The Student Leadership Programme

May 2014 Dinner

Former Prime Minister John Howard mentors Castle Hill Leadership Students

Addressing the selected 14 students from local State and Private schools who are the inaugural participants in the Castle Hill Leadership Programme, Mr Howard spoke frankly about what is needed to be a successful leader.

Reflecting on his time as our nation’s second longest serving Prime Minister (1996 to 2007) Mr Howard said the main quality needed is “a strong set of personal beliefs that are not taken from opinion polls”. He commented that he took it as a backhanded compliment when some people remarked that they “could not stand him but knew what he stands for’’.

One must make difficult decisions and at times this will go against the tide of public opinion but Leadership is about a ‘’contest of ideas not a PR contest’’. The young HSC students listened attentively as Mr Howard went on to say that “A successful leader, be it a School Principal or a Commanding Officer, must listen and build a relationship with their people so as to inspire and encourage those around them”.

In life, one should accept the fact that we inevitably make mistakes, but the important thing is to get the big things right one can’t afford to get them wrong.

Seamus Linehan, from Oakhill College said “Meeting with an Australian hero like Mr John Howard was a true honour that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. Mr Howard touched on topics such as accepting our mistakes, being willing to go against the crowd when you believe your cause is just and most importantly having a strong set of values that lay the foundation of one’s leadership”

The dinner held at the Castle Hill golf club follows on from the recent address given to the students by the Chief Justice of New South Wales, the Hon. Tom Bathurst.

Josh Conway, a year 12 student from Gilroy College said, “Yet another great dinner full of insightful tips and thoughts on leadership. It is interesting to see the different types of leadership ideologies that each mentor has, the development of our own leadership skills are in full swing as we are able to hear from some of the great leaders of Australia.”

Dining at the Madison’s Function Centre Dural, the Hon Tom Bathurst who was appointed Chief Justice of New South Wales on 1 June 2011, informed the students that “Leadership is not about a continual stream of success, failures are just as important, they give you experience, and a story to tell.”

Member for Castle Hill Dominic Perrottet said “The advice provided by both Mr Howard and Mr Bathurst was invaluable for the students, I am sure that they will take a lot from the experience and draw on the advice as they embark on the HSC and post school life.”