Following the political upheaval of 2000, several corporate and community leaders met and identified a desperate need to build broadminded and educated leaders across the nation. They knew the importance that the development of leaders is fundamental to a Nation’s wellbeing and to the creation of a society that is economically, socially, and politically successful. Leaders usually come from specific sectors with significant knowledge in that area, but a limited appreciation of the whole social framework of their country. For leaders to be truly successful, they need to have an inclusive approach, with an understanding of Fiji as a nation and how it works.

These corporate and community leaders were introduced to the concept of Leadership Victoria (LV) by Andrew Fairley AM, who had various business interests in Fiji at the time. Founding Leadership Fiji Board Chair, Daryl Tarte and Executive Officer, Sufi Dean were sent to Melbourne to meet with the Leadership Victoria executives and observe a couple of their sessions. No doubt the two immediately saw that the LV model would benefit Fiji and returned with a program already formulated in what our signature Leadership Fiji Program would become in the years that followed.  Leadership Fiji was incorporated on 6th February 2001.

History was set, and with the assistance of LV the first Leadership Fiji program was launched in 2002 with 20 emerging leaders who were “head-hunted” to participate in this inaugural program.  For those of us that followed in the years after as participants of Leadership Fiji now look up to this inaugural program leaders with admiration as our “head girls and head boys” as they paved the way for us to follow.

A few private sector organisations together with the New Zealand High Commission were approached to support Leadership Fiji through funding (in cash and in kind) for the inaugural Leadership Fiji Program, and they so readily gave as they believed in the vision and strength of such a program for Fiji’s future.  Some of these organisations have continued their support and funding of Leadership Fiji to this day and since then we have had a number of new partners and supporters who have come on board. We are forever grateful for their support and believing in our vision to develop and enhance the quality of leaders in Fiji.  As at today, Leadership Fiji has 22 sponsors and partners and they are: ANZ, AVI Pacific People, Bluescope Fiji Limited, Janty Bondwell, British American Tobacco, Bank of South Pacific, BSP Life, Communications Fiji Limited, Credit Corporation, Digicel Fiji, Eco Clean Fiji, Fiji Water Foundation, Holiday Inn, Motibhai Group, Munro Leys, New Zealand High Commission, Quality Print, The Fiji Times, The Greenhouse Studio, Transam, Unwired Fiji and Williams & Gosling.

What does the Leadership Fiji Program entail?

The Leadership Fiji Program is a program of day sessions and retreats in the year from March to November. These sessions are designed to enable participants to discuss and debate issues among themselves and with invited speakers. The content focus of sessions and site visits are issues based and are relevant to the current environment. These include exploring leadership, historical overview of Fiji, examining major industries and sectors such as Media, Tourism, Sugar, Agriculture, Human Rights, Law and Order, Social and Economic issues such as the Environment, Economy and Infrastructure, Poverty and Social Welfare, Health and Education.

At the beginning of each year’s program participants are required to define a vision that they want Fiji to look like in 10 years’ time.  All their activities, events and community engagements are aligned to this vision throughout their year as participants.  As a conclusion to the year’s activities, they are required to draft and present a plan in line with their vision for Fiji and strategies aimed at achieving that vision in their years beyond the program.

Leadership Fiji’s philosophy is known to all of us who have gone through as participants of the program; that ANYONE can lead, and along with that, we understand that leadership is ACTION not a position.

Acknowledging our Founders

We recognise and acknowledge the founders of Leadership Fiji who had the foresight, vision and courage to set up such a purposeful organisation for our beloved Fiji. It is worth mentioning their names in this first part series in recognition of their courage; Andrew Fairley AM, William Parkinson (current Board Chair), Daryl Tarte (founding Board Chair), Simon Swanson, Winston Thomson, Dr. Wame Baravilala, Shazran Lateef, Gina Houng Lee, Nur Bano Ali, Atma Maharaj and Sufi Dean (founding Executive Officer).

About Andrew Fairley AM

Andrew Fairley, LLB (Melb) Hon Doc (Deakin) is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Fairley Foundation.

Andrew Fairley practises as a Commercial Lawyer at Hall & Wilcox in Melbourne.  He has a long involvement with the philanthropic sector and has been Chair of the Fairley Foundation since 1999.  He is a great-nephew of Sir Andrew Fairley.

He is also Chair of the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education, and Deputy Chair of the Mornington Peninsula Foundation.

He is a recognised leader in the financial services sector, Chairing Equip Super and Catholic Super with combined assets of $27b.  He is a Director of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, and a Director of Qualitas Securities Pty Ltd.  He follows in the long tradition of his family in the fruit industry and owns and operates a cherry farm in the Yarra Valley.



Next week we will hear from one of our inaugural program participants on her reflections of Leadership Fiji and how it has transformed her, to the leader she is today.


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