On the day of the Institute of Directors Infrastructure debate I had no idea what to expect. Aside from a handful of articles, and a discussion with my business studies teacher, my knowledge on Guernsey’s infrastructure was relatively limited. However having lunch with Alastair Stewart with the Ana Leaf Foundation gave me the information I needed to think critically and meaningfully about what was said in the evening.
I was glad to have met Alastair beforehand as his approach changed completely from his lunch meeting to acting as compere. He engaged us all individually, and in small groups, in a thoughtful discussion about what it means to be a young person in Guernsey. He was genuinely interested and concerned about the student perspective and provided a welcome insight into the importance of a strong tax base and appealing to every demographic. Not only that but his advice about how to conduct ourselves at the debate and expertise about routes into industry and education allowed me to walk out of the OGH with new purpose and drive.
Fast forward to the evening at Beau Sejour - where we entered to an ever growing crowd of industry heads and directors; it was intimidating to say the least. At first, we talked amongst ourselves as students, but before long I realised that a networking opportunity like this was not to be wasted. I started to introduce myself to some of the gathering professionals and we spoke about their role in Guernsey’s infrastructure and their opinions on some of the topics that Alastair had suggested would crop up. As everyone began to funnel into the auditorium, the scale of the event dawned on me - hundreds of the island’s most influential figures brainstorming Guernsey’s future infrastructure. It was difficult to focus on the gnocchi.
After the initial presentations, giving background on the importance of infrastructure and digital security, the floor opened to a debate that covered a multitude of topics. Many solutions were brought forward regarding the island’s travel links, our digital infrastructure and the quality of education. What struck me most, however, was the artful integration of the audience’s opinions. Their participation was fostered by Alastair through his pointed questions, and entertaining approach, which brought in a wide variety of opinions from relevant sectors of industry. Given the quality and depth of feedback, I was anxious in having my say when the student table was addressed directly. However, the audience treated us with no prejudice or preference when listening to our perspectives and we all had light to shed on the most pertinent issues in education; namely the quality of IT support and the issues of Guernsey’s lack of appeal to school leavers.
When the microphone came to me, I found myself talking of my experiences with the creative industry and to what extent school had prepared me to handle working life. After a brief interlude, Alastair returned to me and asked me to give him one point of feedback that I would use to improve the island. This was completely unexpected, and I had seconds to find a reply, so I decided to circumvent the question entirely and instead comment on the states of Guernsey as a whole; “I don’t really care what they do, I just want them to do it a little faster.”
Needless to say, I came away from the evening with more than my fair share of job offers.