Conference Wrap Up

In February 2019, our South Australian Alliance fellow members, The University of Adelaide, hosted the Golden Key Asia-Pacific Leadership Summit. This event welcomed Golden Key members from across our region to inspire, challenge and recognise their involvement in Golden Key, and therefore their hands-on, proactive involvement in their future. The conference is called a Leadership Summit as it encourages attendees to reach their potential and use their skills and abilities in the wider world – something that is categorised as a leadership quality if you go by definitions. And here at Golden Key, this definition is precisely what defines their three pillars of academics, leadership and service. They believe that all their members are leaders, and the extent and application of their leadership is entirely up to them. And so, the Leadership Summits exist, and give members from across our university, our state, our country, our region and the rest of the globe the opportunity to immerse themselves in Golden Key and with Golden Key.

Zoe Kassiotis

It’s always good when an experience is all the positive things you expected it to be.

However, experiences that are both that, and so much more are the most rewarding, memorable and special ones. For me, the 2019 Golden Key Asia-Pacific Leadership Summit was just that: rewarding, memorable and special. I anticipated a degree of professional development, but what I got from this conference was that as well as a whole lot of layered personal development. I have high expectations, so naturally I expected to consume knowledge from industry leaders, just as I expected to be inspired and motivated by their success. I expected to be surrounded by brilliant minds and to engage in some interesting and thought provoking conversation.

Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely experienced all of those things. Successful keynote speakers who came from humble beginnings inspired me with their drive to overrun life’s roadblocks and continue coasting along the path to their success. I learnt that this path is often not linear and that success will look different for all of us. I learnt if I want to be in a future role, then I need to act like I am in that future role. By listening to the speakers and conversing with my Golden Key peers I learnt the most valuable lesson of all: that you gain far more from listening than you do from talking. Communication isn’t just about giving, it’s about receiving.

However, what I didn’t expect from this conference was to receive so much raw, honest and soul-filling interaction in just three days. I didn’t expect to form life-long friendships with people who aren’t just brilliant students, but brilliant humans. I didn’t expect to feel such a humbling sense of belonging and laugh until my eyes watered and my belly ached. This conference gave me the opportunity to connect with likeminded individuals from across the globe, build relationships through soul-searching workshops, and to celebrate our new whirlwind friendships at the amazing gala event at the Adelaide Zoo, which truly was a night to remember. Most of all, I didn’t expect to hear from such a diverse range of speakers with the most authentic and touching stories. They weren’t just accomplished speakers at an academic conference, they were real people with real experiences.

Bruce Meatheringham’s workshop taught me that vulnerability is always the right answer and that the most important thing for people who experience Synaesthesia is to be believed. Kerri Pottharst openly shared with us that she’s not a positive person, she just decides “not to have negative thoughts.” She also taught me that my ‘why’ is my motivation. Pratishtha Purohit taught me that the most valuable information is hidden in the unspoken words of someone’s emotions. She taught me that we are so much stronger than we know, and that most importantly, I am a star.

We truly do all have a story; and this conference gave me the invaluable opportunity to listen and learn from those with some particularly extraordinary ones. The 2019 Golden Key Asia-Pacific Leadership Summit did indeed challenge my thinking in ways both expected, and unexpected. The unexpected challenges were in the hidden gifts of this conference, so I encourage everyone to delve deep into, and unravel life’s surprising treasures.

Cherry Siying Li

Thank you for giving me the grant to join the conference this year! I found the conference amazing overall. I loved both the workshop and the social networking elements in the summit, and how different the experiences of each were.

I didn’t manage to make it to most of the workshops because I involved in the SAA steering committee, who had lots of other organisation bits, and tasks that needed completing behind the scenes. But, even though I was a little stressed with the sheer amount of work that needed doing over the three days, in the few workshops I went to, I met amazing people who almost brought me to tears. If I hadn’t attended the summit, I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet these people, or realise that there actually are people out there who care so much about student’s mental health and lifelong career choices. And now I even have their contact method, thanks to some nifty networking!

I really appreciated the opportunity to meet those lovely, amazing people and I really look forward to attending more workshops and events in the next year!

I helped with organizing the social networking games in the conference. I regard it as a valuable experience. This is my first time to be a tour guide for a group of strangers. I have been living in Adelaide for 6 years, and already it is my second hometown. Communicating with newcomers remind me how excited I was when I just arrived here, and also how wonderful this city is.

My life was boring as a “high achiever” who spent most of her time on study and work. Helping with organising the social events make me realize that there are lots of ways we could cheer up others – and ourselves. I’d also like to say thank you to people who are in the volunteering team; with their company I never felt alone during the conference.

In summary, I really enjoyed this summit. I love those workshop and the social activities we had. Look forward to attending it next year!

Hui Shyen Wong

For the past 2 years, I have heard so much about the conference through other committee members. This year, I finally decided to participate in it. It had met the high expectation I had, which came from listening to others’ experience. The conference had made me challenge my thoughts in multiple ways and I had also met many people from different walks of life.

It was truly an eye-opening experience to listen to the very first speaker from the conference, Sterlarc. I was amazed on the effort Sterlarc undertook to ‘make a difference to the performing art industry’. This made me question the sacrifices he made for his ambitions/occupation and if I would do the same, when I am passionate in making a difference to my career path.

The last speaker of the conference, Damian Ward on the topic, ‘No One is Right – Living in the Grey!’ really challenged my thinking. His talk made me realise the different interpretations of people – which made it hard to find the truth, leaving the question of how the truth is defined. I have never thought about this subject matter in that perspective, which made me ponder upon it. In the past, I have always thought there is only one universal truth. In that reality speaks the truth – and the different interpretations of the world blinds that one truth.

The other speakers I found inspiring were Pratishtha Purohit and Kerri Potthrast (Never have I imagined being able to be this close to an Olympic gold medallist and holding her medals with my bare hands!). Both their life stories were truly inspiring which almost brought tears to my eyes. How they have lost what meant so much to them from an accident was their turning point in life. They deserve to be respected for the resilience and effort to get back on their feet after the disaster, which they have become a role model of others.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Golden Key for organising this conference, which not only challenged my thoughts but also expanded and strengthened my social circle.

Lauren Williams


Stelarc’s discussion surrounded how the body can be modified using various forms of technology and was fascinating. He is someone who is testing the limits of his body to learn ways in which we can advance our technology and incorporate it into our lifestyles. It was particularly amazing seeing the amount of time he has committed to experimenting and sharing his ideas around the world. This was a concept I had never engaged with before and found it intriguing to see the extent to which an individual is willing to make sacrifices for the purposes of experimenting and testing limits. I thought this was something that heavily reflected the focus of the summit which was to challenge our thinking.

Yashwant Prakash Vyas:

This was a particular interest of mine since Yashwant’s discussion surrounded world cultures, cultural competence and global citizenship. He introduced concepts such as intercultural communication and intercultural competence and what constitutes a global citizen. It was valuable hearing the perspective of someone who has experienced and lived amongst diverse cultures.

Rakin Hasan:

I found this talk extremely beneficial since I am at a stage in which I am going to experience interviews, have a suitable Linkedin profile and CV. He presented points that were relevant for those who are unsure about what kind of work they want to be doing and not sure about the steps to achieve their goals. Since he has had experience in different working environments he was able to present useful tips to those who are looking for work. This includes for example remaining up to date with currant news and information. He gave useful information about how to structure an effective resume to ensure you capture the attention of the reader at first glance. He also gave tips for creating a cover letter, Linkedin profile and interview preparation. This was information I had not come across before so I took notes that will help me.

Damian Ward:

This workshop looked at different types of personalities and working styles you may come across in your working life. He gave us a collection of scenarios that each group needed to discuss and present their ideas to the group. The scenarios were challenging us to come to a decision about how to handle the situation. For example, my group looked at a situation in which you and a friend had created a Netflix show and the friend was not carrying their weight in work. We were informed that this is a person who is easily upset and can be manipulative. We agreed that the person should be approached regarding their position but needed to be approached in a way that minimised any disagreement that would harm the project. Damian discussed a variety of personality types and how they might behave. This was a concept that most of us had not explored in this way so it was very interesting.

Pratistha Purohit:

Pratistha’s talk was extremely captivating. She opened up about her personal experiences and challenging journey of recovering from an accident. This set up the rest of her session which inspired us to consider the various aspects of our lives including what we truly valued. She helped me to reflect and become more aware of the plans I have for the future and the ways in which I might be able to achieve those goals. It was inspiring to hear from someone who had come out of challenges in her life and make change to support herself but ultimately support other people.

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