Each year, the Foundation holds Leadership Network graduation events to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions made by outgoing members.
The Foundation's executive director Simon Draper says this year's events were also an opportunity to get members together for the first time in a while and reflect on their experiences with the network.
“It was great to reconnect with network members in Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch to congratulate our departing graduates after a year of reduced face-to-face connection, as well as hosting a live online event for our Auckland graduates – the first of its kind for the Foundation. It was an exciting opportunity for us to do something special for our Auckland members, given the constraints of lockdown.
“These graduation events also give us an opportunity to acknowledge the value that the Leadership Network holds, both for its members and the Foundation.”
The Leadership Network is New Zealand’s best Asia-focused leadership development network. It is comprised of emerging leaders in all areas of life who want to make a difference in the New Zealand-Asia relationship. The Foundation equips Leadership Network members to thrive in and with Asia by providing opportunities to connect, learn and engage with the region.
Director leadership and entrepreneurship Adam McConnochie says the graduation events are an integral part of the network’s presence within the Foundation.
“Over the last couple of years, the Leadership Network graduation events have become increasingly important. As well as honouring our graduates, they help us tell the story of the network and help forge its culture. This has been especially clear this year with three three members from our inaugural intake in 2007 graduating.”
Leadership Network members listen to graduating member Jack Sheppard as he reflects on his journey within the Network
After graduating from the network, former network members can remain connected with the Leadership Network Mentorship programme, which pairs up experienced mentors with new mentees, to enable connections and professional development.
The graduation events also provide an opportunity for members to reflect on their journeys throughout their time in the network. For some, that means looking back to the inception of the Leadership Network in 2007.
Some quotes from departing members:
Jack Sheppard: “Graduating from the Leadership Network really helps me set a milestone, looking back at some of the best memories of my life while looking forward to all the future opportunities waiting with fellow members and alumni connections: ka mua ka muri.”
Leadership Network graduate Jack Sheppard speaking at the Wellington graduation event
Chris Henderson: "Before joining the network, I felt somewhat isolated in my professional circle as the guy who lived and worked throughout Southeast Asia, spoke an Asian language, and was still committed to further building my knowledge and competencies in the region. The Network introduced me to a community of professionals who lived and learned like me and shared similar aspirations. It was so affirming.
"Some of my career highlights to date come from Leadership Network Hui. Attending an Islamic punk concert outside of Bandung, Indonesia, or taking a taxi two hours out of Bengaluru, India, to trail run South Asia's tallest granite monolith were not on the formal agenda, but were able to happen alongside productive meetings with business executives, social entrepreneurs, and government ministers. I loved the full spectrum of experiences and insights that these hui provided.
"As Advisory Board Chair, I further developed my own strategic leadership and governance skills, but more importantly I helped reaffirm the Leadership Network as a flagship Asia New Zealand Foundation initiative, and as the preeminent pipeline for young New Zealand leaders who are able to engage with and thrive in Asia. To have had this opportunity I am incredibly grateful and proud."
Thomas Lam: “The Asia New Zealand Foundation has been very helpful and supportive for my personal journey from New Zealand to Asia. The network provided great opportunities to connect with like-minded people around Asia and the world. I feel there is a special comradery between members – everyone is very willing to help. Graduating is not goodbye; I look forward to continuing to grow with the network. Thank you, Asia New Zealand Foundation, for planting the seed for which the network will grow!”
Tessa McGregor: “After being lucky enough to spend four years studying in Singapore on an Asia New Zealand Foundation scholarship, I was glad to be able to continue my association with the Foundation by becoming an inaugural member of the Leadership Network.
“My 15 years in the Leadership Network has provided some exceptional opportunities to learn more about Asia both in New Zealand and offshore; and allowed me to meet an outstanding group of young leaders who have had a tangible impact on my personal and professional life.”
Simon Gray: “My 13-year journey with the Leadership Network coincided with, and was informed primarily by, my academic and professional development, I graduated with a PhD in International Relations and Security Studies (IRSS) from the University of Waikato in 2018. Accordingly, engaging in a range of activities and opportunities afforded through the Network related to my research, tutoring and guest lecturing roles while studying at Waikato University, including Track-II programme, organising on-campus events, research travel grants, and Manila Hui. These experiences enhanced my professional development, knowledge, and skillset to better equip me with the tools to engage and thrive in Asia, within the context of academia and IRSS especially, including as a Visiting Research Associate at the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, Nanyang Technological University (2013-2015).”
- Charlie Gao – Auckland
- Sam Gaskin – Auckland
- Simon Gray – Invercargill
- Daniel Henderson – Auckland
- Tessa McGregor – Auckland
- Priyanca Radhakrishnan – Auckland
- Jack Sheppard – Wairarapa
- Chris Henderson – New York
- Thomas Lam – Hong Kong
- Elaine Pratley – Melbourne