Testimonials from participants in the Duke of Edinburgh Commonwealth Study Conferences and its affiliated Conferences, including Emerging Leaders Dialogue Canada, CSCLeaders, and the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conferences.

Nadiya Figueroa

Dean of the Rhodes Scholarships, Director of Leadership and Change
Oxford University

“I could not have anticipated the remarkable impact that the conference would have on me both immediate and ongoing. What struck me about the participants was a shared passion and commitment towards making a contribution and a strong interest in giving back and making a positive difference. Throughout the study tours we increased our understanding of the importance of dynamic leadership and gained insights which are still relevant today. These insights came to us not through a lecture hall setting but by multiple real interactions.”

Claudia D’Orazio

Vice President, Human Resources, Pembina Pipeline Corporation

“I have never attended a leadership conference like this one. It was priceless to witness such hands-on development through intense onsite engagement with managers, executives and employees. I appreciated every minute – even the sleepless nights and exhausting days – and will remember it forever.”

Philip Jennings

General Secretary, UNI Global Union, 2000-2018

“My experience has never left me. I rose to the top of the global trade union movement and tried to instill dialogue, a place for working people in the highest economic councils and understanding your colleagues or adversaries’ point of view in my daily duties. It’s time to give this new Commonwealth generation its chance to change their lives and ours for the better. Let the new generation meet eye to eye and heart to heart. Expose them to the fault-lines in global development, encourage them to engage with one another to consider new solutions for people and planet.”

O’Neil W. Grant

President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association

“The conference has given me  a wider view of the global political economy and how we all fit into it. As a professional Accountant and a Trade Unionist I was able to see how financial analysis and workers’ rights could be blended to shape my approach to dealing with national and regional issues and has placed me on a path to interact with leaders of governments in many countries and with international development partners. I am now the President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, the largest public sector union in Jamaica; a Vice President of the National Trade Union Center, The Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions; and sit on several boards inside and outside of the public sector.”

Leo Gerard

President, United Steelworkers International, 2001-2019

“The Conference is a valued experience for emerging leaders from the labour movement. The networking opportunity is exceptional. The Conference broadens each member’s horizon and creates unique situations where people from totally different backgrounds can put their preconceptions away and exchange ideas in an atmosphere of open debate and discovery.”

Adonis Trujillo

Program Manager, Microsoft

“Participation in the program has strengthened my ability to serve through leadership within the many communities I am affiliated with. The exchange helped me better understand alternative perspectives and see the world through a different lens. Having my own viewpoints challenged, my level of self-awareness increased which helped reinforce my identity as an Indigenous person. I have expanded on my own capacity as a young individual by heightening my competency on the issues pertaining to inclusiveness, diversity, collaboration, sustainability, ethics and good governance. I am enlivened to work toward advancing my community culturally, environmentally and economically. I feel emboldened to navigate the waters of the unknown because of my participation.”

Carrie Blair

Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Allstate Insurance Company

“As a delegate of the 2007 CSC, I never imagined the impact this immersive, experiential leadership conference would have on my career and my life. Today, at a time when we are constantly being reminded of our differences and a focus on extreme perspectives and ‘picking sides’, I can honestly say the CSC fuelled my desire for more open dialogue, finding collaborative solutions and a greater understanding that harnessing differing voices and points of view can result in better outcomes and ultimately finding common ground. This is simply one of the best investments you can make in your leadership development and it lasts a lifetime.”

Paula Amos

Partner at Indigenous Worx

“I attended and participated in the Emerging Leaders Dialogue, which was very engaging and had a very thought provoking element each day from the speakers, delegates and the business tours. I really appreciated the different perspectives, insights and dialogue that were had.  Coming from an Indigenous perspective, the discussions were very empowering, culturally and intellectually stimulating and I felt like delegates were being heard. The space promoted the differing opinions and dialogue in a respectful learning environment.”

Brian Haugen

Director of Education and Engagement, International Union of Operating Engineers

“This program brought together leaders of all levels from government, unions, NGO’s, private industry, and community in a manner that broke down natural and created barriers; we all learned and emerged transformed in some way.”

Hanaa Wong Abdullah

Founder of Rema Synergy, Training & Coaching Consultants, Malaysia

“Attending the 9th CSC in 2003 in Australia and New Zealand opened my eyes to a world where I could see first hand what inclusive leadership looked like. There were delegates from all over the world, from different levels of society, of industry, in government. All were heard. All were regarded. All were respected. I witnessed how everyone could have a view, an opinion, which might be different to mine, but all of us could express ourselves, questions were addressed and after I listened and absorbed, the most beautiful outcome was that I had a new way to question all my thoughts, opinions, perspectives and intentions – to be more open and inclusive. I will always be grateful for this. ”

George Heyman

Minister of Environment, Government of British Columbia

“The Commonwealth Study conference in 1998 was a great experience in camaraderie, communication and learning new perspectives (I’m not sure what came first). Our study group had, as all did, widely divergent backgrounds and beliefs. Rather than bury our differences we explored them – mostly with interest and respect, though sometimes with frustration and exasperation. What I learned through the many conversations was put to great use in my subsequent careers in negotiations, university faculty and lecturing, and politics. The importance of experiences that broaden perspective, understanding, dialogue, and interest-based problem solving and collaboration is more necessary than ever for emerging leaders — as well as those of us entrusted with positions of influence and decision-making.”

P Balaji

Chief Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Officer, Vodaphone Idea Ltd.

“The CSC progam had a big impact on me. It provided me an opportunity to engage with a diverse group of bright, emerging leaders from across the globe in an immersive experience that challenged my own beliefs and perspectives. It eventually helped me develop into a more rounded individual, both personally and professionally, and opened a network of great people across the world that will last a lifetime. I strongly encourage young leaders to invest their time into the CSC conference opportunity.”

Adam Janikowski

Asian Investment Banking, CIBC Capital Markets

“Having spent my entire career within investment banking, attending the leadership conference exposed me to viewpoints and backgrounds that I had never encountered before. Some of my deeply entrenched beliefs were challenged and in certain cases, changed. To truly succeed, both personally and as a country, we need to better understand our diversity and grow from each other. The conference helps provide this opportunity. Not only did I make lifelong friends through my participation in the conference, I gained a network of connections who will listen to my questions, challenge my thinking and make my ideas better. This network includes not only my study group members, but also all of the conference delegates and the high profile speakers at the plenaries. I think I am a better, more connected employee and a stronger Canadian because of my participation.”

Paul Moist

President, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), 2003-2015

“Participating in the 1986 Commonwealth Study Conference in Australia was a life altering experience for me. We did not know what was about to occur with the fall of the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe in 1989.  Nor did we foresee the technological revolution that was about to occur. What we did learn through the conference experience is that while our own views on work and the world were important, so too were those of others who saw things differently than we did. Dialogue amongst labour, business and other key players is something the world needs more of and the Commonwealth Study Conference experience offers a path towards such dialogue which our world badly needs.”

Agnes Di Leonardi C.M.

President, Emerging Leaders’ Dialogues Canada Inc., General Counsel, Sym-Tech Dealer Services

“The 1998 Commonwealth Study Conference hosted in Canada was a career changing experience for me as it really opened my eyes to understanding business, political and societal issues through a variety of lenses.  This experience made me a more effective business lawyer which propelled me to become a senior executive in the automotive industry.  I also developed a deep connection and bond with several of the alumni who became my mentors and sponsors and have continued to remain involved with CSC and was pleased in 2009 to be one of the Founding Directors of Emerging Leaders’ Dialogues Canada.”

Kalondu Muia

Founder and CEO, Kenya Conference Solutions And Director, Association of Emerging Leaders Dialogues

“I am a part of this extraordinary network of change-makers and transformational catalysts, and arguably I am who I am as a person and an African woman in business because of the CSC experience and the genuine and productive networks it has afforded me. As a player in an emerging nation, an open platform where thoughts and opinions are valued and positively challenged is critical to identifying opportunities as well as developing cutting edge solutions to challenges. The CSC has been fantastic for this and even where our narratives and priorities may differ, our aspirations for a better world unite us. Being around this group always leaves me nourished, inspired, and motivated to be an active player in advocacy for positive social and economic change. It’s certainly worth the dime and time, and I am very grateful to continue to be a part of it.”

Scott Tod

Former Deputy Commissioner, Ontario Provincial Police

“Attending a study conference is an incredible opportunity to listen, learn and interact with the leaders, presenters and fellow delegates in both the formal and informal environments allowed for truthful, respectful and diverse dialogue. Together, our group worked on how we can each develop a strong understanding of the ingredients for a thriving community. We learned that experience, collaboration and dedication can be solutions to our leadership challenges at the corporate, government, political and community levels. I learned as much about myself as I did about the fellow delegates. It took six months to really digest everything I experienced and apply it to my personal career and community goals”.