Photos by Designed Photography — photographer Nadia D’Elia
Today’s leaders are advocating for change by aspiring to be the difference they want to see in the world. By sharing voices of conviction, it is possible for all of us to make an impact on greater society. We own that title as “the future”.
A total number of 185 Students and 18 student volunteers, alumni and facilitators participated in the LEAD 2019 conference. The event focused on the ability of individuals to creatively shift the way we think and see the world, the workplace and the broader community. To pave the way for change by fostering specific traits such as collaboration, open communication and power-sharing. Seven delegates represented QUT and UNSW with three students attending from QUT, and two students and two staff members attending from UNSW.
LEAD itself has 303 students and 24 LEAD beyond students in the 2019 program. The program represents the following campuses and schools.
The LEAD conference focused on preparing leaders in today’s volatile world to advocate change within university, communities and beyond. ‘Leading without a title’ demonstrated how authentic, resilient, confident leaders exert influence without authority to create a valuable, positive difference in the way we approach problems and innovate.
“Leading without a Title saw approximately 200 emerging and aspiring leaders from Western come together to be challenged, empowered and supported through their leadership journey. We discussed the themes of trust, courage, resilience, authenticity, inclusion and influence with exceptional speakers such as Sam Turner, and Dr. Jess Gallagher,” said Nicole Brackenreg, LEAD Program Coordinator.
Alongside the inspirational keynote speeches, the event featured an alumni panel consisting of Ammar Khan, Professor Iona Novak, John Refalo and Emily Mccammon. Delegates also engaged in multiple networking opportunities and two breakout sessions during the event. The workshops provided included “I am Authentic” presented by Danielle Redford Smith, “I am Resilient” presented by Kylie Warry, “I am an Influencer” presented by Veronica De Paoli, “I am Confident” presented by Chris Hall, “I am a Networker” presented by Kelly-Anne Cummings and “I am Creative” presented by Dean Worland.
Zoe Matthews is a 4th-year student at Western Sydney currently studying a Master of Teaching (Secondary). During the “I am Confident” breakout session, she discovered that “knowing your values and knowing how to work towards them will assist in the confidence you have, and having completed the workshop, I could make the connections between my values and the choices I have made so far”.
Throughout the day, delegates picked up amazing ideas and insights on the concept of creative problem solving, finding their authentic voice, leading through change, confidently navigating networking, influencing others and having an open mindset.
“I loved seeing the potential in the room, everyone studying something different, everyone with a dream in their hearts to pursue, making a difference in the world they see, I saw the next generation, and it warmed my heart,” said Kylie Warry.
Sam Turner’s keynote “I am a Leader” discussed what authentic leadership looks and feels like, by illustrating the impact of inclusivity, collaboration and self-accountability. Leaders pull — they don’t push. They influence others by giving them a voice.
“Leadership is about supporting and empowering others so that they can build their strengths and their passions. As a leader, I believe one of your main roles is to lead inclusively — be curious about others, to be empathetic and seek to understand. Along with motivating and inspiring — setting a goal and a vision and helping everyone get there together,” said Sam Turner.
Sam is the Managing Director for Sam Turner Inclusion and is the epitome of authentic leadership. She’s an energetic and engaging leader passionate about people, and equality. Sam was the overall winner of the 2016 Women of Influence Awards and was named one of Australia’s Outstanding 50 LGBTIQ leaders in the Deloitte/Google 2018 list. She points out that a person does not need to overcome serious setbacks or challenges to be a genuine leader.
Sam says, “Life is often challenging, and how you deal with those challenges often makes you a stronger leader. If you have experienced exclusion or being “other”, you hopefully have a greater understanding of what is needed to create inclusion as a leader.”
Dr. Jessica Gallagher’s success as a vision impaired athlete relied on exceptional teamwork skills critical to her success as a summer and winter Paralympic medallist. As an Osteopath in private practice and Board Director for Vision 2020, Jessica shares how she developed, built and sustained trust, teamwork and leadership while adapting to the ever-changing dynamics around her — she even brought in one of her medals! Aspiring leaders lead in any capacity — Jessica’s experiences challenged delegates to think differently and to see the world from a new whole perspective.
“The LEAD conference is an inauguration for students in the program, designing it to stir and champion individual opinions and ideas. Every individual has the potential to be a leader, and today we saw our future of leadership in Western Sydney and Australia stand up and say “I am a leader. I can make a change. I am ready,” Said Nicole Brackenreg.
For Zoe Matthews, leadership at its core “is the ability to work with or for others to benefit everyone and not just yourself. Whether that’s directly in a leadership role or without an official title, we all lead in our own ways, and when combined, it can make the present and the future better.”
Change permeates today’s business environment and society. We see emerging and aspiring leaders who want to transform the lives of others, and to lead with confidence in an increasingly complex world.
Veronica De Paoli is the Manager for Major Projects (HR) at Western Sydney University and presented the workshop “I am an Influencer”. She believes that “given the complex challenges the planet and humanity faces, we all have a responsibility to be an advocate for social change.”
Following Kelly-Anne Cumming’s saying “Changing the world one person at a time,” delegates are still experiencing the post-conference glow as they become ready to lead, to inspire and to grow. But the question remains. Are. You. Ready?