We've all changed this year

12 December 2013

The 2013 Williamson Community Leadership Program and Folio Community Leadership Program groups graduated at the end of last month. The event was held at the Sir Redmond Barry Room providing a more intimate opportunity for the graduates and their families to celebrate their achievements.

The guest speaker was Margaret Jackson, Chairman of FlexiGroup Ltd, Ansett Aviation Training Ltd and Australian Spirit Manufacturing Pty Limited.  She is also Director of the Prince’s Charities Australia and President of Australian Volunteers International. Margaret gave a personal insight into her leadership journey inspiring the audience.

Each of the groups chose a representative to speak on their behalf and for Williamson it was Sonja Hood. Sonja's speech included the following: 

"We've all changed this year. Some a little, some a lot, but we're all different. If I had to characterise this change in one word, I'd say we're all clearer. Clearer about what we believe, who we are, our leadership potential.  Clearer about wanting to make a difference - although possibly not yet clear what that difference is going to be.


"We’ve learned the importance of stories, and of authenticity. The telling of our own stories unearthed kernels of truth that in many cases were as revealing to the speaker as to the group. We learned as much in the telling as the listening, and we are all richer for it.

"We've been moved and shocked and propelled into action by stories told by others with dignity and truth. Corporate fraud, boat journeys, homelessness, domestic violence, racism, indigenous identity....  the list goes on. And we haven't just listened - we've been into environments that have irrevocably shaped us. From the custody centre to Cerberus, country Victoria to Canberra, and of course Noble Park, we've had some unforgettable experiences.

"We’ve learned that success just teaches you about success - that failure teaches you about yourself. Indeed, some of the greatest lessons come from things we work hard to avoid: failure, discomfort, uncertainty, fear, vulnerability. We've learnt to embrace questions without an answer.

"We've learned that leadership is demonstrated by activity, not by job title. That sometimes you just have to 'do something'. We’ve met some ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We’ve also met a bystander, and an accidental leader who didn’t act or ask the right questions, and we learnt that not ‘doing something’ can have devastating consequences. We learnt that sometimes small actions are the most important. Through our own CLAN projects, we delivered furniture to schools in Timor, breakfast to children in Rochester, a chance for refugees to express themselves through art, and more. We did something.

"Above all, perhaps, we learned the power of community. To our broader community- our families, our workplaces, our sponsors - many of whom are here tonight – and to Leadership Victoria, thank you for supporting us through this year. To my Williamson community - it's been a great year, and I’ve loved every minute of it. This is the end of the beginning of our journey, but we are not done yet, by a long shot.  By continuing to changing ourselves, we will change the world."