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Subject matter experts and prominent New Zealand leaders share their knowledge and engage with the audience, sparking new ideas and innovation as minds from different backgrounds converge and focus their energy on a salient issue or theme.

Governance and Forces That Shape Our Thinking

by Helen Goldstraw, Administration Team Leader, Primary Maternity Administration at Counties Manukau Health

I was very nervous heading to Session Four in Wellington as I had unfortunately missed Session Three in Otara, had not flown in six years and had little knowledge of the topic governance. As I said goodbye to my husband and joined the queue to board the plane I saw Kaan and Andrew from the cohort. I instantly felt a little better and not so alone.

Thursday morning I woke up early and went down to the lobby to wait for everyone. It was great catching up with people - the warmth and comments that I had missed last time made me feel like I was starting to belong. After breakfast, we headed over to begin the day in the stunning NZTE offices in the Majestic Centre. I am not sure if the people who work there value the amazing space they have but it is a far cry from the crowded, old converted wards that make up the offices where I work!

The first speaker, Wayne Norrie. talked to us about his journey, where he had been and how he had come to be where he is today. I felt captivated by his talk; I loved his comments about looking at something from 360° perspective.

Eighty percent of New Zealand exports are generated by 186 companies and they all make the same mistakes; there is too much 'command and control', looking at the past and not looking to the future. When the right people in the room, when you have the diversity of people, you have diversity thought. I couldn’t agree more.

True leaders know the answer is outside of themselves, yet managers feel the need to solve things; definitely resonated with me. I have always thought of myself as a good leader, inspiring others to grow and learn, yet I was made aware in that moment of my own need to fix and solve things was making me a manager, not a leader. A moment of truth and growth that I have been able to take back to my team and implement; in turn hopefully growing their knowledge.

Wayne talked about the lost years and finding your life purpose which made me think about my own 17-year-old daughter who is currently lost in the decision making of where to after school? What do I want to do with my life? Should I take a gap year? Should I go to University? I took an opportunity at morning tea to talk to Wayne about this and he gave me some great advice about helping her to look within herself to find her passion. How as a mum I should inspire and empower, but ultimately the motivation comes from within her. 

As the rest of the day unfolded, I found myself reflecting upon many things Wayne had said.

Day Two I found myself struggling with my engagement and being present. After some triad conversations and a few syndicate conversations the day picked up and led into letting our hair down on Friday night, a night off. I had a beautiful Italian meal, followed by drinking, singing and dancing – oh what a night. We are definitely becoming the year of the musicians.

Day Three, we checked headed to Toi Whakaari. What were we letting ourselves in for? What would we be doing? As the sessions have managed to be unpredictable, eye opening, emotional and challenging anything was possible.

Christian Penny is amazing – funny, intelligent, engaging, captivating. I absolutely loved his session. Letting down our guards, letting go of our inhibitions, getting back to our innocent youthful selves was awesome.  I loved the musical chairs, talking with the young people currently studying and feeling like I could not wait to talk to my daughter about the school. She really needs to consider Toi Whakaari as an option. The concepts about closing the space between us, keeping eye contact and breaking down the barriers - this session for me was too short I was left wanting more exploration into Christian’s concepts.

We spent the next couple of hours with Louise, who is, as always amazing. We expressed our thoughts to the whole group - which I always find difficult. This gives me palpations, sweaty palms and a complete blankness in my head. But I am learning to be completely honest and not say what I think needs to be said or heard. My thoughts/feelings are still unclear, I am not sure of my values, my purpose, my life goal but I hope the rest of the sessions will help me explore them deeper and rise at the end of the year with a clearer picture of who is Helen. One thing is for sure the journey has begun and I am ready to start embracing it so look out Palmerston North here I come!