Throughout my Laidlaw journey I have learned that there is no fixed definition of what a leader is. Rather, I think a leader is someone who can instil a sense of confidence in others and guide them to become empowered to achieve their personal goals. I have gained confidence as a Laidlaw Scholar in leading groups of people of all ages and being empathetic to the needs of others through being inclusive of everyone.
I have learned how interconnected the world truly is and how it is possible to find common ground with people from all over the world. When I began my LiA in the headquarters of Over the Wall, I was the only Irish person working there. This meant that I learned to improve my communication skills with people from different nationalities. This is an invaluable skill that I have learned from my LiA which I will undoubtedly use in the future working in multinational firms with a variety of cultures. I have enjoyed learning about other cultures through meeting a diverse range of people. This is useful as in the future when I lead people I will have a greater understanding of diversity and how to find common ground between people of all different nationalities and cultures.
I also gained excellent confidence in solo travel. I have had such wonderful opportunities to travel to entirely new places on my own and really push myself out of my comfort zone. I will use this confidence in the future as next summer I plan to volunteer at another Serious Fun Camp called Painted Turtle in California, USA. I now know that I can confidently travel there on my own and experience another new environment where I know nobody. I think it is extremely important for a leader to be confident in their own skin and have the confidence to do things on their own.
I intend to lead with compassion in the future and ensure that I am inclusive of everyone. Through completing my LiA I know how hard it is for people in wheelchairs, who have visual impairments along with a range of chronic illnesses that are often invisible. I want to ensure that as a leader I include people of all abilities and that they are empowered to feel as included and valued as any other member of the team.
I want to be a leader that leads by example. Through personally having a strong work ethic and treating people respectfully I think that a team can develop a sense of comradery. Even though I was only at OTW for a short amount of time everyone listened to all my ideas. I experienced the strength of teamwork where everyone steps in to help and support to each other. The camp director was always willing to provide help to everyone. This style of leading by example created a great sense of teamwork and collaboration within the organisation.
I faced a number of challenges during my LiA in particular with staff members falling ill during camps and when my flight home from Southampton got cancelled. These were were outside my control. However, I learned excellent resilience as I overcame these unpredictable challenges. I will use this resilience going forward as I know that no matter what the challenge I will be able to overcome it. This is invaluable and I will use it in final year without a doubt.
In the future I intend to be a leader in healthcare data analytics. I want to apply the skills I’ve learned at university with my interest in healthcare and finding meaningful insights from data that could have an impact on people’s lives. I will use the confidence I have gained from Laidlaw by attending the wide variety of leadership sessions, along with the wonderful sense of empathy I have gained from helping to rebuild the lives of seriously ill children during my LiA. I will use the research and data analysis skills I have gained from conducting my own research last summer and the intercultural skills I have developed from traveling to different countries and integrating with a wide variety of people from different multicultural backgrounds. I look forward to building on all these skills I have developed in my future career and getting the opportunity to become a leader in my field.