The College promotes a large range of academic, cultural, social, spiritual and sporting activities as well as community projects to give each resident an opportunity for personal growth.
The College promotes a large range of academic, cultural, social, spiritual and sporting activities as well as community projects to give each resident an opportunity for personal growth.
On Wednesday 12 June 2019, Warrane College welcomed old boy Christopher Pidcock for their formal dinner. These days he is a cellist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. “Being part of the Sydney Symphony is a pretty amazing thing; each week we encounter some of the best conductors… to sort of just grace us with their knowledge and wisdom and idea of an orchestral sound. And we sort of go along with it and really hope that they inspire us, because if we’re inspired we inspire our audience,” he said. Pidcock was happy to be back at his old college, and shared with the young men how things had changed and also how they hadn’t, which made him feel quite at home. He played a number of pieces for them on a very special cello, which he told the young men about. “This cello was actually made in Bologna in 1710,” he said. “It’s honestly one of the most extraordinary instruments I’ve ever played and it brings me great joy… it’s been played for 300 years by top professionals. You just encompass the lives and the careers of all these people who’ve played it and it’s suddenly given to you in this instrument! You’re just given so much confidence when you play an instrument like this!” When asked about how a great cello is made, Pidcock explained: “Look at this cello… the back is bloated coming out… it’s got quite a round body. Now these are built on flat surfaces so these are plateaued into this shape over 300 years, so cutting the wood in a way that allows it to plateau like that. And why would you want it to plateau? Because that roundness is what gives it that crunchy, brilliant sound that projects. If it’s flat, when the different sound frequencies hit it, it probably sizzles more on the front but doesn’t necessarily penetrate to the back of the cathedral… the best quality maple and poplar were used by the makers… And the maintenance is just don’t bump it, look after it, keep well aware of the humidity levels.” Pidcock has already enjoyed a vibrant career that includes playing at the 2008 International Cello Congress in Israel, first prize in the 2007 Gisborne International Music Competition in NZ, and European tours with the Australian Youth Orchestra and Sydney Conservatorium Chamber Orchestra. Currently, he is doing a doctoral thesis which looks at ways to reinvigorate performances of Beethoven’s music. “I guess conducting or composing more is maybe the next stage for me because you do have a lot of influence in those positions,” said Pidcock to the young men of the college. “Because if you can generate an incredible sound from an orchestra, that’s hopefully going to have a big impact on the people that go to the concert that week.” He went on, “And that’s the whole point of music really, to enrich people’s lives and bring them closer to God; and bring them closer to seeing the great mathematics in music… Music obviously has an ability to bring us peace and comfort us, but it has many more capabilities as well, and we shouldn’t ever basket what we think music is meant for in our lives.”
On 24 April 2019, former NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney AO APM attended the Wednesday night formal dinner at Warrane. He held the role of Police Commissioner from 2002 to 2007 and was in the police force for a remarkable 42 years. He has been frequently commended and awarded for his outstanding leadership abilities, and it’s no wonder considering that his experience includes the Thredbo landslide disaster in 1997 amongst others. Since retirement, he has still been busy – working with state and federal agencies, charities, the NSW Ombudsman; and currently some civil work with a diocese in country NSW. Moroney started off by explaining to the young men of the college his reasons for retiring. “I said publically it was time to retire in 2007. The real truth was that my late wife Beverley had developed cervical cancer… she had followed me and raised my three boys for 48 years, supported me throughout my career and unhesitatingly I knew that this my chance to repay her for all of the support she had provided me, and equally, our family. I sincerely hope that at that point in time, when some of you choose a spouse, that you are blessed in having a spouse that is supportive of you in every way possible.” “So, in 2007 as Beverley’s cancer started to develop, it was time for me to leave the NSW Police Force… it was a decision that I believed in those circumstances was the right one. Just prior to her passing away, some four years ago next week, a dear friend who is a parish priest… came and gave Bev the last rights of the Catholic Church. Later, I said to her, ‘Are you frightened?’ Because she knew the end was near. And it was her stoic and calm response that was typical of her, and really has sustained the three boys and myself over this time. And she simply said, ‘No, I’m not frightened, because I think I know where I’m going’ … and what she was saying really was that she had an inner faith that sustained her throughout her life, but also particularly at that part of it… a moment that will come to all of us.” Faith in what you’re doing Speaking of faith, Moroney really tried to instil in the young men the importance of believing in themselves. One instance in which he had to do that was when choosing his career path – in his typical Irish family, there was an expectation that as the eldest child in the family, he would go on to become a priest or join a religious Order. And yet after two and a half years in the seminary, he realised it wasn’t his calling (much to his mother’s dismay) and went on to join the NSW Police Force of almost 20. “It sounds corny, but I thought as a police officer I could make a difference. I thought I could add value to the organisation as I then understood it. And really, at 19 plus years of age, I realised how little I knew of life. In hindsight, I knew nothing.” The first station Moroney worked at was in the western suburbs of Sydney, followed by 20 years in country NSW where his sole ambition was to be a Sergeant-in-Charge. He was happy to eventually realise this dream but then was called back to Sydney by the then Commissioner of Police, Mr John Avery – a man of great faith and conviction. In 1991 he was appointed as the Chief of Staff, before going on to become Commissioner in 2002. He commented, “I reflected at that time on the words of the then-Chief Instructor of the Police Academy in 1965… who told me I wouldn’t amount to anything… Well I don’t know where he is today, but I know what I was able to achieve…what I want to keep coming back to is having faith, have dreams, but above all else believe in yourself.” Even when recounting experiences such as working in the aftermath of the Thredbo landslide, Moroney kept the emphasis on having faith and self-belief despite the challenging circumstances around you. “What is important in all of that though, is that you have a belief in yourself… a belief in what you’re doing… and the belief comes in a large extent from yourself. Faith in what you’re doing, faith in your profession, and equally more often than not, a religious faith…” he said. Some words on communication and mentorship Moroney went on to tell the young men about some professional situations he had encountered where communication played a key part. “It’s very important to be able to communicate,” he said. “Speak to people the way you want to be spoken to yourself. If you want to be communicated with effectively, then communicate effectively with other people with patience and tolerance and understanding.” He went on, “There is importance in communication – effective communication, meaningful communication. There is importance in your faith. There is importance in the belief that you have in yourself as young professional people. This may not all be clear to you at the moment, but if you’re able to record this in your mind for the future, these words will come ringing back to you.” Moroney finished by stressing the importance of mentorship. “Above all else… we all need an ability to have a mentor, a friend. He or she may be a professional friend, or a family friend. Might be your parents; a relative; a brother; a cousin. It might be somebody within your environment. There is great relief to be had being able to talk honestly, openly and frankly with whoever it is you choose to be your mentor… there is no issue or problem that you face that someone, more often than not, hasn’t faced before. So you have to be able to communicate with people for your own mental health benefit.” “If there is one final message that I would leave you with it is the importance on ongoing education in your chosen profession. Continuous learning makes us who we are and who we aspire to be”.
On Wednesday 17 April 2019, the young men of Warrane College heard from Louise Waterhouse at their weekly formal dinner. Waterhouse, the Hon Consul for the Kingdom of Tonga, shared her love and passion for the island nation, and explained a bit about her role. And with around 25 Warrane men soon headed to Tonga for community service work, she thought it a good opportunity to enthuse them. “I want to inspire you… about how it is possible sometimes to change the world, even just a little bit… At the end of the day, whatever you achieve is worthwhile.” The role of an honorary consul “So you may ask, what does an honorary consul do?” she asked. “Well first, it’s exactly that, an honorary and unpaid role that requires significant funding... we’re regarded as our own hands-on charity. It’s our way of doing something for the community that we feel very good about, and it’s our way of giving something back.” Waterhouse went on: “It does take up a lot of my time, and my husband often jokes to his friends, ‘My hobby is golf, and Louise is looking after the Kingdom of Tonga!’ I don’t have a job description, but I see it as my privilege to be able to do whatever I can. I’m in a position here where I can do what I can, perhaps open doors… with my role, I can make a difference… to argue the case for Tonga.” Waterhouse explained that her day-to-day might involve sourcing donations, medical equipment, and supplies for Tonga, issuing people with emergency passports to get back home, and looking after royal and government visitors. A little on Tonga Waterhouse told the young men that Captain Cook had a soft spot for Tonga, giving it the nickname ‘the friendly islands’ and visiting on each of his three voyages. “I always like to say that Tonga is for travellers, not for tourists,” she said. “What you see is what you get - you get a genuine experience, you get an experience where the people really love to see you… That’s what I find so endearing about Tonga.” Made up of 173 islands, Waterhouse told the young men about the wonderful resources of fish and minerals; and of some pristine islands which remain untouched. She spoke of how its climate is similar to Hawaii, and how it is home to abundant sea life, underwater caves, ship wrecks, and surf to challenge the keenest surfers. But Waterhouse assured the boys that Tonga’s crowning glory might just be its whales, since it was the only place in the world you can swim within five metres of majestic sea animals – with a guide of course. She told the young men how church is a very important part of life there: “And if you go to church you’ll get the best singing you’ve ever heard.” She told them how Tonga had the greatest uptake of religion in all the Pacific islands because missionaries converted the king first and the people followed. “There’s an interesting story about Tonga being the only indigenous country in the Pacific to escape the fate of being settled and lose control of its land through colonisation,” said Waterhouse to the young men. “So unlike many developing countries, they’re actually happy to see you... They’re not resentful… When the Westerners came, they came to share knowledge.” In conclusion It was no secret that Waterhouse has a great love for the Kingdom of Tonga. She told the boys that it has one of the highest rates per capita of doctorates, because the people see education as such an important part of their lives. And it also has the highest number of sporting stars per capita in the world. “Why?” she asked. “It’s about the people… like Warrane College… about the strength that you get from working together, having values, and helping each other.” She described the people’s passion and pride for their country. “I always think Tonga punches above its weight… for a small island, we all seem to know about it!” As for her role and what it can teach the young men, she said the following: “Yes, we can move mountains; yes, we can do something very special if we keep on with generosity of spirit… I think the message I’d love to leave you with today is the old adage: it’s been said time and time again but really comes home true to me, and that is: ‘Ask not what those around you can do for you, but rather what you can do for others,’ because it will reward you time and time again.”
On Wednesday 3 April 2019, Warrane College’s own Master, Professor Gerald Fogarty, took the floor as the formal dinner guest for the week. Director of Radiation Oncology at the St Vincent’s Clinic and St Vincent’s General Hospital, he is also on staff at the Mater Hospital, Melanoma Institute of Australia and the Skin & Cancer Foundation Australia in Sydney. Fogarty trained at Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, Australia’s largest cancer centre, and is a recognised authority in the radiation treatment of skin cancer, with a PhD in modern radiation treatments of skin cancer and over 100 publications to his name. His passion for radiotherapy was clear as he spent some time talking to the young men about his work, and explaining to them its benefits versus surgery. He described how surgeons cutting out cancer take out good tissue along with the bad, whilst radiotherapy can target an area and if done properly, the good tissue can repair overnight while the cancerous tissue cannot. He went on to speak a bit about failure, some concerns he has about the medical profession, and other bits of general advice. Failure and setbacks “Oftentimes we do face failure - I’ve faced failure in life, but it’s amazing how good things can come from failure,” said Fogarty to the boys. He told them about obstacles he came up against in his journey to medicine – such as missing out on the cut-off to get in by one mark, working super hard but still failing exams, and not getting into the physician training he initially wanted. While these things seemed so terrible at the time, they eventually led him to discovering his passion: radiation oncology. Another difficult moment in Fogarty’s career came just as he was about to start radiation oncology training. At this point, Opus Dei (of which he is a member), asked him to be the Dean of Warrane College. It was a big decision but he thought it was the right one, even considering the career sacrifice that it meant for him. What started off as a two-year role became 12 years before he continued his training. “But I learnt a lot about people management, and learnt a lot about myself,” he told the boys. “I spent 12 years out of medicine… but ended up getting into the best program for radiation oncology in Australia.” Fighting the culture of death While Fogarty loves his work, he did talk to the boys about the concerns he had for the current state of medicine. “I’m part of an industry that is implicated in the culture of death; that really concerns me,” he said, referring to the existence of things such as abortion and assisted suicide. “People go into medicine to heal people, in order to alleviate suffering; we don’t do it to kill people. And we’re asked by the community to kill people…” He went on: “There have been many times in my life where I’ve been asked to do a termination of pregnancy and I’ve refused, and my comeback to them is ‘Convince me mate, convince me; that a human being does not die in termination of pregnancy. Convince me and I’ll do it.’ They never have an answer for that… Medicine has been completely perverted to be able to serve big business and money … it’s all about the money. And euthanasia is coming very soon... If people want to kill themselves, fine – but why do we have to do it?” Other pieces of advice Fogarty finished off with some more general life advice for the boys. “I learnt very early on in life… you’ve only got one chance to stuff a first impression,” he said, something particularly important for him as a doctor dealing with patients. “In that moment, you are establishing rapport and trust.” “Dress well,” he went on, telling the boys how his colleagues always wonder why he bothers with a suit and tie in a modern world where it’s acceptable to dress down. “When I get asked why I wear a suit and tie, I say it’s because I care about the patients!” Fogarty went on, “It’s always good to live honesty… if you’re honest all the time, people will trust you. And if you have failures, say it straight, don’t try to cover it up.” He also spoke about gratitude – “When people thank us for what we do, you just feel like giving them more! It’s an amazing thing” – as well as the importance of preparing well, taking initiative, reflecting on the big picture, and maintaining connections such as those made at college. He encouraged the boys to help people in their need, and to be happy for them if others do well rather than getting resentful.
On 27 March 2019, Emeritus Professor Ian Sloan AO was the Wednesday night guest at Warrane College. He spoke to the boys about the rich heritage of the Royal Society of New South Wales, of which he is the President. The society is the oldest learned society in the Southern Hemisphere, with the purpose of advancing knowledge through the encouragement of studies and investigations in Science, Art, Literature and Philosophy. “The Royal Society of NSW dates back to the colony, which is 1821… It was started by some people trying to escape the realities of the prison colony I suppose, and really trying to introduce some intellectual activity,” he explained. While the same society in London focuses on just science, the NSW society looks at science together with art, literature and philosophy. “A 19th century formulation of all of knowledge,” said Sloan. Sloan spoke to the boys on some lessons he had learned from his career – lessons which he felt also applied in life. Try and keep moving Sloan started out in physics, is currently a mathematician, but is dabbling once more in physics, as he told the boys. “But I am in fact an active mathematician,” he said. “I’m publishing; I’m working like a dog… There seems to be the idea that mathematicians burn out very young… well I didn’t come into mathematics until I was over 40!” He explained that perhaps the mathematicians who burn out young are the ones that don’t move, so to speak – those who try and dig deeper into what they’re doing rather than try anything new. “So what is the secret of being able to survive? Not only in mathematics but in life in some sense? Don’t stay in the same place; don’t keep doing the same thing over and over; try and keep moving. For me, it is finding new things – new things to do… I find you can move easily enough.” Collaborate “Mathematics as a whole is becoming much more fun. Because it is much more collaborative now,” said Sloan. Here, his tip was about working with others: and so sharing what you know, and learning from them. “So one secret is to have many collaborators…it means that you have to work with a lot of people,” he said to the boys. “Collaborators – and I think there’s a lesson in life here too – good collaborators teach you things you didn’t know before, they will take you into new areas… you couldn’t do it on your own, because each of you has special skills, special attributes.” Be courageous Another piece of counsel Sloan had for the boys was to be daring. “Be brave! That’s very important advice in research, and in life! Don’t be afraid to fail… keep moving, keep learning. .. I mentioned why I think people get stuck, they might keep learning but in a very narrow range… The whole of life from the moment you’re born to the moment of death is a process of learning… I recommend it as a way to stay young, as a way to stay active,” he said.
On Wednesday 6 March 2019, Warrane College welcomed former resident Dallas Watts to be their formal dinner guest. Watts, who lived at Warrane in 1978-79, is now both a singer and educator. His repertoire includes over 350 performances, 36 operas with Opera Australia, a win at Tropfest, 17 large-scale theatre productions and singing backing vocals on the official CD of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. In 2013, Dallas was invited to be the first Lecturer in Voice at UNSW, where he currently teaches, as well as running a busy studio in the CBD. But even with all this to his name, Watts started by saying that being at Warrane was his biggest honour to date. “Warrane College changed my life. I was here 41 years ago… It’s the launching pad for great professional and personal lives… I am quite sincere to say that this is the deepest honour of my life. Why have I travelled 2.5 hours to get here? You are more important than I am, and I say that with all sincerity.” He continued, “I want to say to you tonight that people – relationships - are more important than achievements. And I definitely wouldn’t have said that when I was your age, so that’s my opening statement.” Watts’ experience of Warrane Watts had fond memories of his college days, as he shared with the boys. In particular, he shared the impact of certain people who helped him along the way. “I want to dedicate this speech to a man who changed my life many years ago,” said Watts to the boys. “Seamus Grimes was a very unassuming man; he was a tutor on Level 2, and his personal sacrifice to…come serve the students at Warrane College changed my life forever. He was very funny and had a wicked sense of humour. He took me as a struggling student who didn’t do well in school, and made me an academic star in one year…” “Seamus Grimes was a lay member of Opus Dei… he was a team player and a hard worker… He was interested in developing people…. and taught me how to use time wisely and how to memorise factual detail; more importantly to analyse…. I would never have achieved what I achieved in my life without him…” “I realised that great achievements come from great relationships. For a student to achieve success in something, someone has to believe in them first. A mentor needs to believe or trust in their student, in order for that student to succeed. For people to be successful in their professional lives, all they need is one person - the right person in the right position - to believe in, foster, or indeed trust their talent… Basically you only really need one person to believe in you, as Seamus did with me, to make you successful, and that is a huge thing.” He went on, “Our famous deputy master, Dave Bolton, also changed my life… he was all about passion… as are all the tutors here… don’t take them for granted like I did! What Dave Bolton said to me and to others…is true: once you find your passion and what you love, you don’t have to work again. This is really important. I suppose what I’m here to say to you tonight is, what will your opus or your work be?” “The thing that sets Warrane above other colleges… is that it really does stand for excellence; that you really should do your best, and second best is not an option… If you’re here, you’re here for a reason. I almost didn’t get in and I’m so thankful I did.” On conflict, suffering and growth “I want to talk about conflict, suffering and growth,” Watts went on. “You can’t grow in your life unless you suffer in a sense, and are involved in conflict in your personal life. This is very important – don’t run away from conflict.” Watts recounted a moment he had over coffee with Australian film director Peter Weir. Weir told Watts that to have creativity you must experience conflict, explaining how he based the school life in one of his most iconic movies, Dead Poets Society, on a repressive school that he had attended as a student. “The great paradox of me being here today is that I never got what I wanted… never got to be a superstar opera singer even though I really believe I deserved it… that sounds terribly vain! But I got much more, you see… I think that with God and the Christian life, the more you give up, the more you receive… “When I was at Warrane, I didn’t expect to pass university. I didn’t expect to get a distinction average, I didn’t expect to get into law. I didn’t expect to get a teaching scholarship and I didn’t expect to get honours in history and political science… It’s a silly list of achievements in a sense… yes, I have directed Dead Poets Society; yes, I have won a Tropfest competition; yes, I have sung in over 350 performances. But why, what does it all mean? Well it’s about relationships and the greater good.” Watts finished up in style by singing for the boys.
On Wednesday 20 March 2019, Patrick Farmer AM joined the young men of Warrane College for their formal dinner. An ultra-marathon athlete, he holds multiple world records for endurance running but is probably best known for being the only man who has run continuously from the North Pole to the South Pole. During his 30-year running career, he has raised millions of dollars for different causes including Lifeline, Cancer Council, Australian Red Cross and Diabetes Australia. Farmer also served eight years as a Member of Australia’s Parliament, and has been awarded titles such as ‘Achiever of the Year’ (2000) awarded by Prime Minister John Howard, and National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year (2012). These days he is also a motivational speaker. Despite all that, he told the boys, “I still don’t really know who I am; I’m still trying to figure out what I’ll be when I grow up. And I mean that sincerely because I look around this audience here… you probably see an old man that’s probably not dressed so well, got a lot of grey hair, you can see the weather in my face, and… I don’t see that. All I see is from my eyes outwards.” “And because I don’t spend a lot of time looking in a mirror back at myself, I see myself in this moment in time, as the same person that I was when I was 17 years old. And I think not enough of us…spend enough time actually looking out from the inside, instead of worrying about how I’m dressed, how I look, how’s my hair, am I getting old… am I this, am I that or whatever? But if you look from the inside out, all you see is what life has to offer.” A little old man ran past, and the rest is history Farmer told the boys how he left school at age 14. It wasn’t something he’s proud of, but he didn’t have a choice as his parents just couldn’t afford to send him. And so he became a motor mechanic, but somehow this led him to his path – because one day at work, some marathon runners ran past. One of these was a 60-something year old man, and suddenly Farmer was inspired. “As was mentioned earlier on, I’ve done all sorts of things,” said Farmer. “I hold records for racing across the Simpson Desert in the hottest time of the year… I’m still the fastest man on earth to run across the Simpson Desert … I’ve raced up and down Sydney Centrepoint Tower…” “Do you know why I’ve done all this stuff?... because one little old man ran past where I worked… and that action, not his words, ignited a fire within my soul… and got me to do something with my life… And somehow, someway, because I became one of the best in my field at what I did, I bubbled to the top. And that opened up doorways for me in politics and learning and other ways.” Seizing opportunities and taking a crack at it While Farmer got into running somewhat randomly, he became the best. As he told the boys, he was keen to use his talent for the good; to help others when possible. This was what got him into raising money through his running, and eventually into politics as well. “I have a simple philosophy,” he said to the young men. “When opportunities come along we either take them or we live with regret. So with that in mind I thought: what have I got to lose? I’ll give it a shot. If it’s meant to be I’ll get elected and I’ll help people … and if it’s not meant to be at least I tried. And I won!… I turned what was considered a Labor seat into a Liberal seat…” Farmer went on, “It doesn’t matter if I win or I lose… what matters is I can look at myself in the mirror and say, I did my best… it’s about standing up to the plate, saying I’m going to have a crack at this.” “The message I’m trying to get to you… is you take on enormous tasks, you break them down in bite-size pieces and it’s amazing what you can achieve if you simply never give up on yourself. You simply put one foot in front of the other, and you push on and on until the job’s done. With that same philosophy I’ve gone about everything my whole life.” Nothing worthwhile is easy “I have this saying,” said Farmer. “Nothing worthwhile in this life is ever easy. And it is so true… You know the most worthwhile thing on this planet, is for a woman to be able to bring a child into this world. For a woman to bear a child, to carry a child, for nine months; to share the same body with another human being. And then to go through the pain and the difficulties and the agony to be able to help that child to breathe for the first time. And yet we see our mothers and women so often backing up to do this a second time, a third time or what have you. And they forget about the pain of the moment and they realise the success of the moment, and that is, bringing the greatest gift to this world and that is the gift of life. I mention that because often you have to go through pain, you have to go through difficulty to achieve anything worthwhile.” “If you want to do something – if you want to do literally anything with all your heart, you can and you will find a way. If you don’t truly want to do it, you’ll simply find an excuse. My message, my purpose of being here tonight, is to say to you – figure out what it is that you truly want with all your heart, and remember, no excuses.”
On Wednesday 20 February 2019, Peter Warne, Chairman of Macquarie Group, joined the young men of Warrane College at their weekly formal dinner. With extensive knowledge and experience in financial services and investment banking, he’s held a number of senior roles including being a Director of ASX Limited since 2006. Warne opened up the floor to a Q&A style session and answered questions to do with regulation, dealing with financial difficulties in the industry and more. But he also spoke on topics that could resonate with any student about to embark on their career. On staying motivated all semester and beyond “I’m offering these pearls of wisdom, if that’s what they are, from the tail end of my career, while you’re all starting out at the beginning of your careers,” Warne said. “But at the back end of my career, if I remember some of the most vivid memories, some of those would be my time at university. You have got a wonderful opportunity. My strong advice would be to seize that opportunity with both hands and work hard, but make sure you enjoy it, and take as much advantage of the experiences that you’re going to be presented with over the coming years. They will stick with you forever, and so don’t let that opportunity slip past…” He continued: “In terms of career advice… you are going to have a new career every 2-5 years… I would counsel you to position yourselves and your studies to provide you with the maximum optionality going forward. To study things you enjoy; you find interesting. You’re more likely to do well at those things, you’ll learn more. And I’ll say something that will probably horrify some of the staff and some of you - most of the course material that you learn at university, in the final event’s probably not going to help you that much. What you will learn at university that will really help you, is that you’ll learn how to learn, and that is the most critical thing.” Warne explained to the boys that when it came to hiring graduates, they’d spend the first six months teaching them: in the end they were hiring people who could learn, which is a critical quality in the workplace. On being asked his most memorable mistake in his professional career “You try and shut out the real bad ones,” laughed Warne at this question. “Well, I have made plenty. Probably people mistakes… Where you’ve invested in someone who on paper looked really good but you had a gut feeling that they weren’t as good as they seemed or pretended to be, and you’ve found out later that you should have listened to your gut rather than listening to the ‘marketing’… I think there would be a portfolio of mistakes where I should have known that… I find people mistakes are the ones you really regret. To invest in someone and have them let you down is very disappointing… That really takes a toll on you, especially when you get more senior in organisations, and managing people and investing in people is the core of what you do; to make that mistake really hits home.” On being a balanced employee When asked whether employers actually care about volunteering appearing on a resume, Warne had the following to say. “I’d say when we’re hiring graduates, what we’re really looking for is a balanced individual. We don’t want someone who has just studied 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and has no other life. Volunteering versus some other activity, that doesn’t matter so much… it’s really about demonstrating balance in your life; that you are capable of a whole range of things… They still had to prove that they had the ability to learn and had achieved, but it wasn’t everything… So I think it’s that broader issue of what else have you done with your life, to demonstrate that you are capable of doing a whole range of things?... We’re still learning that the ‘soft skills’ like teamwork, ability to present in public… those sorts of things, are just as important.” On how leadership style has changed in the industry over his career “I think it [leadership] has [changed] in all businesses – far less command and control…and to a large extent they were unaccountable in lots of ways,” explained Warne to the boys. “Now…the opinion of the staff, of the team, external stakeholders…community standards and expectations, politicians and regulators, customers, staff – all of those things have a lot more input into the way organisations are run. And we have to take account of what they think, and I think that’s a plus. The world is a better place doing that, but it’s certainly a very different organisation… from the way things were.”
Tips for personal resilience with a former Marine Commando On Wednesday 27 February, Warrane College invited former UK Royal Marine Commando Scott Howe to be their formal dinner guest. A member of the Commando Forces for 18 years, he is now the Director of Asque, a leadership and team building consultancy which equips companies to outperform their competitors and achieve the extraordinary. Howe came to talk to the boys about personal resilience, and started by asking what the term meant to them. He was answered with “the ability to come back after a failure.” “I came up with four, and I will read them,” responded Howe. “The ability to carry on when things are bad or not going the way you planned; the ability to focus on solutions when panic sets in; the ability to receive negative commentary, not let that affect you, and learn from it; and the ability to bounce back after a defeat.” Using stories and anecdotes from his own life, Howe wanted to bring the practice of personal resilience to life for the boys. Carry on when things aren’t going well Howe explained to the boys that he was a very inquisitive child, and would get bored quickly. At the age of four, he prodded his sister while she crocheted, mostly for something to do. In response, he got a needle to the back – something, he later realised, that gave him a phobia of needles. Fast forward to being in the Corps, and Howe had no choice but to get necessary vaccinations, shoulder to shoulder with everyone else. Every instance of this required him to use all of his resilience. Focus on solutions when panic sets in An incident when he was a child started him down a path of using physical means to deal with problematic people – starting with punching a kid that was giving him trouble at age six. He thought this was the way to get the results he wanted. “But that isn’t what actually happens,” he told the boys. “What happens is, when you start doing that, you start setting a chain of events. The events are that you consistently have to look over your shoulder… Your resilience to words is really, really straightforward… In bullying, resilience is about piecing together some course of action that isn’t going to be resorting to violence. The power of words is very strong. The power of actions is weak.” Bounce back after a defeat Howe told the boys about how as a kid, academics was not his thing, but sport was. “I could do sport, and I could do it really well. So you have state representation here, back home it’s ‘county’. So I was county at cricket…squash…tennis… So I thought at the end of school, what I’ll be is a professional athlete.” The problem came when at college, and specialists advised him that his knees were done – their cartilage was breaking down and they couldn’t be repaired. But, looking for more answers, he saw a GP who advised him to do squats to strengthen his knees, and squats he did! Whether this doctor was right or not, Howe felt he had given him another opportunity, and he ended up doing plenty which required strong knees down the line. “It’s about overcoming moments of adversity…it’s about your own internal resilience,” he said to the boys, explaining that they should have a holistic approach to life as both their physical and mental capacities are needed to bounce back. Receive negative commentary, not let that affect you, and learn from it Howe talked to the boys about having the resilience to see past the fear and back themselves in any situation life might throw their way. Coming out of his military career was another tough situation, since assimilating into the rest of the world was hard to do. “There’s this cycle of negative commentary about what skills and attributes former military people can bring to the civilian workplace that you have to break, and it’s really hard,” he said to the Warrane boys. And that’s why he now works for a mentoring group, one like 3600 others in Australia which exist to help veterans. “The work I do now – I go into big organisations… because they don’t know what’s going wrong – costs are going up; revenue is going down… I have to go in there and investigate. More often than not, it’s happening because they haven’t got leaders in positions of leadership. They have managers… making sure processes are being followed, but nobody who can inspire, enthuse and motivate other humans… with skills of character, skills of resilience, skills of making other people feel safe.” To finish off, Howe was asked about resilience in everyday life – about getting through the seemingly little and mundane things of the day or week. “It’s about personal leadership, and your impact on other humans. If you not getting out of bed is going to have a negative impact on your team, environment, yourself, well that’s a bad thing, you need to recognise that. It’s takes a bit of self-discipline…” “If you recognise the impact you have as an individual in the grand scheme of things, there is always a reason to get out of bed… See the big picture. Recognise that there’s a bigger part to what’s happening.”
Career advice from Brendon Cook, CEO of oOh! Media
He was ADMA Marketer of the Year in 2016, and is the International Vice President of global Out Of Home industry body FEPE (the Federation European Publicite Exterieur). And on Wednesday 28 March 2018, he was Warrane College’s welcomed guest at their formal dinner - Brendon Cook, CEO of oOh! Media.
A leading operator in Australia and New Zealand’s fast-growing Out Of Home advertising industry, oOh! Media works to create engagement between people and brands through location-based media solutions. As Cook explained to the boys, media and advertising is very much a business that is about leading thinking.
Cook grew up in Sydney’s western suburbs and attended Marist Brothers. He didn’t put too much into his school studies but rather learnt on the job following school, and started his own business at age 28 – because of a recession, and with just $6,000 in his pocket.
Cook founded oOh! in 1989 and transformed it from a traditional Out Of Home advertising business into a new data-driven, audience-led digital media company with content and publishing capabilities. These days it’s a Top 200 ASX company, with shareholders from around the world including; Silicon Valley, New York, London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Australia/NZ.
He went on to share the following pieces of wisdom.
Ideals to uphold in business
“Many of you will become leaders in your community,” said Cook. “The most important thing is you must remain humble, you must remain respectful of everyone around you. Because if you look at any great leader around the world, you’ll find that’s the core... Egotism is a big fallback.... It’s one thing to be confident; it’s another thing to be egotistical as you move through life.”
He continued: “So our business runs on some pretty basic values. Respect is key: respect for all teammates, respect for people you’re dealing with, respect for suppliers and respect for customers. Teamwork: working with people; really understanding how to work with people. We’re all different and it’s the beauty of our business – it’s a living organism. You don’t want everybody to be the same. If everyone’s the same you get narrower thinking... And fun: enjoying everyone’s company...at oOh! we feel like a family.”
Adding value to society
Cook explained the importance of a business having more than financial reasons for operating. “We’re a commercial business; our job is to sell space, it’s what we do for a living, we make money, try to help people sell stuff to you guys... But within that you can ensure that you’re adding value to society in more than just financial rewards... For us the best way we can do community purpose is we were the first Out Of Home Company globally, to employ a full-time community manager. We actively go out and seek causes to support... We as a business get right behind that charity... our staff can take time off to support charities... I think any business that doesn’t have a strong social conscience will fail ultimately.”
Keeping the future in mind
Cook also told the boys a couple of ways in which he has learnt to look towards the future in his business dealings. The first? Working on machine learning. “Why? Because machine learning will provide process and efficiency, to give humans the time to do the things that humans do well – to create and thinking. And that’s really what we’re trying to move to.”
Another thing he suggested the boys think about was disruption. “So as a business person, the challenge we have today is how we think about disruption,” said Cook. “As a leader, my job is to think about disruption. How can this business be disruptive? And start to take action years and years in advance of that disruption to give you some chance of surviving. Because whichever way we look at it, on average, most big businesses today have about a 15-year lifespan. Will Facebook look like Facebook in 15 years? Will Google look like Google in 15 years? Unlikely. There will be something else happening. So the one thing I’d suggest to you in whatever career you’re in – start to say to yourself, what am I really learning... and what could disrupt it?”
(Photographs from the evening are available here)
Why don’t we argue anymore? With Dr Renée Köhler Ryan, Dean of Philosophy and Theology at Notre Dame Uni
On Wednesday 8 August 2018, it was the Dean of the School of Philosophy and Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia who came to talk to the young men of Warrane College. Dr Renée Köhler-Ryan, also a professor lecturing on topics such as Philosophy of the Human Person,Political Philosophy, and more, spoke about the importance of disagreement.
“So as you’ve heard, I’m a philosopher. And philosophers really like arguments,” she began. “But what I’m finding increasingly difficult when teaching philosophy is that people don’t like to argue that much anymore... so I thought it might be worthwhile to talk about what it means to have a reasonable disagreement, given that we’re living in an age right now where most people want to get away from disagreements.”
Köhler-Ryan went on: “We have trigger warnings... Before you present any material that anyone in any way might be offended by, you warn them beforehand. And that is becoming increasingly difficult for academics who are really charged with the task of bringing up things that should get a response; a reaction.”
“Being human is actually a fairly difficult thing to be, so if in university you’re not faced with all of the problems and the difficulties of what it means to be human, then it becomes increasingly difficult as you go on in life. So what I’m starting to be more and more concerned about – when I look in the media, when I look in my classrooms, everything else – is that people are so willing to be offended that everyone else is worried about saying anything…that they might really genuinely believe in and want to bring up, because they’re afraid that they’ll offend other people.”
Köhler-Ryan told the boys what Eric Voegelin commented regarding Nietzsche’s work: “People have lost interest. They don’t have any fight in them anymore, they don’t have any gumption in them anymore, so they’re not willing to put themselves on the line and to get into it, to really figure out what life is about. They’re satisfied just to sit back, relax and try to enjoy. To me when I read that, it sounds very, very familiar.”
The rules for disagreement + possible outcomes
Köhler-Ryan went on to explain the rules of disagreement to the boys. “First of all you need to have a starting position… and realise, going into an argument, that you might not be so sure anymore when you come out of it… An attitude of openness going in means that one has to be able to listen, but you should also be able to think through ideas for and against a certain position; and try to have a big picture of what’s going on before going into the nitty gritty details.”
She talked about Thomas Aquinas being someone who truly lived the rules of disagreement well. Köhler-Ryan said that the exciting thing about him was that he could give the opponent’s argument even better than they could! Aquinas was also invested in the idea that it’s very human to ask questions and go deeper even when you know the answer.
Köhler-Ryan explained something she gets her moral philosophy students to do. She asks them to pick a moral issue they have an opinion on, and then explain why their opponent believes what they believe, before presenting their own view. There are three outcomes that can come from this – first, that a person will change their mind in the process. “This is an exciting moment!” said Köhler-Ryan. Others will better understand their own position, because the more they understand their opponent’s position, the deeper they can understand their own. And the third possible outcome would be that the student isn’t so sure of what they think anymore.
Recently, as she told the boys, Köhler-Ryan has been researching disputes between two of the fathers of the Catholic church – St Augustine and St Jerome. “One of the things they were arguing about is whether Christians should just amicably agree about everything, or whether they should discuss and really try and figure out what’s going on…” she said.
“One thing we could think about is why we avoid disagreements, and whether there are some moments where you would want to avoid a disagreement, and whether there are others where you’d want to go right into a disagreement…”
She went on: “We live in a political state which is democracy… rule by the people… Democracy only works if you have an educated populace who are ready to think about what is good for society. So if you’re living in a democracy where everyone is saying ‘I don’t want to offend anyone so I’m not going to tell you what I really think,’ then you’re actually in a very dangerous situation, because no one is able to bring out into an open space what they want to think about and talk about. And so the rules of debate become quite difficult.”
Köhler-Ryan also talked about how important university is as a setting in which to practice the rules of democracy. “You have a range of ideas. You’re actually learning…how to think in university, no matter what it is that you’re studying. In university you always come across ideas that you agree with and ideas that you disagree with, and you’re kind of learning how to navigate and negotiate them.”
An evening with Archbishop Amel S Nona DD On Wednesday 23 May 2018, Warrane College welcomed Archbishop Amel S Nona DD, Eparch of St Thomas the Apostle of Sydney of the Chaldeans since 2015. He spoke to the boys about some of the persecution he and his church have experienced in Iraq, and it was clear that he is a man of great faith. What is the Chaldean Catholic Church? The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic particular church that is in full communion with the Holy See and the rest of the Catholic Church, and, as the archbishop told the boys, traces back to St Thomas the Apostle. The Chaldean Patriarchate was originally formed out of the Church of the East in 1552 and is part of Syriac Christianity by heritage. It is headquartered in the Cathedral of Mary Mother of Sorrows in Baghdad, Iraq. While most of its congregation live in northern Iraq, there are also many Chaldeans in the Western world, such as the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Australia and New Zealand which is based at Bossley Park, Sydney, NSW. Archbishop Nona was ordained a priest of Alquoch (Chaldean), Iraq in January 1991, was ordained a bishop in January 2010, and was installed Archbishop of Mosul (Chaldean), Iraq in January 2010. He works generously for the Chaldean people here who been affected by the plight of Christians in Iraq; his motto being that ‘during a time of crisis and persecution, we must remain full of hope’. Archbishop Nona’s experiences in Mosul When he was installed Archbishop of Mosul, Nona’s predecessor had just been kidnapped and killed. It was evidently a role meant for a man of faith. “How can one confront persecution starting from the basis of faith?” Archbishop Nona asked the boys. “If others want to kill us, and if I am to die an hour later, it is required of us to live life now, rejoicing and filled with courage in the moment. The strongest weapon against terrorism is a happy life and fully Christian.” The archbishop recounted his experience of Holy Week in Mosul in 2011. Holy Thursday mass was planned for early in the day rather than the usual evening mass, so that people would get home safely afterwards. On the day however, a curfew was enforced by the army; which banned anyone from driving, and in some places, they weren’t even allowed to travel on foot. He asked the police to take him to the church to see what could be done, hoping that the mass could go ahead even if only with a handful of people. But on arrival, he found that the church was already about one-third full, and more people started arriving as time went on – whole families had come walking! Some had walked more than an hour to be there – a dangerous feat, especially for young women travelling alone. The archbishop was amazed with their genuine faith and courage. “We challenged fear with the joy of faith,” he said. “Maybe someone will ask: how is it possible to live like this? The reason is simple – because we love our faith, and we want to be always faithful whatever the price we pay. The price we have paid is very great and deals with thousands of martyrs throughout history, and still to this very day, our blood is still being spilled. The Christian faith has become part of our identity, so we don’t distinguish between faith and our human identity... Faith for us is not a religion but a way of life, and a journey that shapes and forms our reality for the whole of our life. Being Christians is what is important to us in the first place, not just what we have or possess.” Faith and persecution On 10 June 2014, 120,000 Christians from the Mosul area left and went to Northern Iraq. Things were tough, and churches opened their doors to help. Things are still tough, with some of these people still trying to establish a life there. But Archbishop Nona spoke about the power of faith to overcome these challenges. “Terrorists are well aware that the implanting of fear in others helps them to stay and do what they want in the war. So our weapon as Christians is to live without fear and showing them that we love life, and that we do everything to live well, and will never give up this form or way of life. I know one thing from my experience having lived in Mosul – the Christian faith is the solution. It is possible to fight fear in courage with the declaration of our faith...” He continued: “Is there a future for Christians in these areas? The question is complex and difficult to answer. However, if it is easy, then the vast majority of people want to leave those areas and migrate out of Iraq because they have lost confidence in everything... With all this, we still believe there will remain some Christians in certain areas such as northern Iraq, which is somewhat safer than the rest of the country. What is important in all this is the Christian faith. Our faithful do not want to leave their faith and therefore they prefer to emigrate rather than stay and have their freedom of faith and expression of it constrained or limited. Our land, for us, is where it is possible for us to live our faith.” Archbishop Nona left the boys with a quote from a fourth-century patriarch who was martyred by beheading. It was from a song he made up as they prepared him for death by taking his clothes; and it is still sung today: “even if you are stripped of your outer clothes, do not take off your inner clothes, dear baptised faithful...”
A career in the psychology of air safety with Dr Claire Marrison
On Wednesday 9 May 2018, Dr Claire Marrison had words of wisdom to share with the boys as the formal dinner guest at Warrane College. The Standards & Systems Manager at Air Services Australia, she told the boys about her work – oversighting how Airservices’ approach to both safety and environment management – and how she got there.
Overall she had three main lessons for the boys; on risks, opportunities, and priorities.
Marrison told the boys how she started out studying psychology, something her parents nicknamed a “Mickey Mouse degree”. True, she didn’t really have a career path in mind – but psychology interested her and she was keen to go to university.
After completing her honours degree in psychology, she was still unsure where she was headed. She travelled to Australia, backpacked, and headed home to the United Kingdom just as undecided as to what the future held for her.
But as she told the boys, not everyone will have it figured out from the start, and that’s okay. “One of the things I want to say to you today – there are points in your career where you need to take risks,” Marrison said. “Only by taking risks will you get to see what your real potential is.”
Back in the UK, an opportunity arose – she was asked to do a Masters course, and it didn’t hurt that she would be paid for it. An airline wanted some research done on the psychological welfare of their staff, so she was trained to be an air hostess and she travel with them in order to complete it. After a year of this, she got asked to look into passenger responses to aircraft emergencies – which turned into her PhD.
It was from this place that her career in air safety took off, so to speak. “As I said at the start, I’ve never really had a firm path of where I wanted to go; opportunities arise and you just grab them,” Marrison said to the boys. She learnt that airplanes need certification to do with evacuation safety, but that there had been instances where supposedly certified planes didn’t have successful evacuations, resulting in many deaths. She began to study what was going wrong by simulating emergency situations, and it turned out to be that the competition between the passengers involved was the mystery factor. From this she had to think about how to change evacuation situations from a psychological point of view; which led to a change of regulations.
With this specific area of expertise under her belt, Marrison found herself in great demand and was able to come to Australia as an air accident safety investigator. She spent time looking at human performance, with questions such as why pilots make errors, and also studied survival factors in the US. It was after about four years of this kind of work that she started working for Air Services Australia, where she felt she was at the end of the chain where she could have more practical impact.
Keeping your priorities straight
Marrison finished up with some advice for the boys. “There were a couple of things I’d like to say about my experience,” she said. “What it shows is that life can be taken away from you very, very quickly. And I suppose one of the things I did take from that is that I don’t think that if my life flashes before me - like some of the people I was then dealing with - I don’t think I’m going to be actually thinking about “I wish I’d worked a bit harder”... I think I would be thinking about the friendships I made, the relationships, and about the contributions I had made to society... So I think for me it’s one of the key things I’ve kept with me.”
She continued: “It’s about, you know, making that contribution to the world and actually having really, really good relationships, because those are the things I think you’ll be thinking about when you pass on into the next life.”
She also encouraged the boys to do what they love. “I think you need to be true to yourself – in saying that, money is important and the higher up you are in the organisation, the more money you’re going to get. But if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, then you’re not going to have that quality of life.”
(Photographs from the evening are available here)
Prof Geoff Crisp - UNSW’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor on making a difference On Wednesday 11 April 2018, the boys of Warrane College heard from UNSW’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) himself – Professor Geoff Crisp. A distinguished chemist, he has been in the role since 2016, where he plays a leadership part in the development and implementation of the educational components of the UNSW 2025 Strategy. With numerous awards to his name, Crisp spoke to the boys about making a difference in whatever careers they were to undertake, and despite where they come from. “It actually doesn’t matter where you start from,” Crisp said, telling the boys that he came from a low socioeconomic background; with parents who never finished school. “It’s where you set your sights, on where you want to go...” Crisp’s journey to academia It might have come as a surprise to the boys that Crisp had no real idea what he wanted to do after school. “I was lucky in one sense; I found school relatively easy... but that was partly because I was happy to work hard,” he told the boys. “The reason I went to university was not actually because I was thinking about what job I’d get afterwards, because I had absolutely no idea... In fact, getting a job wasn’t really a thing I was particularly interested in, and going to university. I went to university because I loved chemistry...” Crisp attended the University of QLD for his undergraduate – a Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry and Pure Maths. “I loved doing chemistry because it enabled me to look around at the world and think about how things work and why things work – why things are the way they are, and why they aren’t some other way. And probably then is when I started thinking, well it’s all very nice being interested in chemistry, but what difference is that going to make to the world? ... And I must say at that stage I really did not know how I was going to make a difference. I didn’t know how I was going to join my passion for chemistry with how I might end up making a difference in the world.” As he studied, he learnt to be open to trying new things and saying yes to things – he found this was a way to meet new people, and be presented with new opportunities. After doing his Honours, he wasn’t sure what was next, and his supervisor suggested doing a PhD next at ANU in Canberra, which he completed over the following three years. Still unsure what he wanted after this but passionate about research, he applied for a fellowship which took him to Germany. At age 28 he was back in Australia with his wife and three kids, and had to think about what job to settle into – he didn’t plan on being an academic but that’s where he ended up. “One of the key lessons I learnt there was first off, have a goal, but make sure you’ve got a Plan B because not everything is going to work out exactly the way you think it will. Other opportunities will come up... Even if it doesn’t work out as you want, you’re going to learn something from it , you’re going to meet new people, you’re going to do other things, and it is actually going to open up other doors for you,” said Crisp. Planning to make a difference It soon became clear to the boys that Crisp’s main passion was making a difference. “I didn’t plan out everything in my life,” he said, “but one of the things I absolutely planned out was to make a difference... I think that’s what everyone has to do with their life: think about how you’re going to make a difference. This world should be a better place because you’ve been in it – and you’ve got to think about, what’s your part to make this world a better place. And look, even at 15 or 16, that’s what I was thinking...” He went on: “When I was young...I used to read a lot. And I was quite an eclectic reader, so I used to read all sorts of things. And the thing that struck me about a lot of the classical writers was that they were writing to often change society or challenge society about some of the ways things are. And that had a big influence on me. So even though I ended up going down a science path, I was a very avid reader of art, of history, of social science – I loved all that... I still read a lot of history now, because I’m interested in why things ended up the way they are. So I guess...I was inspired by some of the relatively well-known classic writers who I thought were trying to put a mirror up to us sometimes, to say well, what am I doing to make a difference – what are we doing to make a difference?” As for whether Crisp felt he could make a difference as an academic, the answer is yes. “To me universities are unique places,” he said. “They are unique places because they are places where people are given the permission to think; they’re given the permission to think big; but they’re also places where we can contest ideas - where we can contest the way things are. It’s where we can ask that question ‘why?’ Why do we do things this way? Why aren’t we doing it some other way? And that’s certainly what I’ve tried to do throughout my career; is to continually contest the way we do it. Now you can’t change everything, all the time, overnight. But what you can do is keep making those differences and keep contesting the way we do things...” Crisp went on: “So what happened was, even though I started out in chemistry, I wanted to make a difference to my students and I wanted to teach better... So the path I’m on now is the path to actually try and make a difference to the whole university by making a difference to how we do things. So that’s really my job if you wonder what a Pro-Vice-Chancellor does – they just sit there working out how can we teach better, how can we have better facilities around the university for teaching, how can we put things in place that make it better for our students and our staff...” In fact, it is UNSW’s zeal for making a difference that makes Crisp so happy to be there. “One of the really key things for me is that there are three platforms to our [UNSW’s] strategic plan. One is academic excellence, which is around teaching and research... Second one is about global impact. So this university doesn’t just see itself as Australian...this university sees itself as a world university and working on the world stage. So we actually want to make a difference to the world, not just to Sydney or not just to Australia... And the third thing, which is the particular thing that attracted me to UNSW, is the social responsibility...”