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The Gods Must Be Crazy

Posted on November 11, 2013 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (1)

Unconfirmed reports suggest at least 10,000 people are dead in the central Philippines province of Leyte after Typhoon Haiyan hit the region. Witnesses and officials described chaotic scenes in Leyte's capital Tacloban, a coastal city of 220,000 about 580 kilometres south-east of Manila, with hundreds of bodies piled on the sides of roads and pinned under wrecked houses.

 

The Red Cross had earlier estimated more than 1,000 people had been killed across the Philippines in the wake of the typhoon, one of the most powerful to make landfall on record.

 

A year ago, three years ago, ten years ago, I believed that a successful career was one that led to the creation of a Great Place to Work, empowerment of employees, and to the demonstration of your potential as a leader. I also believed that keeping your boss happy, hitting targets, CPI increases, and making money was critical. I expended much energy, many sleepless nights, and a few (many) shots of caffeine (and a few happy pills) keeping my focus on this. Weekends were spent in planes or creating new business models. Holidays were spent entertaining “prospective or current” employees or identifying new recruits. Nights were spent responding to emails. Lunch breaks…well I can’t really talk about them as I don’t really know what I was doing during them but it certainly wasn’t eating.

 

Yet let me remind you of how I started this piece. Unconfirmed reports suggest at least 10,000 people are dead in the central Philippines province of Leyte after Typhoon Haiyan hit the region. I watch the news. I see newborn babies suffering as their mothers are too dehydrated to produce milk. I see people etching “Help Us” in to the earth, begging for someone to read it. I hear reports of airports too damaged to let in aid, even if there was enough to go around.

 

It makes you wonder doesn’t it? It makes me know I had it so wrong. It makes me think of how many CEO’s and brilliant people and visionaries and innovators and creators and designers and builders are at work today doing ‘stuff’. It makes me wonder what we spend our time on and whether that is the best place for that time to be spent. It makes me realise how unimportant hitting targets really is if that target doesn’t leave a legacy or help someone move from one place to a better place or deliver an essential ‘life’ service. It makes me know that we need to do more. It makes me feel ill. It makes me hear my inner voice which is saying ‘we have lost our way’. It makes me see that it is only through loss that we gain.

 

I don’t have all the answers. Of course I don’t. Yet I do know that there are parts of this beautiful country, this beautiful and tragic and powerful and fragile world, which is dedicating time and effort to things that really do not matter. I certainly did. Lots of it in fact. I guess we only do our best and learn as we go.

 

It makes me think the movie “The Gods Must Be Crazy” should be remade. Yet the remake should be called “CEO’s & Policy Makers & Influencers Must Be Crazy”. Not as catchy I know, but very necessary. Do we dedicate our lives to impressing bosses and making money and following footsteps…….or are we contributing and supporting our brothers and sisters, and using all of our immense talents to solve the real life issues that confront us every day.

 

I dot have all the answers. Of course I don’t.

 

But I sure wish I did. And I at least know the answer isn’t in a Boardroom.

 

Chandra Clements

One Legacy Pty Ltd

 

Should Asylum Seekers who arrive by boat be allowed to resettle in Australia, if found to be genuine refugees?

Posted on September 2, 2013 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

As acknowledged by the Human Rights Commission, Australia has obligations not to return people who face a real risk of violation of certain human rights under the ICCPR, the CAT and the CRC, and not to send people to countries where they would face a real risk of violation of their human rights under these instruments.

 

What I notice most in these words is the emphasis on obligations and rights. Perhaps this is where we should focus in answering the above question. Who determines my rights and my responsibilities and what if living up to these responsibilities becomes too hard in one’s mind, but not in another’s?

 

Many years ago, with my small town upbringing, I may have argued that we should look after our own, that we can’t afford to rehome refugees here, that the problem is the issue of the country from where these people originate, and that the impact is too great on our wonderful land. Why did I think these things? This is what I was told. This was the apparent facts. I wasn’t asked to consider rights or responsibilities, or to deeply question how I feel about a young child and his mother sitting in PNG or Timor or a Detention Centre. That was never the requirement.

 

Yet time and travel across the world has taught me some amazing life lessons. And at the heart of these lessons is the question of who owns this land, who gives the law makers the rights to decide a person’s future and who really is our neighbor. I have learnt from watching the poor in Asia, the happy in Bali, the beautiful in the Maori culture of NZ, and the isolation of the most remote parts of Norway that we have somehow lost our way in terms of compassion, communication and decision making. We have become a people of extreme ultimatums – it is either that refugee’s stay or they go. It is either that they cost us money or we spend that money on ourselves. It is “fact” that one political party is right and the other must be wrong. It is either we stop the boats or face awful consequences. Really?? Is this really the case?? I am not so sure.

 

I would argue that the question above needs to be reworded. We are again falling for the trap of ultimatums, and deadlines, and absolutes. What if the question was “how can we resettle Asylum Seekers who are genuine refugees?” This creates solution focused thinking. It activates that part of the brain in all of us that was put there to solve problems, not simply to mock them or disagree with someone else.

 

It is very possible that in a world that can break the speed of sound, that can solve the mystery of genetic coding, that can clone people, it is very, very possible that the scenario of asylum in Australia does not need to be an “either or” debate. Could it indeed be that we ask what we would need to do to ensure that all people are treated fairly and equitably under the condition that they provide and contribute to the greater good within Australia? We could start by reasonable and fair discussions where we look at the intentions behind current asylum seeker policy and ask our law makers and politicians what their intentions are, as opposed to whether they are right.

 

I hear the criticism for Rudd’s policy to send the asylum seekers to PNG. I hear the For and Against debate. Yet more simply I know his intention is to create a disincentive to the people smugglers in risking the lives of many at sea. That is his intention. His intention is not to place people in a country where their rights may be violated. His intention is to stop the deaths at sea. Are there better ways of doing this? Yes perhaps. Should these refugees be allowed in to Australia? Again perhaps. Yet the first question needs to be what are the intentions behind the current approach and how these intentions and good will gestures can be met in smarter and more effective solutions.

 

We are creatures of invention; of great minds; of great heart. It is very possible to my mind that we could find ways to accommodate the needs of people who genuinely come here to find safety and assistance. Yet we will never do this until we start asking better questions…. and the one above isn’t the right question.

 

Chandra Clements

Managing Director

One Legacy Pty Ltd and Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year

 

Discrimination of a Different Kind??

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (1)

I am not heavily in to politics but the Australian election campaign has irked me.....again.

 

Today I watched an election advertisement featuring a senior citizen referring to Mr Abbott's "irresponsible" suggestion of paying executive women maternity leave. And I hereby want to introduce the notion of "Executive Women Discrimination".

 

Whether pensioners are adequately funded is an unrelated topic to whether executive women deserve government funded maternity leave. How we determine whether pensioners are adequately funded, and then subsequently address this if they are indeed not, is a better election topic.

 

I am in my thirties. I have no children but would love to. I have worked in 28 countries across six industries and have paid a lot of tax; tax that is used to fund welfare and hospitals and schools and roads across Australia. I am an entrepreneur, and a very hard worker.

 

I have spent the last five years travelling internationally and have faced the lonely nights, sexual harassment, disgruntled employees, abusive phonecalls, the redundancies of over 200 employees, the hiring, the firing, the tears, the disappointments, the scape goat scenarios, the lost sleep, the no win situations and the isolation of being the CEO.

 

The Australian economy is in a state of chaos right now. It will be the entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow that will pull this economy up and out, and it is their sleepless nights..... and their bottoms that pay the 40 something percent taxes to help move the nation forward.

 

I ask, I call out for an end to Executive Women Discrimination. I am more than happy to try and help find ways to increase the monies paid for pensioners but having a shot at Executive Women and what they should and shouldnt be entitled to shows a complete lack of understanding of the role Business Women play in the future of our nation.

 

What if our leaders focused on increasing national wealth through increased entrepreneurialism and innovation? Then maybe, just maybe, we could pay the maternity leave AND increase pensioner funding. What a bizarre notion!!

 

OK I step down off my soap box now.....

Apologies....

And The Winner Is......

Posted on August 19, 2013 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Jackie Frank stood on the stage, her pink summer dress a contrast to her shiny dark hair.

  

It was November in Sydney. Darling Harbour to be exact. People in their finery. Champagne flowing steadily. Fairy lights adorning the beautiful room of the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

  

When I was a little girl, my mum cut ties with her and my father’s family. In both cases it was one of those disputes that you can all relate to. What is the truth? Who knows, and in the scheme of life, does it really matter? Time heals all.... or at least it makes everything fall in to perspective after a while.

 

I had therefore grown up without the influence of cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, godparents, many family friends. I had won a number of awards as a child and young adult, but my family would hear about in the media well after it occurred. Don’t feel sorry for me or need to know more. It is what it is. That is life.

 

I don’t believe you ever know if you are ‘any good’ at what you do. The reason is that life, directors, Boards, people, economies, colleagues, regulators, you name it, constantly change the goal posts and so you can never really judge if you have ‘made it’. And when you get to where you are invariably heading anyway, the goal doesn’t seem that important or relevant. The power of destiny will lead us all to goals and places that we never really understand. Did we do it for the right reasons and was the time taken to get here well invested? Who can really say. This is what I call The Mystery of One’s Career!

 

So let’s get back to Jackie Frank. Did I mention I shared Japanese with her and the other state finalists for the Australian Young Business Woman of the Year title some six hours earlier? It was a wonderful experience of fine company, heartfelt stories, a few healthy debates and some damn fine wine……not that I drank any…….ok I did....just a little (lie) until Jackie looked at us and wisely advised that we all needed to pace ourselves as someone would need to make an acceptance speech later that evening. Note to self, Chandra – go easy, however it won’t be you so do it out of respect and good manners anyway.

 

The day before, Telstra had put on an amazing schedule of training. Public speaking training. Voice projection. Impromptu speaking galore. Lots of historical war stories. Numerous tears, great business building tips…. and some intense and life changing networking. At this stage, I would fall in love with Anne Fulwood (don’t tell her, it is my secret). That deep musky voice. Those glasses. Her stunning figure. Her wise words. Her vocal quality and deep interest in the Award’s process. Anne, this was worth completing the 58 hour entry form for these awards, I kept thinking. (Note - it wasn’t 58 hours by the way but I am a writer and so I add that piece for dramatic effect….it was 57!!) What a pleasure to meet you Anne and spend this time with you.

 

I am a small town country girl. A girl from Gresford – do you even know where that is? A girl who grew up lighting fires to keep herself entertained whilst her father worked the land. A girl who has been guided by the Country Women’s Association, supported by the Lions and Lioness Clubs, stood on tables at the local Bowls Club raising money for Legacy, hosted an all-male Debutante Ball to raise much needed funds for kids with Cerebral Palsy, an overly energetic girl who ran here, sang there, played with animals, fed cows by hand, bribed people to house homeless kittens, and has never touched a cigarette as I saw this is “Bad”.

 

And so here I was. My aunts and cousins from my father’s side filling Table Number One at the Convention Centre at Darling Harbour. Kevin and Therese at Table Number Two. My aunts giggling like school kids over how close they were seated to Kevin. My pre-prepared speech folded in my handbag.

 

I am an ordinary girl. A proud Australian. A hard worker. But just like you.

 

And the winner is, says Jackie Frank……….drum roll…….you have to watch this on You Tube……..goodness me did she draw this one out………..she glances around the extensive and well-to-do audience………….yes even a little bit longer……..really, this is getting extreme…….. Chandra Clements.

 

My head goes fuzzy, somewhat heavy. My brain slows down. My aunts are screaming. What is wrong with them? There is this light from a TV camera on my face. My eyes squint. I have to stand up. Yes that is what I will do. I will stand up and walk to the stage. Indeed, that is what I will do. Look at me in control. So very much prepared and in control. Are my legs and feet under this table somewhere?

 

Hello…..feet?? Is there anyone under there?

 

I stand and grab my speech. I furiously avoid eye contact with my Aunt Coleen who has tears forming in her eyes. Not going there. Must walk to stage.

 

I am walking towards the stage. I don’t want to read this speech anymore. Change of plans. I have to take the speech to the stage out of respect for the speech writing trainers...... but I don’t want to say that speech anymore. My backbone reignites itself. I am conscious again. I have a message to deliver.

 

On the stage I deliver my new speech. I use my previous handwritten notes as my anchor and focal point. I talk about young girls; about adversity; about daring to dream; and the need for parents to teach their daughters to aim high. And I throw in my biggest life lesson at the end, the reality that life requires resilience and courage. If you don’t have those things, you will invariably be spanked until your eyes pop out. Come on ladies, you know what I am talking about. All career minded people and entrepreneurs do.

 

The speech pours from my heart, with a microscopic (read – huge amount) of personal experience, hardship, survival, success and determination flooding my memory bank. I collect the award and return to my seat.

 

My life changed on that day. I am not going to gush at this point with how and why. You can imagine it. TV interviews, public speaking requests, the knowledge that I was ok at what I do, the confidence and inspiration to push harder and reach further.

 

Telstra, marie claire, the Alumni, Anne Fulwood, Business Chicks, Women in Focus, the entire Awards collective, you changed my world. For that, well let’s just say, this daughter of a bus driver, lover of animals, entrepreneur and women’s rights advocate says thanks.

 

Chandra Clements

 

Bronze Medal International Executive of the Year 2013 and 2012 marie claire Young Business Woman of the Year

 

A Letter from the Leader to the Employee - Change Management Series

Posted on August 19, 2013 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Employee,

 

Sometimes it may seem as if I am simply the bearer of bad news. I want to start this letter by explaining that I put my underpants on one leg at a time.........and I am just like you in that I make mistakes, have good days and bad days,and sometimes wear my heart on my sleeve.

Yes, you have guessed it in that change is on my agenda. I am working to budgets, timelines, Board rules and directives, compliance,procedures, laws, all against a variable economy. Sometimes I come to work preparing to move left and realise that I have no option but to move right. This is confusing and concerning at times for you.....just as it can be for me.

I want you to understand that I do try my best and need your help to be a better leader. Leadership is not a finite art form in that it is relative to the audience against which it is judged. Some of my team will love me.I like that. Some of my team will not.This may include you.This is just the brutal facts of being a human AND a leader. You would have the same occur in your world, regardless of your position.

In order to make the impending change process as effective and discomfort-free.....oh hang on, who am I kidding? I am not being authentic....let me try again.......change always brings the chance for discomfort, but in order for us to make this change cause the least amount of discomfort, I need your help. I may struggle to tell you this to your face as there is this misnomer that leaders always have the answers. But they don’t. I don’t. In fact, I don’t know many leaders that do, regardless of whether they will admit it or not.

I need your help. I need effective followership from you as much as you need effective leadership from me. I need you to hold me to account, to tell me when I am using ridiculous business speak that insults your intelligence and humanity. I need you to appreciate that sometimes I have to do things that I don’t want to, yet feel I have to, and so as much as you may dislike me at the point at which I give you the bad news, I need you to take a moment to realise I am trying to make this as pain-free as I can.

Whether I am any good at this is a matter of my innate and learned competence, not my desire to hurt or offend you.I need you to appreciate that there will be times when I feel I have to (or have been told to) put the welfare of “the many” before “the minority”and unfortunately this means I will have to tell you something that you don’t want me to.

There will be times when, as a group of business leaders, we will make reactive moves, move too slowly, fail to innovate, fail to recognise a shift in the market, fail to make a good call, and the outcome won’t lead to business growth. You could argue at this point that we are incompetent, or irresponsible or arrogant....or you could return to paragraph one of this letter and accept that we are human and we will invariably do our best, but that sometimes it won’t be good enough.

I have a family. I have feelings. I have fears. I have doubts about my ability at times. I have confidence that I am right at times. I can be totally oblivious to the impact I have on you and your work mates at times. I can be compassionate at times. And it is entirely possible that I will match the wrong reaction to the wrong need on the wrong day and you will wonder why you have me as your leader.

As I end this letter and face the reality that I am about to come to you to discuss major change, please spare a thought for me and my deep down desire to make all of this just go away. Yet I have a job to do and I will do it to feed my family and continue my career.

I hope I get it right. I hope I say the right thing. I hope I know how to react when you get angry with me or ask me questions for which I do not have the answers. I just hope that you can respect that I am doing the best with the skills that I have.

Signed,

Your Manager

A Message to Our Politicians

Posted on August 15, 2013 at 4:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Politicians,

Today was the day I heard Mark Latham’s comments regarding Aussie men and their judgment of whether a woman has sex appeal or not. Yesterday I heard what Tony Abbott had to say on a similar topic. Last night I watched Pauline Hanson, intermingled with election campaign material featuring Kevin Rudd, and earlier in the day I heard Tony Windsor discredit Mr Abbott’s claims that he would not cut deals with independents to form a government. Recently I heard something from someone who I believe was involved in politics at some point describe Islam as a country. Last week I brushed across the latest on Craig Thomson and his credit card issues, and then read up on a media comparison of which party leader uses social media better by taking the best selfies.

 

So today I sat.

 

I sat and pondered.

 

I don’t have children. I don’t have a daughter who aspires to lead the nation forward, address our burgeoning talent issues, our economic cooling, the state of our schools, or the total need for law reform in this country. But if I did, let’s just imagine I did, here is what I would tell her.

 

Darling, try not to be disillusioned by the state of what is and imagine and work towards what could be. Consider what you could do to demonstrate and enhance your love and respect for this nation, and its wealth of entrepreneurs and hard working people. Consider the importance of your own integrity and make sure you stand by that, regardless of the cost. People may love you for a cute selfie, but that will last merely a day..... and tomorrow they will remember your fabric, your ethics, and your personal brand. Stand not for the sake of opposition, but instead walk forward as a leader, independent of whether your opposition is turning left or right. Debates are won through a demonstration of intellect and compassion, not through clever one liners or a fight over who cheated by using notes.

 

Focus on equity, not just for women, but for good people in general, people with ideas, people who want to contribute, people who are willing to work, or those who would love to if they could. Do not fall in to the trap of sabotage, or the late night rendezvous with seedy characters trying to unearth dirt on your opposition. Instead look for the common ground with your opponent and demonstrate your ability to embrace that, to work with that, better than others. Show your commitment to yourself by saying what you mean and talking in a tone that is indicative of you. Let the people see you for who you are and tell your media advisors that it is your name that will appear under the statement in tomorrow’s papers and so it will be your natural tone and voice that you will use to deliver it.

 

Wear your hair up. Wear it down. Marry who you want for love, man, woman, black, white, Christian, Muslim, hairdresser or construction worker. And when a radio station asks you about it, just tell them you are with that person because you love them and that is all you have to say. Fear not of the weak of heart, the weak of mind, the weak of soul, who will comment on your makeup or your skirt, and instead be proud that you are living in a country where you can talk to voters without gunfire being involved. Remember that fifty percent of people will like you and fifty percent will not. And those figures do not change much for any of us, regardless of what we do, what we post on Facebook or whether we are the Prime Minister or the President. Accept that what matters is that you have a vision and that you can articulate it without repeating the same one liner over and over again..... a one liner that the public heard the first time, and if it was good enough, does not need to be repeated incessantly.

 

Understand the difference between talent and employment, between charity and need, between strength and power, between outspokenness and outcomes.

 

And never forget that people will always like to debate, but that humans need direction, crave security and want to see conviction in your argument.

 

All my love,

Your Very Proudly Australian Mother Who Wants More for Australia

 

Dear Employer from Your Employee

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 3:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Dear Employer,

 

I am a human being. I bruise. I bleed. I care about what others think, and I want to do a good job and be rewarded for it.

 

I know that markets change.

I know that there are things outside of your control. I know you have to run a business and that you have pressures and budgets to respond to. And as a result I somewhat understand that you may have to change my role, change my targets, or potentially make me redundant.

 

Yet I need to explain a few things to you in the interests of understanding.

 

Please, before you come and tell me that my job has to go, please put yourself in my shoes. Think about what you would feel. Try and empathise with how your words may impact my life. You can either help me or hinder me through this process.

 

Please don’t tell me that “the company” needs this to happen. At the point of change or the cessation of my future with you, I really don’t care about “the company”, this inanimate object or concept. Understand that it is ok to say we, me, you or I as in reality that is the brutal facts.

 

Please don’t treat me like I am a supposed to behave rationally at all times and understand from the outset why this has to happen. I am human. My brain is going to flood with chemicals stimulating the feelings of fear or rejection or pain or anger. I am probably going to say things that are irrational or hurtful at this point. Please know that this is a shock reaction, a grief process, a coping mechanism, a flashback to the past when I was rejected as a child or by a previous employer or a previous group. It isn’t personal against you and in time, I will resolve this.

 

Please don’t use the words “it is not personal”, “you have seen this happen to other people”, “you have done this to other people”, “this is how things are in the business world”, or “you are not the only one this is happening to”. At the point in time when you impact my world, take away my security and the sense of worth that is tied up in my employment, I don’t really give a hoot about those things and in fact, they are likely to aggravate me. This process is about me. It is personal. It is painful. It will impact my family and loved ones so that is more important to me at that point in time then the pressure you are under or the other people this may or may not happen to.

 

Please do not give me a letter until after I have had time to speak with my family and process it. Reading a sterile letter from HR saying “we regret to advise you…..blah….blah…blah….” is not how I want to find out, or process this. I want to process it as a human, with human support, with leadership support, with human empathy, with the chance to grieve and the chance for you to acknowledge how personal this will feel for me……before you give me that sterile letter. I know you have to give it to me, but please pick your time.

 

In the letter that you do give me, show me you are human and that I am worthy of respect. Write down my entitlements, write down my severance, write down my end date, but also think to include a paragraph, just a short meaningful paragraph on what I did for the company and my greatest achievements. Acknowledge this, given my leaving does not change the fact that I did do these things and it is comforting to know that you still regard my efforts. (Again do not write “the company thanks you”….write “I/we thank you”).

 

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, my workspace is a space, a social structure that I spend more time in (typically) than my home. Therefore allow me to say goodbye to my social network, have time to talk to my work colleagues, a chance to say goodbye and a moment (or five) to respectfully and thoughtfully pack up my belongings and reflect on their history. Do not have someone else shove my stuff in a box as is if I meant nothing or have died. Do not touch my things as if I know longer matter. Do not disrespect my personal space at this point, especially given you have already placed me in a position of shock. Give me plenty of time to pack up my things and start the healthy process of letting go.

 

I finish this letter again acknowledging that I know that sometimes life throws us a curveball. I am writing this letter to you to let you know that how you facilitate this curveball means all the difference between my ability to hit a home run in the future, or my inability to get off the bench.

 

Signed,

Your loyal employee.

 

My Morning with a Memorable Man

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 3:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Friday 22 March 2013.

Pullman Hotel - Brisbane – Australia – what feels like at this moment the centre of the universe.

A Business Chicks breakfast with Sir Bob Geldof ... yes I said SIR BOB GELDOF.

 

It is interesting isn't it? How events happen just when you need them to. Just when you are losing your footing. Just when you are starting to lose your direction.

 

I will admit I didn't really understand the power and breadth of Sir Bob before Friday. And this isn't really about his charity work or his music. It is about his aura and the capacity for one man to use his adversity and innate understanding of the human condition to individually influence every single person he interacts with.

 

Let me share what I learnt from this experience.

 

Bob says. 'You don't need to tell me your story. Every single person has a story full of pain and happiness, lows and highs, a story that would cause me to say "Really, that is difficult ... and how did you handle that?"'.

 

My learning. I am (you are) beautiful, flawed, successful, strong and weak ... just like you (me)'... and none of that will define you. It is what you do with your story and its outcomes that really matters. Do you use it for the benefit of others? Or do you harbor away the scars of the past waiting for some non-existent miracle to make them disappear?

 

Bob says. 'I don't like authority, I never have. My mum died when I was six or seven, and my father was then on the road selling towels from Monday to Friday leaving me to raise myself. I therefore don't like authority as the concept of someone directing my life is bizarre to me. I had to get on with it and take care of me. I am the one that leads the way. No one shows me how to get there. I find my own way there.'

 

My learning. Ah ha! Now I get where my reaction to leadership and wanting to have control over the future of my business originates. This isn't a power thing or a flaw in my character or an example of my inability to follow. It is a direct result of my childhood circumstances and indeed my own need to self-parent as a young person. It is therefore a gift that my parents have given me. The capacity to say "stuff this, I have to make this happen as no one else will otherwise". Perhaps every child who grows in difficult family circumstances needs to be reminded that such circumstances have created some of the most profound leaders of our time, including Sir Bob!

 

Bob says. 'As a child I could not believe the ridiculous and bullshit examples I saw of the disempowerment of people on the basis on skin colour, hair colour, race, a birth mark, such simplistic differentiators that would limit a person's ability to gain equity in the world around them. You are not alive if you can't see when another human being is being hurt. When you can step over a smelly, dirty, homeless person at your doorstep and see them as merely an issue that will affect the price of your property'.

 

My learning. I have often felt weak around others and been criticised as naïve when I stop to give money to street beggars or provide a person with a third or fourth chance or offer substantial amounts of money to an ex-US-military officer who cannot seem to reintegrate back in to society post Desert Storm or Afghanistan. The exasperated cries of "Chandra!" go out yet again. Yet maybe I am not weak in this approach. Maybe it doesn't matter what these people do or don't do. Maybe all that matters is that I still feel and see the hurt of others and am actively engaged in that discomfort and trying my best to affect it.

 

Bob says. 'Challenge leads to change which leads to Ideas which leads to a new society. The political paradigm of the 21st Century is cooperation, collaboration and communication. If we want things to change we have to talk to people, talk to the Chinese about climate change, talk to politicians about world aid, talk to world leaders about the destruction of food in the UK to keep prices buoyant whilst neighboring nations watch their children silently scream and bloat with the pain of starvation.'

 

My learning. We are not doing enough. We are not communicating enough. Our desire to have palatable and nice and socially pleasant conversations continues to undermine our ability to influence real world outcomes. I am embarrassed by the shemozzle that was the leadership spill in the Australia parliament this past week. Let's stop wasting time on egos and status symbols, and start worrying about what our legacies will be after we leave this world. I want my leaders, political and otherwise, to see and talk about those creatures (people, animals, landscapes) that are hurting and need our focus. I don't care who the prime minister is and what he said to whom about whom when he was in a corridor somewhere whilst plotting a coup. I really, really couldn't care less. Media moguls – stop giving this type of school yard antics airplay and focus on the hurt that exists in our communities and what needs to be done to fix it.

 

My final learning. I am so grateful to Telstra for giving me the chance to attend this breakfast with this amazing man. I am grateful that I live in a world where the carbon dioxide that Sir Bob breathes out may touch my skin. I am grateful to my parents for teaching me to lead. I am grateful to my unwavering ability to feel pain and hurt in others. I am affected by these feelings and I am lucky that, unlike others, I can still feel this hurt and not avoid the unstoppable desire to give, even if this is perceived as weak, naïve, pathological or purely pathetic by others.

 

I want to do more. I just have to work out how.

 

Newcastle University Alumni Awards 2013

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 3:25 AM Comments comments (0)

2013 Alumni Awards

 

The Alumni Advisory Committee is proud to announce the finalists for the 2013 Alumni Awards.

 

The Alumni Medal

 

The Alumni Medal was instituted in 1987, and is awarded to a graduate with an outstanding record of professional excellence in leadership, knowledge and/or professional practice.

 

2013 finalists are:

Emeritus Professor Kenneth Eltis AM, the University of Sydney

Professor Maralyn Foureur, Professor of Midwifery – Research, University of Technology, Sydney

Professor Mohamed Khadra, Professor of Surgery, University of Sydney

Emeritus Professor Ross Watts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

 

Newton-John Award

 

The Newton-John Award is presented to a graduate displaying innovation or creativity in any field that has improved cultural life.

 

2013 finalists are:

Vanessa Bates, playwright and writer

Karin Catt, photographer

Anton Monsted, executive music supervisor

Annabelle Sandes, photojournalist

 

Alumni Award for Exceptional Community Service

 

The Alumni Award for Exceptional Community Service recognises the work of an outstanding Alumni member who has made a significant contribution to their community which also enhances the University of Newcastle/community relationship.

 

2013 finalists are:

Emeritus Professor Maree Gleeson OAM, the University of Newcastle

Esther Kalenga, Congolese community leader and immigrant supporter

Dr W.E.J Paradise AM, CEO, Hunter Valley Research Foundation

Tim Silverwood, environmentalist and co-founder, Take 3

 

Alumni Award for International Leadership

 

The Alumni Award for International Leadership recognises an outstanding graduate who has made significant contributions as a leader in national business, commerce, industry or public service.

 

2013 finalists are:

Dr Murray Height, co-founder, HeiQ Materials

Dr Wayne Ible, Regional Director/Chief Academic Officer, GEMS Education Solutions, SE Asia

Dr William Lilley, Renewable and Distributed Energy Developer, Saudi Aramco

Dr David Okello, Head of Mission and World Health Organisation representative to Zimbabwe

Mark Vassella, CEO, BlueScope Steel, Australia and New Zealand

 

Alumni Award for National Leadership

 

The Alumni Award for National Leadership recognises an outstanding graduate who has made significant contributions as a leader in national business, commerce, industry or public service.

 

2013 finalists are:

Robert Henderson, Chief Economist, Markets, National Australia Bank

Dato Paduka Ar. H. Idris B. H. Abas, CEO, Arkitek Idris

Dr Michael McCluskey, international media and broadcasting consultant

Benjamin Waters, Director, ecomagination, GE

Dr David Zhidong Li, Executive Director and Assistant President, Vanion Group

 

Alumni Award for Regional Leadership

 

The Alumni Award for Regional Leadership recognises an outstanding graduate who has made significant contributions as a leader in regional business, commerce, industry or public service.

 

2013 finalists are:

Judi Geggie, former Director, Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle

Dr Ralph Gourlay, surgeon

Hon. Patricia Forsythe, Executive Director, Sydney Business Chamber

Don Magin, CEO, Greater Building Society

 

Indigenous Alumni

 

The Indigenous Alumni Award serves to recognise outstanding talent, achievement and / or contribution made by an Indigenous graduate in their chosen field that demonstrates initiative and excellence.

 

2013 finalists are:

Craig Ritchie, General Manager, Access and Participation Branch, DIICCSRTE

Dr Alanna Sandell, CEO, Monitor Health Solutions

Nathan Towney, Deputy Principal, Wadalba Community School

Dr Eric Willmot AM, scholar, engineer, administrator and author

 

Young Alumni

 

The Young Alumni Award recognises outstanding achievement and/or contribution made by a graduate aged 35 years or younger at time of nomination.

 

2013 finalists are:

Chandra Clements, CEO, Sentis

Dr Amanda Cox, postdoctoral research fellow, Wake Forest University

Dr Sharna Jamadar, Research Fellow, Monash University

Dr Daniel Johnstone, NHMRC Early Career Fellow, University of Sydney

Andrew Kavanagh, writer, director,composer

 

A Sultry Date with Gerard Mapstone

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 3:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Now before I receive a heated phone call from Gerard’s wife or his mum, I just want to point out that the title of this piece is just a title. It is not a confession nor an admission of anything untoward. Gerard has done little more than drive me wild with his music. That indeed is all. Promise Mrs Mapstone!

 

Picture this. A dark, foggy room. Romantic lighting. A packed Powerhouse. Liza Ringdahl and Ash Greenlees at my side. Four seats positioned in a ghostly format on the stage. An intimate theatre. A complete lack of awareness in me as to what I was about to witness.

 

I have travelled extensively in my work. New York, London, San Francisco, Dubai, Singapore, Norway. Perhaps the highlight of my travels to date has been San Diego, where I sat alone at the front of a bar one night, listening to this amazing African American jazz musician, a beautiful and highly sophisticated man, make love to a saxophone and create sounds that took me to heaven and back. It was a glassy night yet despite the beautiful conditions for a late night stroll around the city, I could not leave this bar. Anyway, I seriously digress.

Where was I? Oh that is right. Mrs Mapstone your husband has done nothing wrong…

 

The theatre at the Powerhouse in Brisbane goes quiet. Liza mumbles in her motherly tone “Off with your phones”. We comply. On to the stage walks a man, then another, and another. The third man looks a little like Russell Crowe, but again I digress. They are followed by a beautiful looking woman, jet black hair pinned back, a splash of red glitter falling from both of her ears. All four are seated amidst the foggy backdrop.

 

I have never been to Spain. I do intend to go and love the idea of their culture. The dancing, the architecture, the beautiful women, the tapas, the Sangria, the romance and passion. Yet I had no real appreciation of the beauty, the depth, the soul moving complexity of their music….until last Friday night. Indeed I have heard Spanish music and played around as a young girl swishing my skirt from side to side, and fantasising about clicking my fingers in a melodic parade. Yet I really hadn’t understood this music until last Friday. Last Friday night was the night when big things happened in my music world, but perhaps more so in my cultural world.

 

There he was. A good looking man, positioned to the right of the stage, holding this beautiful instrument. His guitar. At this point I still did not have any real appreciation for what was about to happen. And without so much as a word, Gerard wiggled his bum in to his seat, crossed his legs to support his guitar and began to play.

 

This tune filled the room. It is hard to do it justice with merely words, but it was a tune of energy, of light and of heat. The crescendos and flurry of Mapstone’s fingers on the strings captured my attention completely and I was lost. I was in Spain. I was swimming IN a glass of sangria. I was fantasising about red roses and heat and fiery relationships and bulls and taps in my shoes. I couldn’t escape from this trance. Why wasn’t there a health warning on the ticket for this show?

 

My beautiful female friend with the glittery earrings started to clap (notice that by this point everyone on the stage had become a friend in my mind). Russell Crowe (his real name is James but for the purposes of my piece he will be referred to as Russell) tapped on his seat, with a melodic phrase emulating the beating of the hearts in the audience. The violinist, Shenzo Gregoria, started to affect his instrument until it let out a wail of emotion causing every mouth in the theatre to drop. It was simply beautiful. Eerie. Emotional. Exhaustive.

 

As Gregoria continued with the intimate manipulation of his strings, Gerard’s guitar sung out with a greater and greater level of intensity. Faster, faster, higher, lower, sharper, stronger, faster and lower again. His body threw itself forward in to his guitar, protecting it like a little child. His back arched with every high note and fell with every low note. His eyes closed as he became one with the music, a smile so distant, so perfect, so reflective, formed at the corners of his mouth.

 

A further piece of music, with the same highs and lows, came and went. The audience continued to sit in silence, enjoying their trip to Spain. I was tired by this point. I felt totally emotionally affected. Where had this music been all my life?

 

And then with the third piece, life as we knew it changed forever. A woman came forward on to the stage. A bright red rose flirted from the side of her hair. She was dressed in black with provocative pieces of chiffon appearing in her flowing pants, enabling the audience a brief look at her feminine outline. This woman was from Sydney as Gerard would later announce but at that point in my life, it didn’t matter what he told me. She was Miss Spain.

 

Tap, tap, thud, thud, click, tap, thud, click, click, clap, Miss Spain twirled and forced her way across the stage in an outrageous demonstration of fire and emotion. The crowd was in heaven. Spainly heaven, albeit without the sangria and tapas (Gerard if you are reading this, perhaps a little vino at this point for me would have been nice…..just saying).

 

This vibrant beauty continued to romance the stage and its audience with her tap shoes and flowing garments. I will not say anymore other than she was superb.

 

I end my piece now as reliving this experience has caused me to salivate (and crave a little glass of vino……and perhaps a flowing skirt that I can flip from side to side whilst clicking my fingers and tapping my feet…..but enough about me). Why have I written this piece and encouraged you to read it? Simple. To celebrate dedication and culture.

 

One can only imagine what has gone in to Gerard’s training. One can only imagine the dedication, the focus on precision, the sore fingers, the mentors, the missed notes. One can only speculate as to the immense support Mapstone and his band have had from their families to get to the level of perfection that they achieved in front of me last Friday night. Shenzo’s face whilst performing on stage told a story of a man one hundred percent committed to cultural replication of a hundred Spanish musicians before him. It was worth the trip to Brisbane and then some.

 

I have found my role model for the term dedication. And last Friday I went to Spain and experienced the culmination of its culture; twisted, melded and brought to life right here at the Powerhouse. To Gerard and his band, thank you for saving me an airfare to Spain. Undoubtedly I have already been.

 

Chandra Clements 2013

marie claire / Telstra Young Business Woman of the Year & Director of One Legacy Pty Ltd

 


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