Food for thought

18 Feb 2020

The Founders’ Dinner brings all Year 13 students together at the start of their final year at College. It is a key event that marks their progress through the school, celebrating College’s history and traditions, and asking them to look ahead and consider what their legacy might be.

There was an outward-looking, forward-thinking theme to the evening, with both speakers – Old Boys Alex Baird and Robert Bell – having extensive global experience in their respective careers. While they have followed very different pathways, their stories shared similar themes.

Alex Baird left College in 2008, with no clear idea of what he wanted to do. After studying first-year law, he turned to history, before training as a journalist. He has since worked in radio and television, took a short career break to look at the way mainstream media report indigenous issues in Australia, Hawaii, Canada and Norway when he was awarded the Robert Bell (no relation) Travelling Scholarship in Journalism, and now works for international news network Al Jazeera, based in Doha, Qatar. He urged the boys to get out and engage with the world, embrace challenge and change, and appreciate that they have had a great start in life.

“This is an amazing school and you should take advantage of the opportunities you have here, but never lose sight of the fact that most people don’t have those opportunities. I encourage you to look out and engage with the world. Be curious, be receptive, be flexible, be kind and be willing to learn. Be grateful for what you have here, and understand what it will add to you when you open up to the world. Where I am now is nowhere near where I thought I would be ... so trust yourself to find your path, know you don’t have to go according to anyone else’s pace, and find fulfilment and growth around you and within you.”

Businessman, technology entrepreneur and emerging markets advocate Robert Bell is the founder of KlickEx, a peer to peer retail and institutional payments platform providing low cost foreign exchange clearing services for the Pacific Islands. A graduate of the University of Otago, AUT and Stanford University, Robert is a firm believer in the power of education to make a difference in people’s lives, and in the value of lifelong learning. He advised the boys to learn and keep learning – learn from their successes and, more importantly, learn from their mistakes. Robert chose to work in finance and banking because he believed it was an area in which he could make a difference, and he encouraged the boys to think about how they can best develop and use their skills.

“Be proud of who you are. You’ve had a really good start, so congratulations on a journey well begun. You guys are on the cusp of such an incredible period in your lives, your minds on fire with curiosity. Challenge yourself. Be vibrant, be strong in who you are, get out into the world and be the change. The most valuable resource in the world is people. Learn how to engage, communicate and create networks. It’s your time, pick up the future and run with it.”

The Founders’ Dinner was held in the Dining Hall on the evening of Tuesday 11 February.