Special Guests Galore at Emerging Leaders Conference

August 05, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Following on from the tremendous success of last year’s inaugural event, the second annual Emerging Leaders Conference was held at the Boys’ School yesterday. Leadership is ingrained in the Saint Kentigern vision, which states that our graduates ‘will serve and lead with distinction.’ The conference provided a rare and valuable opportunity for Year 8 students from the Boys’ School, Girls’ School, College and invited student leaders from local schools, to develop their leadership skills from inspirational speakers and purposely-designed activities.

World Vision played a huge part in the organisation and direction of the day’s itinerary, which started with an address from their CEO, Chris Clarke. He emphasised the point that leaders are not born, they are made. ‘The best leaders are those that can lead when times are tough, through the storms that life throws at you,’ he said. An analogy was used of the boat Australia entered in the 1995 Louis Vuitton Cup, which performed well in calm seas and favourable breezes, but when faced with inclement conditions it sank. Mr Clarke concluded by challenging the students to decide during the conference what they want to be known for at their school.

DSC_0198.JPGWith those wise words fresh in their minds, the students then immersed themselves in a ‘mass simulation’ game in the Sports Centre. The students were divided into four villages and the game involved opportunities to trade for employment, education, food and medicine for their village. The object was for the students to display honest behaviour and good character – necessary leadership traits – in these dealings, and promote the well-being of the whole village ahead of themselves. The rules meant that the players had to prioritise the opportunities within the game and have a vision of which order to acquire them.

Next up on the bill of guest speakers were leaders who had been in the students’ shoes not so long ago. Two Year 13 students, Head Boy of the College, Oliver Hadfield and Auckland Grammar School's Head Boy James Sandelin, both of whom attended the Boys' School, gave the boys and girls an insight into what is required to be a leader as they progress through their education. Oliver highlighted the importance of leaders being empathetic, while not letting emotion dictate decision making.

The students then divided into small groups for in-depth sessions with special guest speakers who are experts in their chosen fields.  

Dr Jackie Mills is a specialist in nutritional medicine, an obstetrician and general medical practitioner. She is tertiary qualified in Physical Education and a former national gymnast and aerobics champion. As Chief Creative Officer of Les Mills International, Dr Mills is responsible for the development of all Les Mills workouts.

Tim Alpe is co-founder and CEO of tourism company JUCY. In 2010, he was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and was a recipient of a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2014.

DSC_0372.jpgRachel Smalley is a highly-regarded print, television and radio journalist who is currently host of ‘Early Edition’ on Newstalk ZB. Earlier this year, she travelled to the Middle East to report on World Vision’s Forgotten Millions campaign. She led a fundraising drive which brought in $440,000 for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Dean Buchanan is managing director of media company NZME’s radio division. He has a worldwide reputation for revolutionary business ideas, and has launched a number of companies in the media consultancy and talent management industries.

All four of the speakers spoke about the traits which make a great leader, using their personal experiences as well as drawing from the qualities of prominent national and world leaders. The students reported back to their peers about what they had taken on board, with common themes being learn from your mistakes, surround yourself with good people, don’t be afraid to take risks and be committed to the decisions you make.

After a break for lunch, Year 11 College student and World Vision ambassador, Isabella Denholm made an impassioned plea for the boys and girls to be mindful in their leadership roles of those less fortunate. Isabella could speak from experience, having travelled to Tanzania, Cambodia and Malawi and seen first-hand the help World Vision is offering the local people.

The significant messages that had been delivered by the various guests were encapsulated in the heroic tale of key note speaker William Pike. Mr Pike is a living example to people of all ages that overcoming adversity is all about having a positive attitude. In 2007, he was climbing Mt Ruapehu when it erupted, causing life-threatening injuries and his lower right leg to be amputated. Rather than letting the harrowing ordeal debilitate him, Mr Pike has embraced his challenges and become a popular inspirational speaker and role model for Kiwi youth. He shared the values he admires in leadership, which are courage, teamwork, resilience and compassion. Standing on stage with his prosthetic leg, he was a vivid embodiment of his message to not let fear and doubt get in the way of your goals and dreams.

The Conference was a motivating and constructive experience for all of the students involved, with the day-long format providing a chance for the boys and girls to thoroughly examine their leadership behaviours and learn new ones from the guest speakers. The day was concluded with Mr Cassie thanking World Vision and special guests, Chris Clarke, William Pike, Jackie Mills, Tim Alpe, Dean Buchanan and Rachel Smalley for imparting their wisdom to the students.

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