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“The research is very clear: when we want retention of learning we need to create a memory for learning to attach itself to.”

Sally’s 30+ years’ experience spans a career in the New Zealand Defence Force, as the director of her own leadership training business, and as the owner of Makahika Outdoor Pursuit Centre. 

Along with an insatiable appetite for understanding the neuroscience of leadership and excellence, and armed with the knowledge of how our environments affect our ability to absorb information and effect change, Sally brings Experiential Architecture to the business and corporate worlds so that organisations can change the way in which they grow leaders.

Sally’s affinity for leadership development started during her time with the New Zealand Defence Force, where she led and contributed to the formation and development of high-performance teams. It became clear to her that lessons were best learned when team members could see and feel the effects of their behaviours on others. With those eyes, Sally looked at the corporate training world - of classrooms and whiteboards - and found a huge deficit in the delivery of meaningful and consequential training that genuinely changed people’s behaviours and mindsets.

This is in part what inspired Sally, with the support of her former RNZAF Pilot and Senior Military Officer husband John, to purchase Makahika Outdoor Pursuit Centre in the foothills of the Tararua Ranges and to make it their home and livelihood. Learn more about award-winning Makahika OPC. 

With wind whispering through tall trees, sun dappling the fronds of native ferns, and the ever-present sound of a chortling stream to fill her surroundings, experiential learning for executives and leadership teams became a focus for Sally. Offered through various immersive methods, Sally began to design several iterations of leadership programmes that would disrupt the status quo, which she now delivers on-site at Makahika, at purpose-built Arete, or on location with various clients - as long as there’s not an office block or training room in sight. 

“The privilege to do what you love, and gain financial independence through that passion, is an extraordinary gift. I am excited, inspired and deeply fascinated by the neuroscience and physiological response to stress and high performance. To be able to design and deliver bespoke leadership programmes, using the outdoors and Makahika as the conduit for the learning and experiences that affect participants’ personal and professional lives deeply, is a gift that I will never take for granted.”

How do you commute from the bedroom to work?

Curious question. 

Commuting is a ritual. 

A habit is formed; there is a rhythm; we buy our coffee at a certain place, we sit in a preferred part of the train, often park in a familiar space, in other words, we embed and repeat a process that gets us safely, both physically and mentally from home to our work space. This forms a separation from one environment to another.

  • 5 min read

Why are we so easily distracted?

The fascinating thing about the human brain is that it has a natural bias to be curious about seeking constant and new information. Why? The more information we have, the better we can assess and mitigate danger. But our primal brain is at the crossroads with technology availability as we’ve never experienced it before. And we are exposed to both external distraction (events) and internal distraction (worry or anxiety). We seek constant distraction, but it leads to cognitive overload (overwhelm). Go figure.

  • 7 min read
My Canada Musing - Blokes – Construction – Leadership. Recently I spoke at the NZ Certified Builders conference in Wellington. To be certified, or certifiable; is not generally an aspiration in other parts of our society, however, the folks I met at this conference seemed just fine.
  • 8 min read

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