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Cambridge woman wins place on Life Unlimited board

Published 23 August 2018 – Sarah Verran of Cambridge is the winner of the Institute of Directors’ (IOD) Waikato branch Emerging Director – Disability Sector Award.

Carla Muller of Hamilton has been announced as the winner of the Emerging Director Award.

The IoD awards, announced at lunchtime on 23 August 2018, recognise newly engaged directors who demonstrate strong commitment to developing governance capability, and to helping contribute to well-governed organisations in New Zealand.

Sarah’s drawn to governance after her daughter was disabled


When Sarah Verran’s 10-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumour, Sarah’s life, and that of her family, changed completely.

The slow-growing tumour had been developing since birth. It transformed the once happy, bright and healthy young girl into someone with a disability, who now needs 24-hour care and support in order to live.

After three years of caring for her daughter, and with a background in IT, tourism and media, Sarah’s new perspective on life has drawn her to focus her energies on the social and disability sectors, particularly governance.
“I have found strength in becoming the advocate for my daughter, to be able to speak about our experience to challenge thinking, offer some objectivity and add value to facilitate change,” Sarah says.

As a way of pursuing a governance career, Sarah joined a community of practice, Enabling Good Lives, and applied to be on a patient and whanau care board through Auckland District Health Board.

She says developing her governance career is a way of achieving her objective of advocacy and change within the disability sector.

For her prize, Sarah will sit on the board of Life Unlimited (now known as Your Way | Kia Roha) for a year. She will receive $4000 in professional development learning from the Institute of Directors, plus IoD complimentary membership and attendance at IoD events.

Sarah Verran with Life Unlimited board chair John Dobson

Carla looking to gain more experience in governance

Carla Muller started her governance career in 2012 with the Massey University College of Business Board. Last year, she was a finalist in the Westpac Women of Influence Awards for rural and young leader categories, and a winner in Hamilton’s “30 under 30’ awards. She has a Master’s degree in Environmental Management and a Bachelor of Applied Economics.

“When I started thinking about governance I thought that it was something that I wanted to do, but that it was out of reach until I had got to a senior management level,” Carla says. “I have always believed in giving back to my community and hadn’t worked out that the local trusts and committee roles I had held, were at their heart, governance.”

“Since I have been taking on governance roles, I have learned a lot, both technically and personally, and have taken all opportunities to increase my experience in a range of governance roles.”

She is looking forward to learning from the governance internship on the Wintec Board which comes as part of the award.

“Being able to observe the Wintec Board for a year would provide invaluable learnings from experienced directors.”

Carla’s prize includes the year’s internship on the board of the Waikato Institute of Technology, $4000 in professional development, plus complimentary membership of the IoD for a year, along with free entry to branch functions for a year.

“Carla and Sarah will no doubt add to the strong legacy the award has gained, with previous award winners establishing themselves in the governance community and contributing to boards of significance across the region and beyond. It is also great to see the continuation of the Disability Sector Award with the applicants being of a very high standard indeed,” said IoD Waikato chair Simon Lockwood.