Shelley Campbell - Every Kiwi Child Needs a Champion

Posted 7 August 2013

400x255 Shelley Campbell

Shelley Campbell is the CEO of the Sir Peter Blake Trust

I don’t remember having role models as a kid growing up in rural New Zealand, 45 years ago.  I have many happy memories of my childhood but somehow successful famous people came from somewhere else a long way away. 

Clearly my real role models (those I recognised later in life as my key influencers) came dressed not as super heroes but disguised as completely ordinary people so it’s not surprising then that I missed them. 

It was this very point that led us to develop the Sir Peter Blake dream team.  Our kids need to see and hear from people who look just like them and to make the critical connection “if they can be successful then so can I”.  Inspired by Blakey and led by our Governor General we asked 200 exceptional Kiwi leaders from all walks of life to spend one hour in one class room inspiring our kids to Dare to Dream. 

Last year we reached over 10 000 children in an hour, as successful business leaders, scientists, adventurers, pilots, journalists and doctors told their leadership stories and showed the power of role models to lift the aspirations of others. 

Every Kiwi child no matter how old needs a champion.  Someone to believe in them and who helps them understand that success is possible and achievable for them.  We want them to understand that real leadership is not about what you know, but what you do with what you know so just being smart or having talent isn’t the end game anymore.  This shouldn’t be a surprise to the country that invented No8 wire.

Characteristics to predict their success are more likely to be resilience, learning agility and the ability to mobilise diverse groups of people rather than any measure of IQ in the future.

Where we direct the energy and leadership skills of this next generation of leaders and role models matters as well.  Our country needs ordinary people with the ‘bit between their teeth’ determined to make an impact on those areas critical to the future success of NZ INC and New Zealanders.  Equity in education, justice and health outcomes, leading edge technology, science and environmental leadership.  Perhaps not areas you would head into if you wanted to win a popularity contest.

My role models gave me the courage to believe that there was absolutely no reason why a young Maori woman with 4 children from rural New Zealand couldn’t be a successful national Heath Executive, CEO, Chairperson, Trustee, and NZ delegate.  Now, I find myself leading a great team to implement the legacy of one of New Zealand’s greatest heroes – Sir Peter Blake – inspiring the next generation of NZ leaders, adventurers and environmentalists.  Amazing the difference great role models make.

Who are your role models and why?