John: A graduate’s journey to greatness

John is the Former CEO of Heritage Bank and was the Chairman of USQ's School Advisory Committee of the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance between 2007 and 2013.

John Minz delivered the following advice to USQ graduates during his guest speech at the 2015 April Toowoomba Graduation Ceremony.

Your university degree is not an end in itself. It is not a destination, but a “passport” that can be leveraged for greatness and lead to other learning and development opportunities, or allowed to depreciate through neglect. Even though you will learn a lot during your degree, about the course work and about yourselves, the simple truth is that there will always be much more to learn.

Transformational change is the new paradigm, and change is accelerating. Further learning may be expected by your employer or professional associations and you will need to maintain a career-long thirst for learning and a hunger for knowledge to keep up with our constantly changing world. As such, our universities should be considered the source of a lifelong learning relationship.

Your leadership education should be treated just as importantly as your university education; with forethought, planning, determination and review. Each and every person has the opportunity to be a leader. Everyone has the ability to inspire others through their words and actions. As university students, you are already well-placed to be leaders given your IQ, your capacity for learning and your capacity to work cohesively either with fellow students or university staff. As American president, John Quincy Adams, said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

The wisdom of great leadership is not always found in a textbook. Great leadership comes from clarity of vision, understanding human nature, having high levels of emotional intelligence, having courage when plotting and maintaining a course determination and being willing to put in personal effort. Your leadership education will come with experience, good habits and constant reflection, but will be enhanced by selecting great mentors. Choose your mentors carefully. Additionally, cauterise the bad habits and bad behaviours of the poor leaders to whom you become exposed.

When you learn how to be a leader or a better leader, your career will take off, as if on steroids. Good employers will expect you to achieve individual successes. Great employers will expect you to do this while leading others in achieving the company’s objectives.

To become a great leader, think about what you really want to do in life. Consider your strengths, values, skills and dreams, then turn these into a strategic action plan. For me, learning how to live positively and with purpose meant seeking ways to influence society and build community. I became a White Ribbon ambassador, an advocate within the TSN2V group, a Director of Australia’s CEO Challenge and a Challenger in 2010 raising awareness of domestic violence during a prolonged campaign. How will you use your academic brilliance to make this world a better place?

Use your learning passports as the beginning of your educational journey. Plan for your life to be great and it will be.

If you'd like more information about networking and how to boost your chances of graduate employment, please contact USQ's Careers & Employability Team.


Kylie: From travel agent to disaster management

Alice: Why my calendar looks like a physics textbook

Pocket guide to leadership