‘Expansion’ has been my word for 2017 and there has been a magical quality to life this year since I chose that word, which has culminated in the past week – one of the most busy and challenging professional weeks I have ever had and likely to be the high point of the year for me.
I met ex-High Court judge Michael Kirby (or the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG as he is officially known) at last Thursday night’s Bold Thinking Series lecture on Health, Law & Sexuality held at the NGV Great Hall, which had fully sold out one week prior. It’s a beautiful space with stained glass ceilings by Leonard French, which seats 600 people and the lecture was a whole-of-University project, that included support from my colleagues in the Office of the Vice Chancellor, 50th Anniversary Office, Law School, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), Alumni and Events as well as my usual working party in Marketing and Recruitment. Justice Kirby was, and is, indeed a great man and it was an honour to have him speak at our event – he was flying out to Japan the following day to receive an Order of the Rising Sun honour from the Emperor of Japan no less and it was a learning experience for me to look at all the pomp and ceremony required for people of this stature – La Trobe University had organised an aide-de-camp to accompany Justice Kirby for his entire stay with us as well as his own green room at the NGV on the night. I was very relieved to get to the VIP event at the NGV Garden Restaurant after the lecture to enjoy its success.
I flew out on Sunday afternoon high above the clouds of Melbourne to attend the Leading Now 2017 leadership summit held at the Mantra on Salt in Kingscliff – about 15 minutes drive south from the Gold Coast Airport and the start of the stunning northern NSW beaches region which includes Cabarita Beach (where Halcyon House is located) and Byron Bay – another place I’d like to return to at some stage. The Mantra on Salt is located in the Salt Village area including Peppers Salt Resort and Spa where some of the other speakers and I all stayed.
While I’m used to attending networking events in the arts and culture space, as well as marketing, this was something entirely different for me to be surrounded by a group of high calibre leaders mainly from the corporate arena. It made me realise that my own journey has been a very different one since leaving corporate life behind and starting this blog – no less valuable but perhaps the road less travelled. In my heart of hearts, I will always be an inherently more creative, and persuasive, person with a different take on things to the mainstream – something I’ve started to see increasingly more as a strength than a weakness these past few years.
But back to the leadership summit, it was both daunting and inspiring to be in the presence of some truly great leaders and keynote speakers including Dr Louise Mahler whose magnificent presentation on body language was a real ice-breaker at the ‘fork and talk’ opening night dinner where we all met for the first time. Equally impressive was Dr Jason Fox – the swashbuckling international speaker and author on motivation strategy and design, who embodies inner-north Melbourne hipster, including bushranger beard and coffee addiction. I was lucky enough to have him sit in on my Think Out loud session on communications in the age of social media yesterday, and I hope I was able to teach such a clever person something new.
I also met some other amazingly positive, dynamic, smart and interesting female leaders in the form of my fellow speakers and attendees at the summit – too many to mention here suffice to say that this event took things to a whole new level for me – to be in the company of such inspiring people and learn new things about myself and the skills which great leaders have, or can develop – was priceless. I feel very grateful to my former Telstra colleague Tiffany Gray from Prism Brain Mapping (and her co-conspirator Monique Rattray-Wood) who gave me the opportunity to be involved in this inaugural summit. I flew home late last night and it’s going to take me some time to process all the information I was exposed to at the summit as it was definitely not an ordinary, but an extraordinary experience – one which will stay with me for a long time.