What makes a good leader?
It’s a question no one is more qualified to answer than the incredible Susan Alberti AC. The businesswoman, philanthropist and inaugural ambassador for the AFL Women’s League, is no stranger to all kinds of leadership roles.
In recent times, Alberti’s star has risen and shone even brighter as the pioneer of AFLW thanks to her love of football and determination to help pave the way for women seeking out a professional career in footy.
There is no doubt that Alberti is a self-made woman with her early years seeing her growing up in public housing.
“I was fortunate to grow up in a loving, but modest household, where we learnt the value of a dollar and appreciated everything we received.
“Of course, those modest beginnings have made me the person I am today. In particular, I always look to give community groups and others in need a ‘hand up, not a handout’ wherever I can. I love making a difference.”
There is no doubt football has played an integral role in Alberti’s life since dot.
“For my brother, Richard and I, football meant everything. My father was a policeman based in Footscray and every second Saturday, he would drop us at the Whitten Oval to watch the red, while and blue.
“We joined the cheer squad and really got involved in supporting the club. It was in those early days that I dreamt of running out myself on the big stage. At the time I knew that would be impossible – but now things have changed!”
Yes, thankfully, things have definitely changed.
In recent years, women’s football has been gaining momentum – so much so that in 2015, we saw a 96% increase in women playing football. The 2017 AFLW inaugural season debuted to bigger than expected crowds and impressive primetime TV ratings. The short season gave birth to a host of new female heroes such as Moana Hope, Daisy Pearce and Erin Phillips who was named the NAB AFL Women’s best and fairest player for the 2017 season.
“The sky is the limit,” says Albert in terms of where AFLW could be in another 5 years.
“We need to consolidate on the stunning inaugural season… I would like to see teams based in regional centres and even Tasmania, where there is a big push to establish the Tassie She-devils.”
While Alberti’s role in bringing AFLW to life has seen her name in the headlines more than ever before, there are many more layers to this remarkable woman, including her business life and role as chair of the Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation (SAMRF).
There’s no doubt Alberti has experienced her tougher times too, reflecting: “I have had my share of ups and downs. From losing a husband and my only child to some tremendous medical setbacks. I guess at the end of the day, what motivates me are the things associated with the loved ones I have lost.
“It’s why I have been so passionate about supporting the better treatment, prevention and possible cure for Type 1 diabetes, having lost my only child to the chronic disease 15 years ago.”
As for her career achievements, they speak for themselves. Alberti was among one of the first women to get a builder’s licence, a decision she says was made largely out of necessity as her husband and business partner became ill. It was a choice between selling the business or going to what Alberti calls ‘building school’.
“It certainly taught me resilience and never giving up. I am proud to be one of the first women to ever have been granted a builder’s licence in this state.”
What advice does this businesswoman have for others?
“I generally tell women to be themselves, be motivated, get up an hour earlier than your competitors or rivals and go to bed an hour later. Life is too short for regrets, make the most of every opportunity.”
So what is this remarkable woman’s answer to the question we opened this piece with: what makes a good leader?
“Someone who listens to all sides of a discussion and then acts decisively. Someone who is empathetic without being a soft touch. And someone who gives back to their community when they have the capacity to do so.”
We’ll leave you with Alberti’s favourite motto: “Never, never, never give up!”