YSPN Summit 2017 reflections by Sofia Kaur

There is something incredibly enthralling about our human capacity to connect, to love and to put a piece of our minds and hearts into something that is not ourselves. Look at a mother’s love; a teacher’s commitment or a musician’s devotion to their art.

On the weekend of the 16th/17th September, I spent the better part of 48 hours with a group of thirty-something young leaders intent on pouring themselves, wholly and without hesitation, into an organisation and vision that transcended their own.

The 2017 Young Sikh Professional Network’s Leadership Summit was more than a weekend of strategy and planning; it was proof of the power that a giving and committed collective wield – a fitting reminder of Margaret Mead’s insistence that we must never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and dedicated citizens can, indeed, change the world.

2017 has seen the birth of YSPN’s first international chapter; our entity is new with a membership that calls a sleepy cluster of islands at the bottom of the world home. We have always looked up at the flourishing diaspora of apne (our own) across the Tasman Sea, our eyes wide and admiring, like an eager younger sibling wanting to join in. In July this year, we launched YSPN in New Zealand to a room of over 100 young professionals. In conversation with these young people, one particularly compelling sentiment resounded, and in reflecting on the success of the launch, it occurred to me that it wasn’t just the stunning venue, or the wisdom shared by our guest speakers, or even the relevance of the kaupapa (the agenda) of the event that made that launch a success – it was simply that YSPN was needed.

Being a part of YSPN’s international expansion is exciting as it is: to be able to take bold actions and make brave moves in creating conditions for our young people to succeed is, in equal parts, exhilarating, humbling and fulfilling. To be a young Sikh woman learning to enact a purposeful leadership in sewa (service) of our community is a whole new experience of empowerment.

Of course, this endeavour is not without challenge. There is an entrenched status quo; a slowly unravelling youth apathy; the navigation of a previously uncharted space where ‘us’ and ‘them’ meet and of course, the inevitable roadblocks of any pioneering effort. Being the first people to do something for the first time demands tenacity and tact – a learning familiar to those who have worked tirelessly over the years to make YSPN what it is today in Australia, and a learning that we carry as we approach these challenges face-on in our city.

The fruits of a mother’s love, a teacher’s commitment or a musician’s devotion to their art are plentiful. With our sibling chapters as our muse, an incredibly adept team on the ground, and a weekend spent at the Summit enveloped in the wairua (spirit) of an enduring commitment to the cause, I cannot wait to be witness to the impact YSPN will undoubtedly have on our young people, our community, and our legacy.

Mā te wā – until next time.

Sofia and the YSPN Auckland team

Creating the Society We Want to Live In with Sapreet Kaur

It’s all too easy to feel helpless in today’s era of fake news; the rapid flow of news and even faster reactions makes it easy to feel overwhelmed. Sapreet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition showed that the smallest actions while seemingly insignificant, can snowball into large movements over time.

Speaking at YSPN events in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney, Sapreet illustrated how her parents inculcated values of sewa in their children through making sandwiches for the homeless. Her belief in the powerful of small, targeted actions in shifting our societies is energizing and communicates vital messages of our roles as human in being socially and civically conscious.

Simren Samrai from Indian Link, wrote about how individuals can drive lasting change, and her own experiences listening to Sapreet in Sydney, you can read more here: http://www.indianlink.com.au/sikh-coalition/

Our new YSPN Brand Identity

We’re proud to unveil our new brand and visual identity! The YSPN visual identity reflects the concept of greater heights through solidarity. Using the architectural analogy of the ‘bundled tube structure,’ the design team used conceptual towers to express how everyone in the network collectively influences each other’s success.

A new typeface was constructed for YSPN as part of this project called ‘Sewa Sans,’ which expresses the impact of YSPN through the upward kinks in the lettering to show continuous growth.

YSPN would like to thank the hard work of Studio Nerve who delivered this project to YSPN as a pro-bono project.

[su_vimeo url=”https://vimeo.com/183801412″]

YSPN Strategy Weekend

Sitting on the 7am flight from Brisbane to Sydney, I had no idea what the National Strategy Weekend was going to have in store. After all, these are things executives with decades of experience do, not a consultant in the Big 4, relatively fresh out of university! Despite my fears during that flight, the experience was incredible. The opportunity to sit with fellow committee members from the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane chapters, reflect on the organisation’s achievements, take a candid look at the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation, and then help build an inspiring vision for what the future might look gave a rare insight into what the future held.

The weekend began with an opportunity for us as a group to reflect on the origins of YSPN, and the subsequent achievements of the organisation. Often the word ‘’remarkable” is overused but the level of progress that YSPN has experienced since its inauguration is nothing short of it. The idea conceived by the founders was to establish a platform for young Sikh professionals that would be “cool.” Three years later, YSPN has showcased 19 guest speaker events across its Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane chapters. Brisbane, in particular, was merely an idea during the 2014 National Strategy Weekend and has now come to fruition having hosted two sold out events since the beginning of 2015.

The session then shifted to an honest assessment of strengths and weaknesses in light of our stated aims. As an organisation, YSPN aims to build a unified, stronger and more connected Sikh community ultimately allowing for success in the Sikh and indeed, broader Australian community. While we made a fantastic start, we needed something on a more personal level to continue developing on our foundations, and help young Sikhs build relationships that would enable them to succeed. With this in mind, the team decided on building a platform for mentorship. The main objective of mentoring would be to connect successful Sikhs to those embarking on their professional careers in corresponding fields ultimately giving a platform to fast-track personal and professional development.

After we addressed what we felt was an important gap in what we do as an organisation, we moved onto the critical next question of where YSPN aims to be in the next five to ten years. The most inspiring takeaway from this discussion was the ambition apparent amongst committee members. Our targets included for example: establishing chapters in overseas locations, gaining influence in both the community and media, and developing a platform for Sikhs to become industry leaders. On a personal note, it will be “mission accomplished” when a member in the YSPN network becomes a partner in a Big 4 firm, as a result of relationship established with a Sikh CEO of an ASX200 listed company.

Throughout this weekend, the most compelling and unique thing about YSPN’s position that struck me was that most young Sikh professionals in Australia are typically 1st generation. There are other organisations in the world which provide Sikhs the opportunity to network and connect, however YSPN has an unprecedented opportunity to shape the future of the Australian-Sikh community like no other organisation in the world and fundamentally change the trajectory of our community. Right now, it’s about developing that platform for future generations to leverage from, so that they become testament to the YSPN mission statement, and a proud reflection of the talent and contribution that our community has to offer.