Tracy Lee Hackland

The Columba Leadership Trust

What does your company do?

Columba’s purpose is awakening the leader within to change lives and their communities. Columba’s vision is to catalyse a vibrant national network of values-based leaders whose character, purpose and actions will strengthen the vital movement for meaningful change in their communities. Founded in 2009 our goal is to ensure that hundreds of thousands of young people become alive to their potential and recognize their ability to lead change in their own lives, their schools and communities. We also aim to ensure that publice high schools in South Africa are capacitated to make values, youth engagement and youth-adult partnerships part of the school culture and thereby foster conducive environments for development, learning and teaching. After leaving schools, Columba alumni are connected to a purpose-led network of peers for support, to collaborate in action that can serve society, and be connected to employment or bursary opportunities or showcase their own businesses with others. We work in close association with the Department of Education, building the capacity of high schools, serving economically disadvantaged communities to embed our values-based leadership model.

What is your biggest success?

I view my greatest achievement as being part of building Columba Leadership from a nascent to a national organisation within the first few years of its existence. But success is not yet about starting strong, it is also about staying strong. To date the Columba brand is strong and our leadership programme is considered by many to be a premier programme. Thousands have awakened to the leader within and taken steps to change their lives and their schools and communities. The Columba team are some of the most engaged and committed team members I have ever had the pleasure of working with. The aspect that gives me most joy is that we have "walked the talk" and not only espoused a belief in the greatness of youth but ensured that youth leaders direct the engagement of our national alumni network, develop all content, and play a seminal role in our online events and video production.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Our biggest hurdle is ensuring that we secure the funding we need to capitalise on opportunities to serve as many young people and schools as we can and compensate our top performers appropriately. This requires great stamina and tenacity as well as keeping ever alert to opportunities to leverage the assets we have to bring in revenue. Being fundable means that we have to ensure top class consistent delivery working with very under-resourced schools and youth from impoverished circumstances. It also means being ever alert on how we can do things better at less cost whilst never sacrificing what it is that makes us successful and unique.