When the opportunity to take part in a Global Leadership forum presented itself to first year communications student Ben Woodgates, he leapt at the chance to get involved.
Fifteen students from Waikato joined more than 250 students from 22 nations for the Common Purpose Global Leadership Forum to hear from inspiring leaders on the biggest issues, challenges, and opportunities young leaders face today.
“The forum really leaned into a lot of the things I’m passionate about - the value of community, relationships and leadership. New Zealand’s time-zone wasn’t ideal, with the conference running through our late evening into the early hours of the morning - but it was definitely worth it!”
Global Experiences Manager Jaydene Meadows says opportunities like these forums enrich the student experience and students are encouraged to take up the chance if it presents itself.
“Forums like this give our students the opportunity to connect with their peers all over the world, see how other cultures and nationalities are navigating their area of interest, and learn from each other.
“To be able to see and experience the practical application of the knowledge they’re gaining through their studies is a wonderful way for students to extend their learning and make important connections.”
“This particular opportunity came via our strategic partner, Lancaster University, and we are grateful to them for extending the invitation to Waikato students”.
Ben is no stranger to getting involved and making a difference, having set up a local Covid Facebook group while still in high school, growing to over 14,000 members. His page and accompanying newsletter still get around 2000 views every week.
The forum included keynote addresses from Karen Loon, Author and Non-executive Director based in Singapore, who shared advice on authenticity in leadership and Dr Iain MacRitchie of MCR Pathways, who shared insights into the transferable leadership traits needed to make a difference, as well as masterclasses with Koshika Krishna of Peace First, and Rayan Kassem of Youth4Nature.
Ben says the keynote from Dr Iain MacRitchie was particularly inspirational.
“All those messages about leadership not being just about big transformational change - the small things are also important, and leading being about connecting were really useful. I really liked the MCR acronym - Motivation gets you started, Commitment gets you to the peak, and Resilience keeps you going.”
The next challenge, says Ben, is creating action from the talk. “What do we do with this knowledge now? The key is to take that knowledge and use it in your own way. Like the things we study, the more we use that knowledge, experiment with it and find new ways to use it, the more practical it becomes. And that’s what we have to do - create action.”
Ben says he’d encourage any students presented with the opportunity to get involved in external forums and seminars to jump in.
“The more you put yourself out there and get involved, the more opportunities present themselves, the more you grow personally and the more people you can help. It’s like at high school, the more clubs and activities you get involved with, the more likely you are to advance to university. It’s the same here, but it’s for life.”
To learn more about the global experiences on offer as part of your study at Waikato, please visit the Waikato OE website.