There are many factors that come into play in order to be called a leader, and even more to be a global leader. I would like to focus on just one of the core factors: initiative.
Just after graduating from my undergraduate degree in journalism back in Mexico I was contacted by a recruiter via LinkedIn and got offered an amazing job opportunity. It paid very well, had great benefits and a lot of responsibilities. A colleague and I were the sole editors for the whole Latin American region for one of the three biggest financial ratings companies in the world. I was getting so comfortable that I nearly forgot why I went into journalism – to make a positive impact on the world. I was volunteering with indigenous women on the weekends, but I probably was not going to change the world in the way I wanted to with my financial editor role. So I decided to quit. Letting go of a job like that was difficult but I knew if I didn’t leave then it would only get harder to leave later.
I started looking for international scholarships and universities and I ended up coming to Australia to study a Master of Development Studies and Culture Change. It was the right choice. As soon as I heard of the Global Leadership Program I knew I had to sign up. Who would ever let an opportunity like this go? It provided access to amazing learning opportunities; people who were leaders in their fields; and it was free! Joining the GLP was the best decision I made while studying at Macquarie.
“If you ever think you’re too small to be effective, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito!”
— Wendy Lesko, Youth Activism Project
Our individual decisions impact the health of our communities, our climate and our environment. The longevity of our planet will rely on leaders who not only understand the impact their individual choices have on those they lead, but the powerful role of collective choices in overcoming social, economic and environmental challenges.
If you don’t believe our day-to-day choices can make a difference, then here is the hard data.
- 1 million disposable cups end up in landfill every minute. Since 2009, switching to reusable cups has diverted 3.5 billion of disposable cups from landfill. (KeepCup)
- As a nation we waste 1 out of every 5 shopping bags of food (OzHarvest). If the food wasted around the world was reduced by just 25%, there would be enough food to feed all the malnourished people on this planet. (Think.Eat.Save)
- In one week we go through 10 million plastic bags worldwide. Many of these end up polluting our oceans. By 2050 it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans. (Plastic Free July)
- In order to give us the latest trends at the lowest cost, clothing production is outsourced overseas and often manufactured by children. More than 7 times the population of Australia are in child labour. (More in The high cost of cheap clothing TEDx talk)
- If every person in the world consumed like we do in Australia, we would need 4.8 Earths to sustain us. (BBC News)
Where we invest our time and money matters.
As a student in my final year I decided to do something different – travel to London for the Young Diplomats Forum! London was a city I’ve always wanted to visit and it was the first time I visited a country alone.
I stayed at a suburb called Canning Town and once I decided to look around I noticed how very multicultural it was. For the first three days I went sightseeing and visited the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London and Big Ben. Then it was time for the Young Diplomats Forum. I was not the only Australian at the Forum, there were seven of us with a few from Macquarie, who were undertaking the GLP like I was. I also met some delegates from Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan who also knew some Turkish like me. Most of them were aspiring young diplomats, already working at an embassy or other position unrelated to diplomatic service. On the first day of the Forum we went to Greenwich where most of the morning speeches were held. As the day went on I met so many socially aware and insightful people. Before we got too comfortable we were given a presentation task to do in groups. Our topic was on post-ISIS Middle-East so most of the week was spent working on that.
With the beginning of the new year, I was full of nervous-excitement as I knew I’d be spending the rest of the month in Seoul, South Korea. Before my trip, I didn’t know much about Korean culture beside its pop culture icons, such as PSY. I had been to a Big Bang concert a couple of months beforehand, so was keen to jump in and experience the country’s rich and vibrant history and culture.
Stephanie and the other international Sookmyung delegates trying on the traditional dress of South Korea, Hanbok.
I’ve always been a strong believer in never judging a book by its cover.
Growing up with anxiety has taught me one thing about both myself and others around me; you should never underestimate the power of support and friendship when it comes to challenging yourself.
My journey in the Global Leadership Program started in 2015, and oddly, I have had the eye-opening experience of experiencing both worlds, Macquarie life with the GLP and without the Program. My first two years at University, I treated it a lot like school – I basically didn’t participate in anything apart from my classes, turned up, then left. I often felt too shy to talk to people, and never dreamed that I would ever be considered by the University for any sort of exchange opportunity due to, well, not being the sort of person who easily adapts to social situations. At the end of my second year of University, I felt as though I needed to change, and to change now or nothing will become easier to overcome in the future.
Perri in South Korea for the Sookmyung Summer School, 2015