A personal leadership journey: Folio graduation speech

3 December 2014 By Gavin Heathcote

Gavin Heathcote's speech on behalf of the Folio group delivered at the 2014 presentation dinner.

We came together as a group of 20 people, all with different backgrounds, life experiences, skills and perspectives.  We were drawn together through a common ideal, the desire to explore our own thinking, and capability, in the context of community leadership.

In just seven months we have developed a far greater awareness regarding many social issues; built strong relationships, networks and developed a mindfulness of perspectives beyond that of our own.

We have learnt that you can change the world without formal authority and that part of our role as leaders is to facilitate connections, bringing people together in an authentic way while having the awareness to stop and to ask yourself (as Chris Kotur says) “What’s really going on here ?”.

The program had a combination of field visits, group projects that partnered with community organisations and facilitated learning.

We were fortunate to be invited into many organisations where we gained a greater appreciation of a wide range of social issues including youth, mental health, housing, refugees, climate change, cultural identity, sport and the arts.

These experiences engaged, challenged and humbled us. 

The most powerful aspect was in the stories of the people we met where we saw first hand how community organisations are making a difference to people’s lives.

Like Fablice, a refugee from Barundi, orphaned at age eight, a child soldier at 11, living in a refugee camp in Tanzania until he came to Australia seven years ago. With the support of Multicultural Arts Victoria, he is now telling his story through music and emerging as an inspiring leader within his community.

We also met support workers at the Visy Cares Hub in Sunshine who every day were giving young people an opportunity to break away from the cycle of drugs, crime and social disadvantage to create new lives for themselves.

These human connections provided great awareness, insight and empathy to us all.

Folio is also very much a personal leadership journey.

We have shared our own stories; our “true north” and have supported each other professionally and personally, learning new skills and appreciating the world through a wider lens.

Many thanked with great pride their partners, parents, children, friends and colleagues for helping to shape who they are, and thank you again to many of you who are here tonight.

We would also like to thank the Leadership Victoria team, especially to Richard, Kat and Tony (who mostly remembered to bring the thank-you socks) for their facilitation, support and “sheep dogging”, without which we would still be stuck at week one.

Reflecting over the past seven months, we feel privileged to be on this journey; the dominant emotion from us all is that we are inspired by our experiences and the people we have met. 

We look forward to the future, knowing we are all connected in our desire to make a difference.