2019 UC Leadership Dinner | University College

UC Leadership Dinner encourages diversity in thinking

Div Pillay delivers the keynote address at the 2019 UC Leadership Dinner

Head of College, Dr Jennifer McDonald welcomed CEO and co-founder of MindTribes, Div Pillay and 2019 Dr Angela Milne scholarship recipient, Drew Ireland-Shead as well as students, alumni and community members to the UC Leadership Dinner in Syme Dining Hall on Thursday 5 September, 2019.

Div, an ambassador for Plan International and board member of STREAT, delivered four key lessons for the evening and encouraged students and guests to try to implement her leadership concept of Feel, Think, Do:

  • What problems do you FEEL strongly about?
  • THINK diversely about your initial ideas or problems to solve, open up your circle to those different from you to get perspective, include diverse thinking and people to help solve the problem from different angles.
  • DO this right now. Make one small commitment to act on a problem or an idea, on improving who you think with, how you welcome ‘different’, on measuring your leadership impact.

“My challenge to you as young leaders – are you influencing those around you from their position?  Are you crafting your message in your follower’s language? Or are you influencing them from your own position and communicating with them in your own language?”

“Should you be waiting to lead – waiting to finish your education, waiting for a formal role, waiting for others to start?  No, I challenge you to start now.”

“Leadership starts with you.”

– Div Pillay

(L) UC Leaders with Div Pillay, and (R) Resident Tutor, On Zhi presents his question to Div during Q&A

2019 Dr Angela Milne scholarship recipient and Chancellor’s Scholar, Drew Ireland-Shead also spoke passionately about her leadership experience and ideals.

Having grown up in a progressive area within a relatively safe and democratic nation, Drew spoke of her time abroad and the challenges she faced interacting with people whose views seemed worlds apart.

Drew believes, “one of the crucial attributes of a leader, whether you’re the Prime Minister, a company manager or a student leader of your residential college, is the ability to understand different people and help them to be their best.”

“When you take the time to get to know people, you find that there are a lot more layers to them, than what you might initially see. During my time in America, I came to realise that I could connect and enjoy the company and friendship of people so very different to me, learn to appreciate how their views were formed and learn to voice my own opinions, in a way which wasn’t antagonistic or patronising,” Drew said about her time during an exchange program in 2016.

Div, who was also selected as one of the AFR Qantas 100 Women of Influence in 2018, finished by elaborating on the cultural diversity within individual communities and posed the question of whether or not that cultural diversity was truly being leveraged to ensure positive, inclusive and diverse outcomes for all.

“One in eight of Victoria’s youth community is an international student, there are 100, 000 international female students in Victoria. You don’t even need to look to your state, as you have the microcosm of the real world right here in your college – men, women, people from diverse backgrounds, some from privileged backgrounds, some from less privileged backgrounds.  I will challenge you to assess whether you are including this diversity every day? The reason I raise this is, despite being founded by impeccable female leaders, since University College became co-educational in the mid-1970’s, there have been just 14 female Presidents out of 41. Looking more recently, from 2011, there have been only two female Presidents out of nine.

This tells me that you are not choosing to include and leverage your advantage of diversity, and your privilege as much as you can.”

– Div Pillay

Special thanks to Div Pillay and Drew Ireland-Shead for presenting on the evening and to former Head of College, Dr Angela Milne whose scholarship supports this event.

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