One of the world's premier whiskies, Johnnie Walker, has made a global ambassador of young Jamaican architect, Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, at the recently held prestigious World Leadership Summit in South Africa.
Organised by The One Young World, the leadership summit is a high-level gathering of young, brilliant minds from around the globe and is positioned as a platform for discussion of issues and formulation of ideas towards positive global change.
"When I heard of the conference, the people involved and what I could gain from it, I pursued it," Hamilton says, adding: "I was nominated by a friend so I applied, was accepted, and despite the great cost of attending, I decided to make it happen."
Hamilton said he spoke to Jomo Cato at Red Stripe, who decided it was worth sponsoring as it aligned well with Johnnie Walker. He was excited at the unique opportunity which proved to be an eye-opening time to network, share ideas and open doors to global opportunities.
Now in its fifth year, the 2013 summit was held in Sandton City, Johannesburg. Hosted in Africa for the first time, it featured breakout sessions through the city, and plenary and special sessions in the convention centre.
"My focus as an entrepreneur was human trafficking, the environment, global poverty and corporate sustainability and responsibility," Hamilton says.
He notes that "putting people alongside profit is a wholesome value system which he learnt and which is environmentally uplifting. He cites as his hero, Sir Richard Branson, who started from scratch and built an empire. Hamilton got the opportunity to ask Branson a question from the floor; it was well received and he told the entire audience how much he loves Jamaica."
The summit which aims to level the playing field between youth and global leadership in both the private and public sectors, was attended by 1,300 young delegates from 190 countries. That level of participation is said to be surpassed only by the Olympics which has 192 countries represented.
The summit boasted a strong contingent of high-profile leaders "interested in empowering young people to stand for something, work hard for what they believe in and challenge social and bureaucratic barriers".
Keynote speakers included former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan; founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson; human rights activist, Sir Bob Geldof; Nobel Peace Prize laureate Professor Muhammed Yunus, tennis great, Boris Becker; Unilever's Global CEO, Paul Pohlman; Barclay's Global CEO, Anthony Jenkins; celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver; South African freedom fighter Winnie Mandela; Ahmed Kathrada, a South African politician who served 26 years in prison alongside Nelson Mandela and former Liverpool player, Jamaican born footballer, John Barnes.
Coming out of the summit, Hamilton is now involved with a think tank in South Africa, bringing together young entrepreneurs to help identify solutions for under-age drinking, drinking while pregnant and illegal alcohol distribution in South Africa, partnered with that country's largest brewery," he said.
Upon reflection Hamilton concludes that in addition to the older generation listening to youth, young people need to act and push for their voices to be heard especially as it relates to entrepreneurial opportunities in the private sector and reform in the public sector.
He says, "Far too often, young people just complain and remain contented with circumstances instead of challenging the systems they find issue with. I would say the underlying theme of the summit was just get up and do something."
WHO IS Kirk-Anthony Hamilton?
Hamilton is a young sustainable design and planning professional with a master's degree in architecture and extensive sustainable green design experience. He has served as an architectural design consultant on a number of projects, including the US$60m Star Island Bahamas, the world's first sustainable 100 per cent off the grid resort island; SEED Eco Lounge, a revolutionary ultra lounge in the United States; and a benchmark resort project proposal in Jamaica.
Hamilton's work from Star Island Bahamas has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times as well as a full feature on the Travel Channel.