Business & Careers Local People


Meet Nicki, a local leadership consultant and founder of the Illawarra chapter of Dress For Success

We recently caught up with the wonderful Nicki Bowman at Bubbles + Bargains, a fabulous fundraising event for the Illawarra chapter of Dress For Success – a not-for-profit organisation empowering women to achieve economic independence thanks to a network of support, professional attire and development tools.

She is also a leadership consultant, speaker AND author!

We loved her energy and drive when we met her, so wanted to share some of that with you guys by having a chat with Nicki and finding out a bit more about this amazing human of the Illawarra!

1 :: How did you start in the corporate world and why?

It was a lengthy path…..starting with a legal career, then executive roles and Board work [which I’m still doing]. I got to a stage where I thought “what’s next?” and went through a long process of figuring out not just what I wanted from a career but from a life.

That included making some big decisions like settling back in Wollongong after taking a ‘gap year’ with my family and travelling for all of 2014, setting up a branch of the charity Dress for Success in the Illawarra and then starting my own business for the first time.

I’d always been fascinated by the elements of great leadership and how to build amazing working cultures but constantly frustrated at how so few organisations invested in delivering practical skills to people who were stepping into leadership roles.

So I decided to take my passion for it and turn it into a business where I could provide the tools, insight and guidance that people need when taking their career to the next stage. That’s when the Four Legs Leadership Academy was born!

2 :: What’s the most interesting thing about your work?

Undoubtedly it’s the variety of organisations I work with and the people within them. I love getting to know what makes people tick and how to give them what they are really looking for. It’s fantastic watching them grow in both competence and especially confidence and take on the leadership mantle.

1 The Fold Illawarra Nicki Bowman

3 :: What’s the most challenging element of your work and business?

I find it frustrating when I connect with organisations and I can’t get them to see the value of investing in their people. They talk about wanting to reduce turnover, boost resilience and improve morale but they want a ‘silver bullet’ one hour workshop and won’t accept that ultimately it’s the quality of their leadership that determines all of those things.

4 :: What do you love about living and working in the Illawarra?

Apart from the obvious physical beauty of the coast and the bush, I would have to say the sense of community and the range of amazingly supportive people who live here. From the biggest businesses to the smallest I am constantly blown away by how many people are committed to lifting each other up – and especially to helping those who need it most.

I’ve seen it up close with Dress for Success. We’ve had support from far and wide which has enabled us to help hundreds of disadvantaged women into employment every year since we started out in 2017.

In a world where bad news often dominates, we should be shouting more about the great things people do here every day to make it a kinder, better place.

5 :: Tell us something about yourself that we would be surprised about!

I made my modelling debut at the age of 50!

It was a couple of years ago at a cocktail party and fashion parade event and Dress for Success was the charity partner. To raise extra dollars I walked in the fashion parade and sought sponsorship [like a fun run but with no running – but lots of fun!].

It was a blast, especially when I got to pose with the other [very much younger!] models against the BMW.

Another amazing example of the community spirit in the Illawarra!

Find out more about Dress For Success here and Nicki’s leadership consultancy work here.

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