Australian cricketing legend Mr Adam Gilchrist AM helped the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) kick off the new academic year in style this week, welcoming thousands of new and returning undergraduate and postgraduate students to the institution’s Knowledge Village campus.
Visiting the University in his capacity of Brand Ambassador for the University of Wollongong, Australia, Gilchrist participated in a busy program of events.
During two question-and-answer sessions excited students benefited from hearing his wise words on education and making the most of their time at UOWD, drawing on anecdotes from his career as a world renowned cricket player.
“Joining the IPL (Indian Premier League) was one of the highlights of my career,” Gilchrist told a packed audience of undergraduates. “Having the opportunity to listen to, and learn from, people from different cultures and with different personalities taught me how important it is that we all sit down together and learn about each other. At UOWD you’ll have the opportunity to do just that from students from 114 different nationalities. The multicultural nature of Dubai means that it is an amazing place to start learning the skills you’ll need to solve the local, regional and international issues of the future.”
Describing how education has always been a passion due to being raised in a family of teachers, the sporting superstar also answered questions from postgraduate students. “University gets you a ticket to the game: it’s up to you if you participate in that game or if you sit back and watch... How you think, is how you feel, is how you act,” he advised.
A highlight of the busy itinerary for many students was a leadership debate which saw Gilchrist appear on a panel alongside Dr Catherine Todd, Associate Professor and Ultramarathon runner and Dr Payyazhi Jayashree, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Business and Human Resource Management specialist.
Facilitated by Dr Mohan Guruswamy, the panel discussed a wide range of issues surrounding leadership and sportsmanship including motivations for success, the importance of ethics in sport and business, personality traits of good leaders and achieving a sound work/life balance.
Gilchrist spoke openly and honestly about his own experiences of leadership, citing cricketers Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting as inspirations whose belief, trust and hope in both their own abilities and that of their fellow players had a huge impact on his career.
Over the course of the visit, Gilchrist bestowed the Sports Award in his name to two up and coming UOWD athletes, Olympic swimmer Sara Lajnef and top-order wicket keeper/batsman Shivank Vijaykumar. The ceremony was attended by a number of eager young sports people from UOWD’s school outreach program who enjoyed lunch with the cricketing great after the formalities.
Gilchrist also addressed staff and alumni during his stay in Dubai and was keynote speaker at a business networking event organised by the Australian Business Council. Held at The Address Hotel, Dubai Marina, the event was attended by HE Pablo Kang, the Australian ambassador to the UAE.
Commenting on Gilchrist’s visit, Professor Mohamed Salem, President of UOWD, said: “Adam Gilchrist continues to be an inspirational personality. It was an honour to welcome him back to UOWD to kick start the new semester. I am thrilled that he was able to meet so many of our new and returning students. Adam’s extensive experience both on the sports field and supporting the education sector means that we are privileged to call him our brand ambassador. Our students learnt a lot from his visit and I know they will remember his words of wisdom for years to come. This week has set the tone for what I know will be a fantastic year ahead for the University.”