[By Jayshree Low]
The prestigious 33Sixty leadership conference is organised annually by non-profitable, United Kingdom based organisation, Common Purpose. It is usually held in the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in the world, and on April 2016, it was held in Glasgow, Scotland’s City of Culture.
This year, two beautiful and ambitious young ladies, Sally Peh from Taylor’s School of Biosciences, and Ng Himin from Taylor’s Law School, were among the 100 participants worldwide that were selected to partake in the conference. Inspired by last year’s 33Sixty Malta, both Sally and Himin were determined to represent Taylor’s and Malaysia in this year’s 33Sixty Glasgow conference.
What was your favourite part of the whole experience?
Sally: Mine was the 20-minute discussion on euthanasia I had with my group mates. The purpose of the discussion was to spark friendly debates among group members and to get to know each other’s perspectives of world issues. Apart from that, I also truly enjoyed the meeting the CSC leaders. It was truly inspiring to meet and talk to knowledgeable people who are passionate about what they do and the changes they want to bring in their field of specialisation.
Himin: My favourite part was the 30-minute ice-breaking session. During the session, my assigned roommate and I had to talk about our core values, what we believed in, and how much we could be flexible about our core values. This session was truly memorable to me, because within those 30 minutes, I have learned so much about myself, and I had made a new friend whom I can connect and share my thoughts and opinions with.
The conference was centered around the theme, “How do we create a step change in the way the private, public and not-for-profit sectors work together”. How did you and the other participants take part in the conference? What was your role as participants?
Sally: We got to visit public, private and not-for-profit sectors during the trips that were organised. The few places we were taken to included Glasgow City Council, The Scottish Government, Whitley Group, and Barclays. The visits and the meetings with people from different organisations were arranged to help the participants get a clearer picture of how different sectors operate and the problems faced by them. Taking all that into account, we were expected to find a solution to get all three sectors to work together to achieve a common goal.
Himin: Based on the theme, each group had to pick an issue to solve by bringing all three sectors together. Issues that were brought up included rape and education, and most of us proposed solutions based on medical related issues. After picking an issue, we had to propose a possible solution, pitch the idea to an assigned mentor for feedback, then present it to everyone at the conference. Take my team for example. We proposed to set up a business consultancy model that allows public and private sectors to work together to solve the issue of inadequate medication in Kenya. Apart from that, we proposed to set up a business consultancy that links public and private sectors to the common goal of increasing access to medical facilities and treatment without hampering individual organisations’ goals, bringing in not-for-profit medical and health care organisations to draft guidelines and act as an advisory board.
It’s amazing how you girls got to speak and propose solutions on what has been an ongoing issue of getting public, private and not-for-profit sectors to work together and to stress on the fact that more can be done if all three sectors work towards achieving a common goal. Can you share what you have gained from the whole experience?
Sally: As for me, the whole experience was overwhelming. I met so many people who were so knowledgable and so outspoken on the theme, and being there with these people made me come out of my comfort bubble and actively participate in discussions by voicing my opinions. I realised how each and everyone of us has the potential to contribute to the team we are in and therefore, we should not be afraid to voice out our opinions just because we are afraid of our ideas being rejected.
Himin: For me, it was the realisation of how important it is to be passionate about the career path that we choose. Most of us Malaysians – in fact, most of us Asians – are doing majors that are bound to land us jobs that will pay more, or are looked highly upon by society. However, the participants I met were brilliant and knowledgable on the field of their choice, and they were all so passionate about the majors they’d chosen. It really made me realise that when we love the field of our choice, we tend to put in the effort to learn more than what we gain from the classroom, hence helping us shine in interviews and succeed in our careers.
Standing behind and supporting the girls all the way was none other than Miss Dorcas and the Shine Award Center. Miss Dorcas is in the panel that had selected Himin and Sally, and since then had guided the girls through every step of the preparation.
What are the qualities that the selecting panel look for in potential participants?
Firstly, SHINE students will be prioritised. Apart from that, what we were looking for and had found in both Himin and Sally are high leadership qualities. Furthermore, both the girls took a lot of initiative in finding sponsors and raising funds for their trip. Even though there were no fruitful replies from approached sponsors and the Shine Award Center had to step in to help them out, the selecting panel are, nevertheless, so proud of Himin and Sally for their hard work. Besides that, we are also looking for students who have ideas or projects that they want to do to contribute to Taylor’s University. It can be to bring notable speakers for a talk, or maybe a joint project between Taylor’s and organisations that participants will meet, but at least something in mind.
What are potential participants expected to know before coming for interviews for the next 33Sixty or similar programmes?
Definitely about exactly what they will potentially be joining — in the case of 33Sixty, it is the challenge topic. We are looking for students who have something in mind to build up on, like an idea to be pitched at the conference, and of course, to share their experience with the student body by giving back to the university.
Any advice from you and the panel to students who wish to join international conferences like Himin and Sally did?
It is a privilege to be able to represent the university for prestigious conferences such as 33Sixty. Not only does it add a feather to the cap but it also helps broaden students’ perspective and provides a platform for university projects to be carried out with international organisations. Even though the selecting panel can only send 2 or 3 students for every conference, we definitely encourage students to try out for interviews because we love it when you put in the effort to at least give it a try.