Australian leadership expert Cherry Ward launches Thriving Women Adventure Programs in Myoko Kogen and Madarao

Cherry Ward’s skiing journey started with a fractured femur, a torn MCL and a separated meniscus. It was an accident that would scare many off the sport for life, but after a lengthy period of rehab and a career move to Canada, she decided the time was right to give it another crack.

Cherry Ward

Cherry Ward

“I remember clicking into skis and I thought I was going to throw up. Everything came flooding back!”, reveals Cherry.

“And fortunately I’d booked a lesson with a ski instructor and we just really hit it off.”

Within a couple of months, she was comfortably navigating the blue and black runs at her local resort and, more than that, revelling in a new-found sense of confidence and clarity.

“I was going through some challenges at work and had started practicing mindfulness. I stumbled onto the combination of skiing and mindfulness and thought: ‘I need to do something with this’.”

It was the lightbulb moment for Cherry, and an opportunity to combine her 20-year corporate career in leadership into a business that she now describes as a “passion project”. Over the next few months Bluebird Leadership and its sister brand, Thriving Women, were born.

“There’s an opportunity for women to come together in a safe environment where they can challenge themselves, create space for self-care, renewal and envision a more fulfilling and thriving future”, explains Cherry.

“And I see the potential to bring leaders out into nature – whether it’s hiking, skiing or whatever we’re doing, and getting them to reconnect with themselves, reconnect with nature.”

Thriving Women on the ski slopes of Japan

In 2024, Cherry will run two snow programs in Japan under the Thriving Women banner, a community that helps female leaders design and cultivate a thriving life by stepping away from the daily routine and discovering “what truly matters to them”.

The program will run in two of Japan’s top ski destinations, with a 3-day program in Myoko Kogen in January and a 5-day accommodation-included program in Madarao in February.

New Madarao powder run - Sawa II

Image: Madarao Mountain Resort

For Cherry, who has skied across North America and Australia, the choice to base her adventure programs in Japan was a natural one.

“There’s something very spiritual about Japan”, she says. “The ski fields around Myoko, Madarao and Nozawa are some of the oldest in Japan, and there’s a different sense of calmness and connection with the world and nature.”

In a recent blog post she elaborates further, describing a month-long skiing vacation in Japan and the discovery of an experience “even more alluring than the powder”.

“As an avid traveller, every place I have visited has left an imprint on my soul along with important reflections and lessons, both personally and professionally. This adventure taught me new leadership lessons and reinforced existing concepts.”

Participants of the new program will undoubtedly learn from these lessons, and can expect a mix of time on snow, workshops, meditation and free time.

“I really want participants to feel like they can pause and take a breath”, says Cherry.

“[In the Madarao program] there are two free afternoons for activities like soba making or a snow monkey tour, or you can take a break, reflect, journal, go for a walk, or whatever it is that you want to do.”

Interested in Thriving Women’s new Adventure Programs in Japan. Visit to RSVP or learn more.