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A Kiwi’s experience with Cultural Intelligence

Aaron Hape, Civil Servant and 33Fifty alumni

In the run up to the 33Sixty programme, alumni of 33Fifty share their experiences of how the programme helped them in their personal and professional development.

The skills I learnt and the experiences I shared on 33Fifty have aided me in developing my personal leadership skills in many ways over the last year.

One of the lessons that has stuck with me is the need for good leaders to understand how to work effectively across cultures. The programme required all participants to fully immerse themselves in another culture and work with different people from around the world. By sharing opinions and ideas, we began to understand how a person is driven and how people rationalise culturally diverse experiences. I learnt about what makes people different and how different perspectives can be an advantage when working in a group to develop an innovative project.

33Fifty also taught me the importance of cultivating a strong network. Every single one of the 100 young leaders who were on this programme had already contributed so much to their communities and were clearly bound for great things. To my surprise however, there did not seem to be any Type A personalities – yes, there were energetic people who were confident in their decisions, but that did not come at the expense of humility.

The connections I made and the learning I undertook have helped me immensely in developing my own leadership style. I already led my own organisation but it wasn’t until I made meaningful friendships with these people that we were able to compare shared experiences and help each other improve on the limitations we saw in ourselves. The power of critical but constructive feedback is crucial and should be taken whenever possible.

33Fifty alumni have gone on to do amazing things; two have become Queen’s Young Leaders, another is expanding her Asian-based organisation that exchanges incandescent light bulbs for eco-friendly bulbs to cut energy bills for the less well-off, and many have been successful in ensuring their local communities are benefitting from those skills they learnt in Scotland.

33Fifty was an absolutely amazing experience, and I was privileged to meet so many inspiring leaders. I am delighted that the legacy will continue with 33Sixty and I’m looking forward to seeing the projects and passions that arise from the next programme.

Applications for the 33Sixty programme are now open. To find out more and to apply, visit the Common Purpose website