Irene van Woerden
I attended the Aspiring Leaders Forum at the end of July with the funding that UCSA kindly provided to the PGSA. It was an intense four day forum focused on servant leadership as well as faith and values.
During the forum we went to parliament and were able to speak and listen to our politicians. Hearing about why they were in parliament, their life choices and what they hope to achieve was an amazing privilege.
We had several notable leaders speaking to us each day as well as small group discussions. In my group these discussions tended to get straight to the point with questions such as ‘who are you’, ‘where are you going’, ‘what is your history’, ‘what are you doing to make your goals a reality’ frequent. We also looked at what success was, debated if everything boiled down to love and how the past doesn’t have to determine your future.
A large part of the forum was based on ‘servant leadership’ and as part of this we spent one afternoon volunteering in Stokes Valley, an area between Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt. Using the local communities’ resources we did basic things such as splitting and stacking firewood, gardening and washing windows.
Overall the Aspiring Leaders Forum was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend it.
Irene van Woerden, Masters Student in Statistics, PGSA Treasurer and Sports Officer 2011-2012
Leadership starts with the passion and the commitment towards excelling in something that you believe in right from the bottom of your heart. If the zeal is in you, you think you could face the challenges ahead, are ready to take the risks and have the positive vibe to spread - it's for you! But definitely, to be a leader - you have to live it on the faith you have in your dreams, in what you think is right and you are ready to stick to the values that could nurture you to be what you want to be! Aspiring Leaders' Forum is the right place for a true leader - one who has faith in your doing and the one who is prepared to value - value other's passions, dreams, belief, where you are prepared to forget yourself and place the other person ahead of you. Value people who have experience, take time off to respect the elderly - how often could we negotiate on that? The Forum teaches you that a leader is not one who is to be proud of what he/she does for the society or community but on the other hand - learn to respect the others in the team, be humble, polite, flexible and keep stirring the team on the faith that they would attain their goal someday - even if it is late, it's for the good - believe it.
Today’s generation are the Leaders of tomorrow - for the nation, for a company, for your tribe, for your society, for a students organization, or for YOURSELF! We need to wake up today and start framing a world that is better - for the people who are looking up to you because somewhere out there, someone believes that you have it in you! I personally learnt to trust a team on decisions, be more compassionate to others and the intimate feeling that I have always had for my dream company is set up just after my workshop at the Forum - and the credit goes to the Forum - completely! Looking forward for more participation next year - I'll see you there!
Neha Chandrasekaran, PhD Student in Chemical and Process Engineering, PGSA Treasurer and Vice-President 2011-2012
Some are born leaders, and some become one!!! To become one, one has to aspire. To aspire, one has to be inspired. That is what The Aspiring Leaders’ Forum 2012 did to me.
I attended the forum representing the University of Canterbury but not knowing what to expect out of it. I went there with an open mind, ready to devour everything that was offered. I wanted to realize and explore myself. The Forum invites delegates and aspiring leaders from all around New Zealand to give them a first hand experience of what leaders are like. What makes them successful leaders? What is it that they do different or is it the way they do it?
We got to interact with 100 odd leaders all around NZ, from various fields, from Law to Science to Arts to Politics. We all had an opportunity to listen to the Members of Parliament about how did they become leaders. We got to hear about the obstacles they came across and their inspiration in becoming a leader. To my surprise, they were all common people like us but the difference was their attitude. They were grilled and tested by different obstacles to give up their dreams, but they never gave up. They all had a story, they all
fought hard. The road to leadership and success was and never will be an easy one!
We were lucky enough to listen to inspirational people, one of them being Rob Hamill, who put the human endurance to test by rowing across the Atlantic with his team mate. His story was stirringly inspiring to say the least.
We were put into groups of 8-10. The first thing we learnt is that there is no leader without a team, a group, that shares the passion and vision of its leader. We all shared our life experiences which made us what we are. It brought out the ‘TEAM’ out of strangers. It taught us to trust the team, respect each other's views and beliefs, and helped us work as a force to succeed. Our shared life stories really bonded the team close. The
sports afternoon brought us even closer and opened us up to put our best aspects together, infused enthusiasm, brought different skills and mindsets and pushed us to support each other to win. It was a wonderful exercise.
The Barn dancing on the last night was most amazing! Everybody shed their inhibitions and let go of their shyness to have unlimited fun. Though we had only very recently met each other we were close enough to make each other comfortable and 'shake those legs' and bring a smile on each others’ faces! An interesting mix of Bollywood and barn dance was one of the highlights for me and was cherished by everyone present.
Out of all the above experiences at The Aspiring Leaders' Forum 2012, I realised that leadership is getting likeminded people together to achieve a vision, a dream of success against the odds. It is about serving the society and people to bring about a positive change, a revolution of thoughts and deeds. It is to collate all the small dreams that one comes across into a beautiful future for everybody. It is about belief and faith in your values that are for the greater good. Leadership is to dream a dream, to persevere all odds, to transcend your limits, to realize one's potential, to nurture your passion! Leadership is to inspire one's self along with
serving others. If you thought that leadership was all about you...then think again..it about putting everything else before you!!!!!
To wind up, I will never forget what Rob Hamill said “If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk,
crawl towards your dream”.
Aspiring Leaders’ Forum 2012 was one of the most influential events of my life.
Tejraj Janmale, PGSA General Executive member 2012.