Inspiring Better Leadership

The Cambridge Student Leadership Conference The Cambridge Student Leadership Conference involved a Q&A session with an expert panel

The Cambridge Student Leadership Conference aims to spark dialogue between prospective future world leaders, writes Year 12 student Nabiha Sidat

The Cambridge Student Leadership Conference (CSLC) is an annual event organised by GEMS Cambridge International School – Dubai (CIS) that hosts more than 100 students from across the UAE. The aim of the event is to spark dialogue between prospective future world leaders who leave an imprint on their school ecosystem by participating in student leadership opportunities.

This year’s event on 12 October commenced with student leaders mingling and networking, which was integral to building a solid foundation for their exchange of ideas. All students gathered in the CIS auditorium for a Q&A session with a panel that included Fatima Martin, Principal of GEMS New Millennium School – Al Khail; David Fitzgerald, Vice President – Education at GEMS Education; Arfaz Iqbal, Senior Presenter at Arabian Radio Network; and Dr Arindam Banerjee, Associate Professor and Deputy Director Global MBA and Master of Global Business at SP Jain School of Management.

These panelists provided valuable insight into what leadership is in today’s context. They answered pressing questions concerning the evolution of the concept of leadership. Popular questions included defining parameters for success or failure, behavioural patterns in innovative leaders and the role of schools in inspiring a generation of such leaders.

The CSLC culture promotes action-based development of key leadership skills, owing to which the conference inculcated four broad aspects: Action Planning, Crisis Handling, Debate and Emotional Intelligence. Student participants were divided into groups and sent away to partake in a day of productive discussion, aimed at helping them grow as leaders. Action planning, headed by the CIS student leaders, provided a platform for young, innovative and enterprising minds to come up with viable solutions to some crucial sustainable development goals, such as climate change, quality education and clean water and sanitation.

Crisis Handling offered an opportunity to polish skills in high pressure situations, providing insight into the practical world of leadership and a taste of the many obstacles students could encounter as leaders.

Debate, a favourite among the participants, opened up the floor to engaging opinions shared on motions related to leadership. Students challenged their beliefs with rationale and critical thinking skills, fulfilling the objective of the workshop. Finally, the Emotional Intelligence workshop was headed by Sandra AJ Carter, Founder and CEO of Ms Sandra’s Educational Services. The session imparted the benefits of using an emotional approach for more effective decision-making. Students came up with definitions of an emotional leader and discussions took place on how they could internalise this concept to become better leaders in their own schools.

The Cambridge Senior Student Leadership Team organised the CSLC for the second consecutive year: “We had to take everything right from last year’s event, and do it better… The constant cycle of ‘this is not good enough; it can be done better’ was mentally and physically taxing. However, the moment all 125 leaders from across the UAE walked in, we knew it was all worth it. It was a highlight in our academic year.”