Learning to Rise in the 2020 Future Leaders Forum

By Laura Fernandez

The Future Leaders Forum invites more than 100 of the highest-achieving students across the Faculty of Business and Economics to draw from the experience of high-profile business leaders. Now in its 14th year, the 2020 edition of this exclusive annual event was focused on ‘Learning to Rise.’

Victor Perton (Chief Optimism Officer at Victor Perton Global Partners) commented, ‘having joined the Future Leaders Forum for several years, 2020 powered by Zoom proved to be the best.’

The virtual forum was buzzing with energy, with students from the Faculty’s scholarship cohorts, Dean’s Honours List recipients, club and society leaders, and those demonstrating outstanding academic merit, leadership skills, and contributions to the community, in attendance.

Guest speakers shared their insights on how personal and professional failures have shaped their journey as leaders, innovators and risk-takers, to push the boundaries of what is possible.

Future Leaders Participants
Top row (L-R): Sarah Singh Tak and Jonas Larsen (student facilitators); Ms. Enya Cai (Panellist) Bottom row (L-R): Mr. Daniel Tram and Ms. Rannia Al. Salihi (Panellists).

The keynote address delivered an important message: “To be successful in our careers, each of us needs to work on our way of being just as much as we need to work on our ways of doing.” – Mr. Ben Walsh (Chief Life Insurance Officer at AIA).

Mr. Walsh recounted personal events that influenced his current way of being, with two key takeaways: ‘Lesson 1: Surround yourself with loyal, hardworking friends and family. Lesson 2: Failure is a necessary and inevitable step in life’s journey.’

Mr. Walsh implored students to view failure as something to acknowledge and understand, reframe, and move forward from, rather than as ‘bad.’ He encouraged lifelong learning, curiosity, and authenticity. The Future Leaders Forum is ‘a rare opportunity to explore setbacks, resilience and recovery. Future events will hardly be as unique.’ – Thomas Zhu (Student attendee).

Following the inspirational keynote, students heard from panellists Ms. Enya Cai (Senior Policy Adviser – Gender Equality, Department of Premier and Cabinet), Mr. Daniel Tram (Content Associate – Edrolo), and Ms. Rannia Al. Salihi (Founder, First Principles Denim).

The Future Leaders Forum culminated in an online networking session for 130 students with industry leaders from 20 companies, including members of the Faculty’s Alumni Council. The outstanding industry leaders shared their own experiences of corporate leadership, then engaged the students in small group discussions about the issues raised in the session.

‘I am reassured that the future of Australia (and perhaps the world) is in safe hands given the calibre of future leaders that the University continually attracts and ensuring achievement of their leadership potential through running insightful events like the Future Leaders Forum.’ – Syed Ahsan (Consultant, Deloitte).

The Faculty of Business and Economics extends its thanks to the corporate leaders and guest speakers who took part in the 2020 Future Leaders Forum, as well as the student planning committee and facilitators, Jeffrey Xia, Khai-Ling Chan, Jonas Larsen, and Sarah Singh Tak.