Jacoby Poulain: Speaker inspires leaders to dream


Every now and then someone pops up and gives me a clip upside the head so that I can see clearly again what was once hidden and reality for what it is.

Most recently this came by way of Sir Ray Avery who was the guest speaker at the Mayoral Leadership Summit of the Sir Peter Blakes Leadership Week in Hastings last week.

The theme of Leadership week was Dare to Dream. It was Sir Peter Blake who showed New Zealand that there are leaders and there are dreamers, saying that "leaders make things happen and dreamers have a vision". Guest speakers were all leaders in their chosen fields, and their vision intended to provide inspiration to all who attended the sessions.

After being cordially greeted by Mayor Yule at the Hastings Opera House, Sir Avery, a successful pharmaceutical scientist, inventor and social entrepreneur took the stage.

As he spoke an obvious yet subtle brilliance shone through. The man was intelligent. No ordinary intelligence either, but an almost genius level where he explained that he has a heightened sense of observation in that he can observe situations, happenings and how things work at a greater level than most others.

It was these powers of observation that led him to make many of the ground breaking discoveries, inventions and advancements in pharmaceutical technology that he has made to date.

One such invention was the development of a low cost eye lens and the systems and global distribution networks to go along with it. The mass introduction of regulatory-approved low-cost high-quality lenses collapsed the global price of lenses, making modern cataract surgery accessible to the world's poorest.

For one man to collapse a world market is an amazing feat and even more so considering that Sir Avery was once an orphan and homeless street kid who only developed his desire for science after hiding in libraries after hours seeking shelter for warmth.

As a child he could not see the blackboard due to poor eyesight, nor hear the teacher due to untreated ear conditions and he was dyslexic. He developed his remarkable powers of observation that have led to world class breakthroughs and discoveries as a way of compensating for these childhood learning disadvantages.

Sir Avery has a vision that 30 million people worldwide by year 2020 will have their sight restored due to his eye lens technology. I have no doubt that he will reach this goal and all that he sets.

He believes Kiwis can change the world and that those crazy enough to think they can change the world do. His message is that we can do the impossible. Barrier after barrier stood in his way in developing the lens technology in third world conditions, but he made it happen.

He believed in his band of brothers, his colleagues, and immersed himself in a country and with friends that allowed him to flourish and dare to dream.

I'm thankful to be reminded and have it brought into my vision once again that we do live in one of the most free countries in the world where we can choose to be and do just about anything we wish. In listening to Sir Avery I had the choice to sit there and shrink in my smallness compared to his life, genius and achievements or be inspired by his simple message and presence.

He did inspire me greatly and remind me that New Zealand allows us to dream and our dreams do come true if we simply see, believe and be.

Jacoby Poulain is a Hastings District Council Flaxmere Ward councillor.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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