ARA and CEW launch 2024 Women Leaders in Retail scholarship

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has partnered with Chief Executive Women (CEW) to offer a scholarship for an emerging woman leader in retail to study at the Harvard Business School in Boston, USA.

The ARA CEW Women Leaders in Retail Scholarship is in its third year and was officially announced today at the ARA’s International Women’s Day lunch in Melbourne.

Nominations are now open to ambitious female retail executives looking to accelerate their professional development.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the scholarship is an important part of addressing inequality in the sector.

“Around 75% of discretionary spending power sits with women. Despite this, women only occupy 29% of board positions with Australian retailers and just 14% of our sector is led by female CEOs,” Mr Zahra said.

“This is something the ARA is determined to help change.

“Solving gender inequality in leadership requires mentorship programs that empower women to ascend through the ranks and the ARA CEW Women Leaders in Retail aims to do that.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for a woman who is working in the mid to senior level of the retail industry to take their leadership to the next level and set themselves up for future success.

“We are delighted to continue partnering with CEW to provide this important scholarship.”

CEW chief executive Marie Festa said female leaders in the industry should seize this opportunity and apply for the scholarship.

“Though women are underrepresented in senior leadership across the Australian retail sector, this is an industry that is known for embracing change and rapidly responding to its challenges.”

“If you are a woman leader in the retail industry, I encourage you to apply for this scholarship today, use it to accelerate your own career and in turn, sponsor the next generation of emerging female talent.”

The scholarship complements the ARA’s position on gender equality. You can read our position statement here.

General Manager, Non-Food Business Unit at Coles Debra Galle was our 2023 Scholar and Virginia-Leaf, General Manager Finance, Wesfarmers was our inaugural winner of the ARA CEW Scholarship.

Selected from a competitive field of strong applicants, Ms Galle has held leadership positions at Coles for the past four years. With deep FMCG industry experience across both manufacturing and retail, Ms Galle has led highly impactful change for Coles.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Work in the retail sector and their organisation be an ARA member
  • Hold a mid to senior executive role (CEO, or no more than 3 levels down from CEO)
  • Have five or more years general management experience (i.e., business unit, line or functional management incorporating key responsibilities such as P&L management, strategic planning, and people leadership)
  • Receive endorsement from C-Suite, CEO Direct Report, CEO or Board

Applications can be made here, and close June 10.


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