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#26 Be. Leadership June 2015 - Global Citizenship

by Simon Noonan

The June session of Be. Leadership saw us all back at Sudima Hotel in Auckland. I really enjoy the atmosphere of Sudima – it felt good coming back to somewhere familiar and welcoming. Knowing we had a full on first day with three speakers was softened by knowing we had an accessible and understanding environment to work in.

It was our first full session with the new syndicate mixes. Knowing what was expected of us as a group made the transition smooth and I soon found myself settling in with the new dynamics.

The theme for this session was 'Global Citizenship’ and we had a great group of speakers, who each took a different approach to the topic.

Major Campbell Roberts of the Salvation Army lead us through the history of social housing in New Zealand and let us know about how these issues were being handled in other countries. His depth of knowledge had me wishing we could have kept him longer. I found his deep commitment to issues he found vital to our society was an inspiring model of active leadership, as befitted his rank.

Next Paula Rebstock spoke to us. Her extensive list of chair positions had me fascinated and hesitant at the same time – I'm a great fan of ACC as a concept (as otherwise it is sue and be damned), as well as a New Zealand rail system, but my feelings about WINZ are somewhat more neutral! There were some quite practical questions and answers directly relating to increasing employment of those with disabilities. Her experiences as a woman in the male dominated business world were revealing insight into impediments to diversity.

To finish the day Tim Miles, CEO of Spark, brought his personal insights into business leadership from his extensive international experience. If I had to describe this glimpse of him in a nutshell, I would have to say 'high powered and down to earth'. What I took from his discussion of international leadership styles was that, while there are differences in cultures, as long as you take them into account they are outweighed by the similarities, even when running a huge business.

We wrapped up and those of us not staying for dinner or the night headed home.

Day two had us meeting the Chair of Be Accessible, John Allen. I sat back with growing admiration for his incredible presentation style. It wasn't just that he was entirely on point for the whole of our programme – more than any other speaker he'd be aware of our programme topics – but he built each theme logically and flowed seamlessly into the next.

Our first reflection began with solo contemplation of where we were in terms of leadership and our place in the world. We gathered into syndicates to continue the discussion and then finally brought these discussions to the whole group.

We concluded the afternoon with another round of story telling, as five more of us shared our journeys.

Our third and final day was spent again in reflection. As an experiment, my syndicate was chosen to facilitate the reflection on the duty groups. While I was initially hesitant as to how this would work, we discussed how we would approach the task and I feel we managed to pull off a useful reflection.