Sir Peter Blake was an outstanding world citizen and one of New Zealand’s heroes. He expressed through his actions what is best in all of us – the propensity to dream wonderful adventures, the courage to pursue them and the intellectual perception and capacity to turn them into reality.
The Sir Peter Blake Trust exists to inspire and celebrate Blake-style leadership across New Zealand so that we may realise our potential as a nation. Through the annual Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards the Sir Peter Blake Trust ensures ensures his legacy of leadership in action continues.
2012 – Roseanne Liang
Roseanne Liang was Dux of St Cuthbert’s College in 1995 and went on to graduate from the University of Auckland in 2003 with a Master of Creative and Performing Arts with First Class Honours in Film, Television and Media Studies.
Roseanne was the director and writer of the aclaimed 2011 film My Wedding and Other Secrets, which was based on her award-winning documentary Banana In A Nutshell. The film won the Best Screenplay Award for a feature film at the Aotearoa Film & Television Awards and Audience Choice Awards at two New York film festivals.
In 2005 she was awarded the SPADA New Filmmaker of the Year Award, and won many awards in 2007 at the Berlin and Valladolid Film Festivals for the short film she wrote and directed, Take 3. In 2008 she was awarded WIFT’s Woman to Watch Award for Women in Film and Television.
With hard work, passion and determination Roseanne continues to be successful in a highly competitive industry. She is a creative woman of rare talent and is described by many as one to watch in the future. Roseanne is the sixth Making Their Mark recipient (awarded in 2011) to then go on to receive a Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Award.
2010 Making Their Mark recipient, Rebecca Elvin, was this year awarded a Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Award, recognising her as an Emerging Leader.
Rebecca completed a degree in Law and Politics before exploring the practical route, working in various overseas courts. She is currently completing a Masters in Conflict Resolution at King’s College, London and is planning to complete a Doctorate of Philosophy at Oxford University later this year. Her end goal is to move into judicial consulting.
Rebecca is the fifth Making Their Mark recipient to then go on to receive a Sir Peter Blake Trust Leadership Award.
2010 – Dr Karen Willcox
Karen Willcox – an Old Girl from 1985 to 1989 – is currently Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Co-Director at the Center for Computational Engineering at the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she gained her Masters and PhD.
Professor Willcox has worked at NASA Dryden Flight Research Centre, in the middle of the Californian desert and at Boeing Phantom Works, where she assisted with the development of “the blended wing body” – an environmentally friendly futuristic aircraft. She hopes to become New Zealand’s first astronaut, having been named a finalist in the latest astronaut selection for NASA.
She is a popular guest lecturer at universities, having made more than 50 appearances in that role, including here in New Zealand. Putting into practice her love of teaching, Professor Willcox has also mentored many primary school students, taught mathematics and mentored for the Science Club for Girls Rocket Team and for a number of undergraduate and graduate students at MIT.
She spoke of the importance of service to a professional person. “It’s incredibly important, whether it’s serving on committees to advise politicians or companies or whether it’s being an editor for a journal. There are just so many places you can serve and be involved in.”
2010 – Dr Renee Liang
Consultant paediatrician and playwright Renee Liang is a specialist paediatrician with an interest in youth health, especially in the interface between arts and healthy behaviours. She was involved as a core researcher on the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study. The “proud Old Girl of St Cuthbert’s” also holds a Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Auckland and is working on her first novel. Her plays include Lantern, Mask and The Bone Feeder. Mask was the first of her plays to be professionally produced and was performed in the Manawatu Festival of New Arts in 2008.
Dr Liang’s articles have been published in the New Zealand Listener and several other magazines. She endorsed the commonality and mark of success that comes with having more than one career. “It’s not unusual and it’s not haphazard either. It is in fact something that is quite a logical progression.” She suggested students build on their school bases, follow their strengths, but most of all follow their “bliss” – something that has certainly happened in her life.
Dr Liang was chosen as one of 12 representatives from New Zealand to take part in the Emerging Pacific Leaders Forum 2010, a regional meeting of minds designed to foster the next generation of Pacific leaders. It was organised by Commonwealth Study Conference alumni and is supported by governments and organisations in the region.
2009 – Rachel Paris
Rachel Paris has broken ground in the legal community as the first partner to be appointed in a part-time capacity at her firm, Bell Gully. Demonstrating professional leadership by negotiating this partnership arrangement, she hopes to inspire a fundamental shift in the traditional business model for law firms and to encourage young lawyers to lead a full life, which incorporates family and a fulfilling career.
While managing her legal profession with motherhood, Rachel also pursues her interest in media and film – co-authoring a feature film screenplay currently in production with South Pacific Pictures. “The screenplay project is also a way of leading by example to my younger colleagues that they need not be confined to the role of “traditional” lawyer. We can pursue our passions and contribute to the cultural fabric of New Zealand while maintaining office jobs.”
A strong belief that leaders can be “made” and need not be “born” continues to inspire Rachel to lead by example and get involved at a grass-roots level as much as possible. At Bell Gully, this means playing an active role in the law firm’s recruitment process and in developing training initiatives for juniors across the company. Rachel considers the appointment of the many junior staff she has mentored over the years into challenging positions at Bell Gully, and in the local and international business community, to be one of her most rewarding achievements.
Rachel began her legal career at Bell Gully in 2000 after graduating with a conjoint Law and Arts degree, coming top of law school and her honours programme. In 2003, she came first at Harvard Law School in the specialist International Finance LLM Programme, with her dissertation cited as “influential” by the Wall Street Journal editorial in December 2007.
Rachel believes popular views of leadership have evolved substantially during the past decade with leaders no longer being just the formal, authority figures. “In this knowledge age, the more relevant leaders are the innovators who challenge the way things have always been done because they are ambitious for improvement. This is a more democratic interpretation of leadership, which supports the view we can each be leaders in our own way – we simply need to find a cause that inspires us and to take action to rally others to help achieve our goal. That is the type of leadership to which I aspire.”
2008 – Rebecca Caughey
St Cuthbert’s College Old Girl Rebecca Caughey, 26, was awarded one of six Sir Peter Blake Trust Emerging Leaders Awards at a ceremony held in the Grand Hall at Parliament in 2008. The Emerging Leaders Awards are designed to celebrate young leaders with considerable potential and are awarded alongside The Blake Medal for Leadership, which was won by Sir Murray Halberg in 2008.
Founder of Funktion Music company, manager of Shapeshifter and Ladi6 and promoter for bands including Shihad and ElemenoP, Ms Caughey graduated from St Cuthbert’s College in 1999. Her involvement in the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) and jazz at St Cuthbert’s College motivated her to start Funktion Music at the young age of 19. “I didn’t really know what I was doing, but you just do it online and you’ve got a company,” said Ms Caughey in a Sunday Star Times article.
In an article about her on the Young Enterprise Scheme website, Ms Caughey said: “YES allows you to think outside the square and have a real life business experience!” Her modest beginnings, working at a record label for CDs and movie tickets, and organising jazz gigs for corporate events, has evolved into managing top New Zealand vocalists and bands. When asked about her opinion on leadership, Ms Caughey quotes John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”