Tomorrow's leaders today - New York

Published: 6 September 2006 at 13:05

Dr Katalin Illes, a senior lecturer in the Ashcroft International Business School at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, was invited to address the Annual Youth Assembly at the United Nations Head Quarters on value based leadership and excellence. The event, held on 16-18 August 2006, brought together 400 delegates and youth leaders from all over world.

Dr Illes joined an international panel focusing on value based leadership. The other members were Dr Elaine Valdov (Secretary General, UN Youth Assembly), René Taylor, former National Youth Commissioner of South Africa, who chaired the session, and the newly elected chairman of the Student Council of North West University in South Africa, De Wet Coetsee. Coetsee shared his experiences as a young leader who faced a challenging leadership task in merging universities and students from diverse ethnic backgrounds in South Africa by using value-based leadership skills such as mutual respect, cooperation and trust.

Dr Katalin Illes works with organisations and individuals internationally to explore complex issues of change, peak performance, trust, creativity, competitive advantage and collaboration. Her research includes the study of trust, leadership and creativity. She has been working with young people of many cultures in the United Kingdom and also in Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, India, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

In her address Dr Illes talked about the importance of focusing on character building, principles and values in education. She gave historic examples and reminded us that the permanent foundation of respect, trust, honesty and self discipline are always present and the same in all cultures.

She said:

"This is the level that we need to find individually and this is the basis that we should use for building meaningful relationships with others. When education is a personal responsibility, when talent is nurtured and passion for self-discovery is encouraged then communities work and grow together in harmony. Consciously connecting to the guiding values and principles that are in the centre of human development in all cultures is critical in the 21st century. Young leaders have the good will, the power and drive to learn from the past and integrate the lessons into a more peaceful and all involving sustainable future. However, they need the support and cooperation of academic, business and political leaders all around the world."

Dr Illes' academic knowledge, practical experience and enthusiasm for supporting young people to find their unique talent and passion for a meaningful life was applauded by young and older leaders alike. 

Amongst the guest speakers at this year's UN Youth Assembly was Mahatma Ghandi's grandson, Dr Arun Ghandi, the recipient of the prestigious Martin Luther King Award.