I have just finished an annual event called the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit. It is a conference where they invite influential leaders to talk to a room full of other influential people. It is a fairly high profile event. (See website here)
My job was to oversee the accreditation and registration process. The event this year was met with many challenges – the first of which was that Archbishop Desmond Tutu refused to share the stage with Tony Blair. Apparently the Archbishop made the protest because of the former Prime Minister’s “morally indefensible” decision to lead British forces into Iraq in 2003.
I hate to admit it but I have lost a lost of respect for the Archbishop over the last week. The reason being is that both the Archbishop and Tony Blair have been on the agenda for weeks and weeks – contracts signed and fees paid. The Archbishop’s morals suddenly changed earlier this week though when he all of a sudden decided that he would not share the stage with Tony Blair. 2 Days before the event!
Now I would have no problem with this if he made his case and stated his opinions before he signed his contract or when both their contracts were confirmed ages ago. The fact that they were both contracted was no secret and this has been in the media and on the relevant event website for weeks.
Anyway – all was not lost. The event organisers brought in a last minute replacement. None other than our new local hero – Chad Le Clos. He recently brought home (to South Africa) 2 Olympic medals from the 2012 Olympic Games – one gold and one silver. Now I am sure you are all saying how can I compare Chad Le Clos to the Archbishop.
Well it is easy –
- Firstly, his morals are not in question.
- Secondly – you only need to look at him to see why I loved having him there. It brightened up my day yesterday and almost every conversation I had with a female co-worker was about “have you seen Chad yet!” or “wonder how we can get into his change-room…….” I have included a pic of him here – I didn’t bother to include his face as I didn’t feel it was relevant!
I did manage to sit in on the conference during Tony Blair’s speech and for his question and answer section after. I have always been fairly impartial to Tony Blair – he was the leader of one of the world’s most influential countries, but he really didn’t affect my life much. I am also not really bothered about politics.
I have a new found respect for Tony Blair now. This was not the typical politician who blagged his way through 45 minutes on stage. He was absolutely riveting on stage. The delegates asked him some pretty tough questions and he answered them all honestly and he didn’t try to avoid any of them.
All in all, it was a successful event regardless of the challenges and well done to the organisers for a fast save!