Eating our young – or nurturing and promoting their talents

Nurturing the YoungOK, well that heading was a little extreme but one thing that’s been increasingly giving me the hebes is the extent to which those organising ‘think’ sessions focus on profile.  I recently attended one such roundtable attended by all sorts of worthies, but it was pretty hard to find anyone under fifty. Most of us had position or profile. And there was a PhD student there – in her thirties. She’d been invited to take notes.

My point isn’t really one about age.  I wasn’t thinking ‘where are all the young people?’. I was thinking ‘where is all the young talent?’ Who is cultivating it? Who’s helping me find and befriend younger people thinking about the things I’m thinking about (of course that’s principally my responsibility and I think I’m doing OK at it. But we should all be helping – as indeed I do when I introduce younger people I know to the opportunities I’m able to.)

Anyway one thing that should be done as a matter of course in conferences (after we all acknowledge the fact that it’s aboriginal land we’re on and we’d like to be nice about it but we’re keeping it) is to ask what it’s doing to cultivate talent – not of blowhards who’ve had a few decades to work their way into people’s psyches but for people of talent who haven’t yet.

Conferences on innovation have their own problems with the obsession with the same phenomenon, but they often consciously promote young innovators, like the Annual Creative Innovation Conference which has become something of an institution in Melbourne. If you’re a young innovator and you want people to notice you, you might want to consider seeking a scholarship to the conference which would give you free admission to an exciting conference and a brief period to pitch to an august audience.  Anyway, if you’d like to apply for a scholarship and you want to send your application to me at ngruen at gmail. I’d be happy to pass it on to the organisers.


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10 years ago

Isn’t the conference dead as a means for exchanging information?

It seems to me, and I am biased against conferences based on personal experience, a bit of a dinosaur. Why listen to a person talk when all that information and more is available online and can be digested far more efficiently and critically that way?

I would assume that young people with talent, of which I am neither, would be predisposed not to go to these conferences because there are such better ways to learn and get things done.

murph the surf.
murph the surf.
10 years ago
Reply to  Antonios

Not if you are registered or licensed by an authority or board which requires a set amount of hours of face to face teaching/lecturing in a certain cycle .
Mind you the ATO has severely upset this gravy train as they will cut deductions for educational expenses to a max of $2,000 a year.
A typical 5 day conference would cost me $5-6000.

john r walker
10 years ago

“Isn’t the conference dead as a means for exchanging information?”

Is that what conferences for? aren’t they more about reinforcing hierarchy structures?

10 years ago

I imagine globalization is important here — if you’re a young innovator, why would you stay in Australia rather than just move somewhere with better funding and opportunities like the US?

Stephen Bartos
Stephen Bartos
10 years ago

Funny you should say that.
As part of the 2013 conference of the Institute of Public Administration Australia young people (well all people actually, but the target is younger people) are being given an opportunity to present an idea for the public sector. Any good idea at all – no limits.
The best five entries get free registration to the conference and a chance to present their idea.
The best among these gets a cash prize and free IPAA membership.
It’s called “the Pitch” and full details are on the IPAA national conference website.