Why I wanted to be part of the ARI Young Leaders

by Matt Griffiths on July 07, 2020

By Matt Griffiths

Back in 2017, the ARI launched the ARI Mentor Program. Our motivation was to contribute positively to the aquatics and recreation industries to create a stronger, more vibrant aquatic industry.

Critical to the success of all organisations in service industries are the qualities of its people. Aquatics and recreation has always been recognised as a highly casualised and itinerant workforce. With high annual staff turnover; nurturing talent and cultivating future leaders often comes second in organisations forced to focus on filling and creating functional teams.

And so we created the Mentor Program. To pause for a moment and identify talent within our organisations, and make a commitment to their growth even if only for a little while. Being heavily involved in that first year as an administrator and facilitator of the program, I was blown away by the intelligence, insight and energy that teams were bringing to the challenge.

Projects like SALT and MODES were thrust into the spotlight, and have demonstrated the power of engaging with youth. Whilst these projects were impressive, what was more impactful about the Mentor Program were the conversations across all the teams that were challenging a lot of the assumptions that underpin our decision making. It was from these conversations that an urgent need arose to continue the involvement of our Mentees in the ARI.

If the COVID crisis has taught us anything, tomorrow’s aquatics and recreation industry is going to be vastly different to today’s.

Interestingly, youth participation in organisations goes beyond creating more agile companies and effective succession planning, it might just help to improve the bottom line by addressing some of the reasons employees leave organisations.

In 2016, Deloitte conducted a Millenial Survey in which they surveyed 7,700 Millennials across 29 countries from all industries.

What was most interesting from their results was that if given the choice, one in four Millennials would quit his or her current employer in the next year to join a new organization or to do something different.

In Deloitte's report, 63 percent of Millennials say their “leadership skills are not being fully developed.”

And here is the kicker, the survey finds that 71 percent of those likely to leave their organisation in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed.

People under the age of 35 in our organisations recognise how valuable good leadership is to organisations and have a strong desire to be the leaders our organisations need.

Further, Millennials want to contribute to the positive impact they believe business has on society, but in so doing, they wish to stay true to their personal values. In the Deloitte report 70 percent of Millennials believe their personal values are shared by the organizations they work for. This rises to 82 percent for those Millennials intending to stay for at least another five years.

Millennials often cop a bad rap for their lack of loyalty or commitment. But its important we understand what earns that loyalty and how to cultivate it. For me, the Deloitte report highlights two interconnected themes:

  • Millennials want to work for organisations that share their values and will give their loyalty to those same organisations
  • Millennials are crying out for opportunities to develop their leadership recognising that leadership is highly valued by organisations

In providing opportunities for youth participation in leadership, we provide them with greater opportunity to influence our values and culture. Not only do we enhance their leadership abilities, we bring our values closer together.

In an industry focussed on improving the physical, social, and emotional health of our communities there are plenty of opportunities to motivate the young leaders in our organisations. Now we just have to create the opportunities to learn to lead.

Organisations have a responsibility to not just look at the challenges of today but also to consider the challenges of tomorrow. And so ARI enagages with the future leaders of our industry to understand their vision. To do our part to prepare them to lead and to take steps to evolve our organisation to be ready.

To date, they have already highlighted key themes that resonate with their peers. Environmental sustainability, career development and advancement, technology adaptation and adoption and championing the role of young people are just some of the key themes regularly discussed and debated by the Young Leaders Advisory.

For me, the chance to be a part of the conversation and give others that same opportunity was why I wanted to be part of the ARI Young Leaders. If you want to also be a part of the conversation, join the Young Leaders on Facebook:


Deloitte only recently published the findings of their 2020 Global Millenial Survey. If you’ve got time, it’s a fascinating read on the impact of COVID-19, resilience and responsibility. It can be found here: