Scholarship Success Story

Our recent Scholarship winner, Laura Cross from the Christchurch Branch, attended the Outboard Bound Leadership course. Read the story about her experience during the 5-day course on our scholarship page. Also, a reminder that NZWiR is offering this scholarship again this year, so keep an eye out for the announcement soon.

Charting New Heights Through an Outward Bound Scholarship

Few experiences are as transformational as embarking on a journey of self-discovery in the picturesque landscapes of the Outward Bound school in the Queen Charlotte Sound.

For Bremick Fasteners South Island Account Manager Laura Cross, a New Zealand Women in Roofing member, this experience became a reality last month. The 30-year-old received the 2023 New Zealand Women in Roofing (NZWiR) Outward Bound Scholarship. Supported by industry partners, the scholarship allows women in the New Zealand roofing industry to participate in an Outward Bound course, helping them develop their leadership and personal skills.

Laura’s voyage to the Outward Bound school in Anakiwa wasn’t without its twists and turns. Initially booked to head to Anakiwa in November 2023, fate intervened with a stress fracture to her ankle, postponing Laura’s five-day course. Undeterred by this setback, Laura eventually shed her moon boot and began training again, attending a five-day leadership course in March. Motivated by the prospect of unlocking her potential at Outward Bound, Laura immersed herself in activities designed to test her physical prowess and mental resilience. From navigating Marlborough’s waterways to scaling the school’s towering Kahikatea trees and rock walls, Laura embraced each obstacle with tenacity.

She admits the course was a journey of introspection and growth.

“The physical challenges and not knowing what would happen next didn’t worry me. However, the pace we were moving at and being in close proximity 24-7 with people I didn’t know was stressful, and I felt out of my comfort zone.

“Our watch was a diverse age mix of three people under 30, including myself, and ten women over 40. We had come from having full autonomy over our lives to not knowing when we’d eat, sleep, or have a cuppa on our own. We had to learn to let go of control and lean into it,” she said.

Surrounded by her twelve watchmates, Laura delved deep into the nuances of leadership and collaboration. Through shared experiences and camaraderie, the Bremick South Island Account Manager discovered the power of teamwork and the satisfaction of collective achievement. “I have made connections with 12 new friends. Who you are there with is as much part of the Outward Bound experience as what you get from it yourself. You can learn a lot about yourself through how you interact with others.

“I used to do rock climbing at a competitive level, so I was looking forward to this activity and the high ropes course. I was teamed with Michelle, a watchmate who was less confident about scaling heights. It was inspiring to watch her progress through her fear. She cried. I cried. I coached her through it, and I was so proud of her getting up there and achieving it. We communicated well, and working together and completing the obstacles was a good feeling.”

Laura said sailing a cutter was another opportunity to lead her watchmates.
“Achieving ten people to row in synch was quite the task. I took the lead as I enjoy rowing, and I’m not a natural navigator! There was no wind; it was the stillest, most beautiful morning ever. The sun was beating down.

“I stepped up and liked having the extra responsibility. I encouraged and kept people on time. Everyone was busting their boiler to get the job done, but without wind, pushing us forward with our blistered hands was mentally challenging. It felt great to lead and have a sense of achievement when we reached our destination.”

Laura says one month has passed since her return to work, and while she has more processing to do, she is enjoying putting her learnings into action at work.

“I have gained more confidence and belief that I can do what I set out to do. I feel more empowered to go after things I want. I don’t question myself as much or ruminate on things without asking others first. I speak up more. While I enjoy talking to people one-on-one, I used to be more of a wallflower in group settings, which was challenging.”

NZWiR Founding Chair Jenny Maxwell said the committee received many quality scholarship applications, but during her interview, Laura’s self-awareness stood out.
“When we met Laura, she knew that to pursue herself and her career to do better, she needed to be more extroverted in her role. She said she could talk to clients from a knowledge point of view but didn’t feel confident in herself. We knew at Outward Bound she could gain this confidence and run with it – to get out there and do well.
“I spoke to Laura’s boss last week, and he said there is already a difference in her self-confidence, and he can see a change in her assertiveness at work, which is exactly what we had hoped for Laura,” said Jenny.

During the five-day course, Laura said a leadership workshop cemented her newfound confidence. “We learned about our leadership styles and how to work with colleagues who aren’t the same as us. We learnt how to tap into other people’s styles to make the workplace better for us and them. “The workshop empowered me as an individual, and I gained personal insight into my own style. I struggle with Imposter Syndrome. I’m one of the very few female reps in the industry, and despite being in it for nine years and repping for six, I sometimes find it a slog. Sometimes, I have felt I have to work twice as hard as a male, and I have asked myself, ‘Am I good enough?’ I have learnt to accept the success I have is deserved.”

Despite the deep reflection and personal challenge, there were many moments of levity and laughter.

“We were leaving Mistletoe Bay on the cutter – we were all prepared and ready to go. Leaving the dock, everyone was rowing and doing what they were supposed to be doing. It felt like a hard slog, but we weren’t moving. We asked ourselves what was happening and why we weren’t moving – before someone realised we hadn’t taken the anchor out!”

Laura says one of the good habits she gained in Anakiwa has followed her home.
“I felt very good afterward with what I had achieved physically as I never enjoyed running before the course – yet I’m home now and still running. From a mental clarity point of view, it helps me.”

The Bremick employee says she is grateful to NZWiR for the opportunity.
“Outward Bound is not something I thought I’d do in my lifetime. I wasn’t even sure I would apply for the scholarship and I definitely wasn’t sure I’d get the scholarship. Being at OB has helped with my confidence a lot.
“I feel stronger mentally and physically after having done OB.”

The Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand offers life-changing journeys of self-discovery. Visit to learn more about their courses.