Q&A with a YO Grad

Jason Muir graduated from Youth Opportunities’ Personal Leadership Program back in 2003 at Seaford High School. He then went on to complete a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting/International Business) from Flinders University and is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand with a Chartered Risk Specialisation. Jason joined Statewide Super as Chief Risk Officer in 2020, and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Board’s risk management strategy. We recently caught up with Jason to ask him a few questions about his experience at Youth Opportunities 18 years ago, and how it has helped to shape his life today.

If you had to describe the Personal Leadership Program in 4 words, what would you say?
Four words is challenging – a life-changing experience.

Looking back at your time in the program 18 years ago, what concept or tool do you remember most clearly? How do you apply this in your life today?
The concept of making a problem with someone your problem – it is so simple but so profound for a teenager that thought that everyone was out to get me. Working in risk management now, my day is about working through problems that can often become highly emotional discussions. It is amazing how people respond when you own the problem, it completely changes the tone of the discussion.

What was life like before the program for you? How did it change after the program?
Life before the program was interesting, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life – I was regularly skipping school to work and was struggling with what I know now to be anxiety. When you are young, particularly 18 years ago when mental health wasn’t discussed like it is today, you just don’t understand why the highs and lows are so extreme. I would struggle to deal with personal conflict, whether it was with teachers or family and then because I was in a constant anxious state, I would act out.

Undertaking the program really helped me to understand the importance of goal setting and how it can positively impact not only through achievements but the positive impact of having direction on your mental health and anxiety.

If you were to give advice to your 15-year-old self, before you completed the program, what would it be?
I would definitely tell myself to listen more, hear what people have to say. As most 15-year-olds, I thought I knew everything and clearly I didn’t.

People were trying to help me and if I had have listened, I may have jumped a few hurdles easier along the way.

What advice would you give the young people going through our program today?
Take the opportunity and embrace the experience.

The program can seem like more work and particularly when you are younger, undertaking a program to build self-esteem can be confronting but it is worth it. Throughout my life I have been fortunate to be presented with opportunities, good and bad, it is so important to take them and you will always learn something, good or bad.

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