15 Jun 2009
Minister of Youth Affairs Paula Bennett told students to believe in themselves and dream big at the AUT University Prefects Training Programme (PTP) Leaders Summit last week.
Four hundred student leaders from more than 25 schools around Auckland and the Waikato took part in the day-long programme which featured talks from prominent New Zealand leaders including Bennett.
Bennett said her story is not typical for a politician. She told students about how she got to where she is now; going from being a teenage solo mum, to a dishwasher, to an adult student, and now to a cabinet minister.
“We all know you all have potential,” Bennett told the students. “You will have been hearing that from your family, friends and teachers. But with all due respect to them, the only person who needs to believe in your potential is you. Don’t get too hung up on how others judge you.”
Bennett offered a challenge to the students.
“Are you going to be someone who stands on the sideline or are you going to get in the game? Remember you may be disappointed if you fail, but you’ll be doomed if you don’t try.”
Bennett’s message was backed up by a business panel which featured Head of Retail Operations and Marketing for NZ Post Scott Pollard and Creative Director for Mulberry Design Ltd Susie Walker.
Walker told students to strive to be the best they could be and ignore the tall poppy syndrome that New Zealand is famous for.
“Do the best that you can and if you feel like you are being affected by tall poppy syndrome, reinvent it, make it into a positive thing,” she explained.
The business panel was one of three panels during the day. The other two panels focused on media and politics, and included Native Affairs presenter Julian Wilcox, Flossie.com editor Tee Twyford, National MP Simon Bridges and facilitator Mike McRoberts.
Emma Earl of Lynfield College said the PTP programme has given her confidence in all areas of her role as a prefect.
“Since I started the programme my work ethic has improved and I have a wider set of skills to draw on,” she said.
Westlake Girls High School teacher Jane Donald said the programme had been very valuable in terms of giving gifted students a challenge and direction.
“These kids are always told they have got potential, but PTP and events like the Summit really show them how it is done and how they can get there themselves.”
The Leaders Summit is part of the year long PTP programme between AUT and participating secondary schools, which aims to develop the potential of young leaders by exposing the students to AUT’s expertise, knowledge base and industry relationship.
The programme, which is sponsored by ANZ, features in-school visits by AUT coordinators where students are taught skills in marketing, public speaking, project management, public relations and strategic planning.