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Xero at Festival for the Future 2021

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Ruth James

Aug 23, 2021

Festival for the Future (FFTF) was recently held at Wellington’s TSB arena. As an Impact Partner for Inspiring Stories, we were able to take 50 Xeros, friends, family, and partners with us.

Since its launch in 2011, the summit has gained a reputation for being one of the most inspirational leadership events in Australasia, and this year’s festivities certainly did not disappoint. 

Inspiring lineup of speakers

FFTF kicked off on Friday evening with a Mihi Whakatau, Waiata and Kapa Haka performance. This was followed by a welcome message from Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern. 

The keynote speakers that evening really set the tone for what to expect for the rest of the weekend. Featuring 35+ game-changing, impact-driven leaders making a difference both locally and abroad, the festival was certainly packed with a pretty impressive lineup. 

First up, we heard from Sir Ian Taylor who talked about his childhood in Raupunga, and how from such humble beginnings he came to be the Founder/Managing Director at Animation Research Ltd, a technology company based in Dunedin. His message was that as a Maori he recognised that innovation is in his DNA, and sighted that his ancestors were some of the greatest designers, engineers, astrologers and scientists, who reached New Zealand before Captain Cook!

Karen (Kaz) Hepi, a coach and mentor in the Future Leaders programme run by Inspiring Stories, also shared with us her upbringing and how she decided that her family history of gang affiliation was not going to stop her aspirations to be a change-maker in her community.  

The rest of the weekend was a combination of storytelling, calls to action and inspiration. Speakers ranged from MP for Maungakiekie Hon Priyanka Radhakrishnan, to TV presenter and journalist Miriama Kamo, and LGBQT+ advocate and human rights champion Shaneel Lal. All the speakers shared their passions, their stories  the victories and the challenges. It was a rollercoaster of emotions from tear felt trauma, to battle cries for change, and belly shaking laughter. Each speaker left an imprint whether it was a call to arms or a new mantra. 

Interactive panel talks and workshops

Panel talks throughout the weekend also created open and honest discussions around issues such as climate change, diversity and inclusion, and NextGen Business for Impact – re-defining success for the new economy being discussed. Entrepreneurs, activists and subject matter experts all contributed thoughtful and confronting insights to each of these areas, leaving attendees with food for thought and actions to help contribute to a change for good.

There were also hands-on workshops offering a range of topics like ‘How to Win Over Impact-Investors with your Business Idea’, and ‘UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’. Our very own Phil Crothers, one of Xero’s Learning Experience Partners ran a workshop throughout the weekend called ‘Growth Mindset: Create Your Space and Find Your Voice’. 

Festival marketplace activation for social innovation

Amongst all of this was also the marketplace activation where a wide range of businesses, institutions and agencies engaged with attendees. 

Groups such as CoLiberate offered a safe space for wellbeing, whilst retailers such as Little Yellow Bird and Human Interface Jewellery were telling their story and selling their goods. Simplicity was there talking about their socially responsible investment philosophy – as were Sharesies who were on the floor discussing their vision to offer equal opportunity for people to grow their wealth. 

Xero also had a stand in the marketplace, a beautifully designed paint by numbers mural that illustrated Xero’s social and environmental impact. Attendees were invited to participate using paint provided by the Natural Paint Company, finalist and winner of the Impact awards for Enterprise

Overall the weekend was a total success and among many others I left feeling inspired. I’m already looking forward to next year. Details, dates and tickets can be found here for FFTF 2022. We hope to see you there!

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