The power of connection
Dr Gary Saliba recently took on the role of CEO, Regional Development Australia- Murray region. He graduated from Course 16 of the ARLP in 2010, and was re-immersed in the Foundation's unique leadership Network when he attended the graduation of ARLP Course 21 in Wagga Wagga in September 2015. Here, Gary reflects on the lessons learned by undertaking the ARLP; the importance of leadership and the remarkable network of leaders that exists throughout rural, regional and remote Australia.
Prior to attending the ARLF course 21 graduation dinner and LEAD day in Wagga on 18 and 19 September 2015, I had the opportunity to attend the Nuffield conference and graduation dinner in Albury. I was inspired by the extraordinary work many of these scholars were leading in rural and regional Australia. Exposed to this experience I was very much looking forward to connect to my own ARLF network the following days.
Primed by the Nuffield experience I attended the ARLF course 21 graduation dinner and LEAD day at Wagga and Junee in NSW. In the now accustomed tradition, these were inspiring events. While I can recall the excitement, the comradeship, support and personal challenges and learnings from the ARLF programs, it was not the same as being with course participants. The spirit of ARLF all came back in the present moment as I spoke with graduates, past graduates and the wonderful team of the ARLF- past and present.
Admittedly I went to ARLF and the Nuffield events to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying dynamics of the rural/regional environment in the context of my new job, CEO, Regional Development Australia- Murray region. With this as my primary purpose, it gave me a context to listen, ask questions and observe and I was greatly rewarded with new ideas, people to contact and strategies to implement.
The LEAD excursions to Junee Correctional Centre, Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory and Downside Landcare, facilitated our understanding of the multifaceted faces of leadership and its importance in many different settings. The inmates at the correctional centre reminded us of the foundational human need for belonging, recognition and acceptance. Neil Druce at the Licorice factory highlighted the need for courage, encouragement and persistence to develop new business models to transform traditional farming practices into enterprises that are resilient into the future and in doing so, transform the town.
The experience also reminded me of the connectedness between us as graduates from the different ARLF leadership programs. I had forgotten the power of this connection. Being present at the LEAD day enabled me to participate and learn from others and also to assist others in their learning. I met the most amazing alumni with the experience, position and knowledge about Australia and the world. I was included in conversations about major organisational issues and to learn from others how they were dealing with them.
I look forward to participating in future events. I found this event greatly rewarding as it provided me with connection back to the spirit and magic of the ARLF. Thank you to Dr Anna Carr for organising the Network tour and to the ARLF team for facilitating the dinner and the LEAD day.
Dr Gary Saliba (Course 16)