Success stories inspire students during Leadership Week

Success stories inspire students during Leadership Week

Last Friday, in conjunction with AUT Business School and the Sir Peter Blake Trust, Fuji Xerox hosted their inaugural leadership event called Inspire 2013.

The event aims to bring students skills that will prepare them for life after school and this year featured a line-up of speakers that included Lady Pippa Blake, Hamish Carter and Sam Johnson.

Left to right: Roger Stokell, associate dean AUT University; Pippa Blake, founding trustee of The Sir Peter Blake Trust; Neil Whittaker, managing director, Fuji Xerox NZ. Photo by Geoff Osborne

Managing director of Fuji Xerox Neil Whittaker says that in December 2012, statistics from New Zealand Work Research Institute and AUT found the cost of poor transitions for students into the workplace could be valued at $2.6 billion in lost productivity and public finance.

Whittaker says: “I see developing New Zealand’s future leaders of industry as the responsibility of today’s business community.”

Inspire 2013 is just the latest in a group of offerings from Fuji Xerox designed to up skill New Zealand youth. The company also runs a Next Generation Leaders Programme, which is open to 30 students throughout the country. They attend a series of one-day events designed to inspire, motivate and educate them about the pathways open to them, explains Whittaker.

He says they are also collaborating with Careers New Zealand, Employers and Manufacturers Association Northern, and BusinessNZ to help students transition from study to work. Their pilot programme, 'My Career Portfolio' enables school leavers to interact directly with businesses.

As the name suggests last week's event was all about inspiring the next generation. “Students were prompted to think about how the amazing stories they hear relate to their lives and what they can do,” says Whittaker. “Whether it’s the former boxer, Bill Graham, talking about making the most of every opportunity or a PhD student, talking specifically about the transitioning from school to university, we want them to think about how this relates to them and how they can change their lives.”

Choosing speakers that can inspire students is not simply about picking leaders with the most impressive résumé. Whittaker says they look for speakers who can talk about their journey. “Hearing about all the set backs and how they overcame them is often what makes a leadership success story really sink in.”

And the speakers come from a variety of backgrounds; in addition to business owners, students heard from adventurers and university students as well.

Afra Abdeen – honours student at AUT. Photo by Geoff Osborne

“What we’re trying to teach these kids is mental resilience and to believe they are capable of achieving great things.

“Mike Allsop the New Zealand adventurer is a good example of this. Although most people won’t climb Mt Everest in their lifetime, at the core of what Mike talks about is that you need to break your goals down into steps and commit to a heavy dose of hard work in order to achieve your dreams.”

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