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A Reflection on my Global Leadership Journey so far, and what awaits me ahead!

By Paige Upatising, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws

When I first started university a year ago, I was told by a friend of a colleague who graduated from the Global Leadership Program that it was a great program worth trying out. I was initially skeptical about it and had apprehensions because what could a co-curricular program possibly provide me with, other than more work? I was certainly wrong, as the many opportunities I have been fortunate enough to do have undoubtedly surpassed my expectations.

When I had the chance to participate in the Design Thinking Program run by the Macquarie University Incubator, it was the definition of hitting two birds with one stone because I could learn about innovation/startups and have a break from my assignments during the mid-semester break. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and intensive program delivered over 4 days, where it took you through the framework of brainstorming a prototype for a problem-solution fit targeted towards a specific audience, all the way to delivering the final pitch of your minimum viable product.

It placed great emphasis on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals as guidelines for the purposes of what our aim was in terms of the issue that we were directly trying to solve. The process of rapid prototyping, where we generated as many problems/solutions under a time limit and then discarded the ones that were not applicable, to focus on the best options and further fleshing them out – was an example of the flare and focus method to innovation. Not only does it teach you to have courage in putting out every idea you have, no matter how silly it might seem, but it also requires you to collaborate with others and ideate a brand-new concept that you more than likely would not have thought of alone.

Another highlight was the pressure cooker, where you had to finish the first draft of your team’s pitch within an hour before presenting. It was the most stressful part of the program because it was daunting to create a website, animated video, and storyboard of our product. However, it was wonderful to see how much could ultimately be achieved in such a short time, and the most important thing was reframing failures as learning opportunities.

Apart from the Design Thinking Program, other valuable opportunities I have done also include peer mentoring first-semester university students, and being a NSW Equity Consortium ambassador – part of the Widening Participation Unit at Macquarie which aims to address the inequity of access to and participation in education for high school students who come from disadvantaged or lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

My biggest piece of advice to students is that it is imperative to plan ahead and take on a sustainable load (in terms of colloquia to watch or credit points to finish). It is all about having reasonable expectations for yourself, to ensure that you do not burn out completely by the end of the semester. Most importantly, reach out for help from a GLP advisor if you are seeking advice or are interested in a certain area of expertise but unsure where to get started. The GLP was an avenue for me to explore my own personal interest in entrepreneurship and become a multifaceted person by gaining additional insight into something completely unrelated to what I study. If you are interested in something, there will always be a way to do it!

There is a paramount significance in multidisciplinary learning because you would not be able to truly learn anything if you were constantly surrounded by an echo chamber that only reinforces your own beliefs. Access to a multiplicity of voices and perspectives is even more essential in an increasingly globalised society, as we face unprecedented issues such as climate change that affect us all equally.

I believe that is the beauty of the Global Leadership Program – it establishes a nurturing and supportive environment that encourages its students to pursue various opportunities; whether that may be an internship, doing an online cultural insights module on a diverse Sydney suburb – or even volunteering in your local community. The possibilities of what you can do are truly limitless, especially with the option to do a credit petition to gain points for any activity you consider aligning with the GLP core values.

So, to those of you who may be at the beginning of your GLP journey, in the middle of it, or perhaps recently finished with it – I’m sure we can all agree that the values and skills we learn from the GLP can be taken and applied well beyond our years at university. With the knowledge that there is no such thing as something too challenging to do, as long as you put yourself in the places for those opportunities (which you already are if you do the GLP!), push yourself out of your comfort zone and have persistence in working towards your goals, I have no doubt that you will be able to achieve anything you put your mind to.

On that final note, I ask, what’s next on your agenda?


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