Igniting the hearts and minds of leaders

Written by Jennifer Penner

June 9, 2014

Leaders at a Global Exchange in Medellin

Global Exchange in Panama

On March 15, 2014, roughly 30 Canadian and four American leaders (men, women, and couples) travelled to Panama for a LeaderImpact Global Exchange where they had unique opportunities to impact the lives of other leaders by leveraging their professional experience and expertise.

“God used us in a huge way, because we were willing to go.”

In just one intensive week, almost 60 events took place in Panama City and Colon, including speaker events, presentations in boardrooms, dinner parties and one-on-one coffee conversations. Amazingly, about 1600 leaders were reached, and 400 professed accepting Christ! Additionally, many personal and business connections were fostered, and thousands of lives were deeply impacted, especially those of Panamanian leaders. Local city chair and CEO (American English Overseas) Italia Vergara stated, “We know this is going to bring permanent change here to how we approach life, work, and faith.”

Stepping out in Faith

This year, the exchange involved the participation of roughly 30-35 local leaders from a very diverse range of fields: politics, accounting, finance, education, agriculture, real estate, athletics, and a strong component of the military.

Saskatchewan couple Cameron and Candy McBride were among the diverse group of Canadian leaders who travelled to share their knowledge and experience in Panama. Candy, a Chief Human Resources Officer for d3h Hotels, and Cameron, a police officer for the past 18 years, had been involved in LeaderImpact forums and groups at home, but were hesitant at first about attending the Panama Exchange.

“We weren’t sure about coming, as the whole idea of reaching out to people in the military was completely new and foreign to us,” explains Candy. “Our experience and connections were primarily with those in the police. We thought, ‘What could we possibly bring to them?’ ”

Despite their initial doubts, the McBrides took a step of faith and, along with other Canadian leaders, had experiences beyond what they expected. “We had an amazing time ministering to the military and their wives,” Candy says. “God used us in a huge way, because we were willing to go.”

Opening Doors Abroad

Vergara states that local leaders were impacted by the truths that Canadian leaders brought with them. “The interaction and relationships were beyond what we expected. It was beautiful to see people from different countries and speaking different languages able to connect with one vision and mission,” she says. “I saw many exchanging business cards and making long-term connections.”

It was beautiful to see people from different countries and speaking different languages able to connect with one vision and mission.

In particular, there was an excellent sharing and exchange of ideas and business practices amongst leaders across many different fields. Vergara shares how one of the leaders in real estate attended a LeaderImpact workshop about customer service. “Because her company was having an event the next day, she applied everything that she learned from the talk, and the results were great!”

The timing for the Global Exchange was also “perfect” according to Vergara who believes that the connections fostered there between Canadian and Panamanian leaders extended towards the personal and spiritual realm as well.

“Some of the local leaders who had been in a recent, major airplane accident were participating in the exchange,” she says. “This event was particularly important, as these eight individuals who were onboard had been involved in chasing drug dealers at the border. During the crash, one of them died, and the rest survived.” As several of the surviving leaders attended the exchange, they were very open to discussions about more than just their vocations. “Canadians were really able to talk openly to them about the connection between faith and work. The doors were totally open!” Vergara adds.

Changing Perspectives

A week at a Global Exchange can truly change one’s perspective as a leader.

The McBrides, as well as other Canadians, left Panama with a renewed sense of inspiration and motivation to grow as leaders back in their own workplaces. “I realized I have a unique opportunity at home to use the tools I’ve learned here to share my faith effectively and make a difference in the police department with those that I work with in a very stressful occupation,” Cameron shares. “While there are lots of opportunities I’ve missed in the past, the challenge is to take advantage of the opportunities that I do have from now on.”

“I have a newfound appreciation of what LeaderImpact does,” Candy says. ”With the knowledge and experience I’ve gained here, I have a desire to apply those lessons and impact more leaders back home.”

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