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USP Youth Leadership Forum 2018, a success

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The 2018 USP Youth Leadership Forum saw over 200 youths attending at the Laucala Campus.

The University of the South Pacific (USP) 2018 Youth Leadership Forum held at the Laucala Campus on 28 September 2018 was a great success with over 200 student leaders attending from tertiary institutions in Fiji.

Dr Akanisi Kedrayate, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE), warmly welcomed the student delegates and guests to USP and to the Forum. She reminded the participants that “you are living in the age of digitisation, entrepreneurship and innovation and can no longer be satisfied with only what they are studying in their discipline.

“You need to go beyond that and explore your potential. You need to think outside the box and as a leader you cannot afford to sleep,” she advised.

The theme of this year’s Forum was Exploring your Leadership Potential.

Mrs Ana Kitolelei Bulavakarua, FALE Student Learning Specialist explained that the Youth Leadership Forum is a USP calendared annual event, organised and hosted by FALE on behalf of the university.

Student leaders got a unique opportunity to listen and learn from young and very inspirational speakers who are in distinguished positions in the professional working environment who shared their leadership philosophy and experiences to inspire the delegates to realise their true leadership potential and in turn, become successful leaders.

The first speaker was Dr Naibuka Saune, the Head of Mergers and Acquisition at Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited (ATH), who spoke about having the mindset of learning from opportunities even if they may be considered as failures.

He encouraged the delegates to be take risks, to be open to changes, to be humble and to have integrity. He reminded them that there is no substitute for perseverance and hard-work, and advised the participants to associate themselves with people of the same value.

Dr Saune, a USP alumni who completed his Masters of Philosophy degree at the University of New South Wales and a PhD at the University of Technology Sydney, is involved in investment management, strategic & operational management matters, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and restructures.

Mr Saaqib Akbar, whose interests are in art, tech, gaming and movies, was the second speaker and shared about the importance of asking the question “Why do you do what you do?” He emphasised the importance of criticising oneself as a self reflective and learning tool. Mr Akbar, also a USP alumni, is a software engineer by profession and was a gold medalist when he graduated with a Bachelors degree in Software Engineering.

Also on hand to inspire the students with her experience was Mrs Sharon McGowan, the Personal Assistant to the USP Vice-Chancellor and President, a position she has held for seven and half years.

Mrs McGowan, who began her career with USP and worked with NGOs and also Embassies, stated that a leader is someone who knows the way, knows where to go, and shows the way. She reiterated the difference between a boss and a leader.

The fourth speaker, Mr Charles Ratakele is a lawyer by profession and specialises in Criminal and Family Law, and has a certain interest in inquest proceedings and business administration.

Mr Ratakele, who became a Magistrate at the young age of 26, spoke about the importance of having four key habits:  the ability to communicate clearly and concisely and so one needs to build on their vocabulary, possible through a habit of reading, the second habit. He also emphasised the need to have good time management and to look after one’s health.

It is hoped that the student delegates will return to their communities as a greater leader, who can lead by example and overall be an excellent individual and citizen.

The USP Youth Leadership Forum 2018 was funded by FALE, the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE), and Pacific TAFE, with additional sponsorship from Vodafone Fiji Ltd and USP Confucius Institute.

The Forum was also livestreamed via the following YouTube links:, and

This news item was published on 15 Oct 2018 08:28:48 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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