today," Jaqueline says. With the help of Susan Hite, president of Hite Resources, a teambuilding and leadership consulting firm, attendees were given the skills to feel confident to "go all in."
The skills development session started with Hite after a quick break, which for the first time there were actually washroom lines because at most turfgrass conferences there are usually only a handful of women in attendance.
Hite, focused on ''what wise women need to know for survival, success, and significance," and emphasized attendees ''unleash our power."
Self-awareness is a staple in living a life you love. With self-awareness, you can learn how to stand out while fitting in. The women in attendance were challenged to take an honest look into their world and discover where they lacked balance.
However, when we compared results with our table mates there was a glaring and surprising commonality -- we all lacked "me" time. It was a bit of an "Aha!" moment that we can take home with us. As turf managers, we tend to marry the job and forget the necessary “give and take.” We must learn to balance our lives more sustainably.
Hite then challenged attendees to identify their purpose and mission. It was during this session attendees begin to realize although we had lifestyle commonalities, our personalities were very unique. With the Psyco-Geometric personality assessment – mental characteristics based on basic biometrics -- attendees spent time in groups learning about each other and the ways to interact with different personality types. Using small group networking, we not only unveiled our strengths and weaknesses, but forged bonds with one another.
"It was awesome to be able to talk with women who all understand each other and are on the same level,” says Ashley Averitt, assistant superintendent at Peninsula Golf Club, Gulf Shores, Ala. “There was no intimidation factor."
The path to self-discovery continued during lunch as the room filled with laughter, conversation, and overall positive vibes. Some of us took a minute or two to hold six-week-old guest of honor Quinn, the daughter of Jasmine Halk, assistant superintendent at The Briars Golf Course, Jacksons Point, Ont. Quinn’s small coos at the back of the room were smiled back at by a room full of acceptance. This industry is overwhelming with support, and like all of us, Jasmine was feeling it at this empowering event.
The educational journey of self-discovery and personal and professional enlightenment next focused on becoming more proficient in establishing specific goals and deadlines, while maintaining a scoreboard to demonstrate productivity. A scoreboard keeps your team in the loop with projections and can easily turn a boring job into an inspiring journey. For example, I am rarely excited about something that does not inspire me, so why should I expect my staff to be? This topic’s take-home value is priceless because a motivated leader who regularly motivates their staff is sure to succeed. Motivation combined with specific prioritized goals makes execution achievable.
"Awareness is key,” Hite says. “Action is critical!"
In only her second year in the turf industry, Nichole Parker, Magna Golf Club, Aurora, Ont., says networking with established female turf managers provided her an unparalleled experience. In addition, she found great value in Hite’s lesson on interpersonal communications. “Susan gave me a better understanding of personality traits and how they are useful when relating and communicating with others,” she says. “This will be an asset to me in my profession."
The day concluded with some social time and attendees exploring a common question -- Where is this going?
The amount of passion in the room could move mountains and its depth of compassion is what made this event successful and sustainable. Bayer has provided a tastefully executed experience, and as a result it is creating a community of women who otherwise may have never met.
Some attendees would like to see the program grow and expand. "Ideally, I would love for Bayer Canada, and Bayer USA to team up and host events in both Canada and United States, giving all the North American women in the golf course industry the opportunity to attend," says Kate Lifke, assistant superintendent at Trapper's Turn GC in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.
Bayer’s commitment to the next steps is not going away. It cast the first stone with this past fall’s inaugural Women in Golf event at the Toronto Ladies Golf Course. Bayer created the first opportunity for women to network in the industry, but it assuredly won’t be the last. The company preaches innovation and value beyond their products, and as a result it has created for us a passionate atmosphere for us to grow both professionally and personally.
As Bayer’s Applegate memorably summed the day up: "It's all about a transformational journey."