Leadership Samoa participants are often from high-level management positions, with seniority and many years of experience.
But this year, a new initiative to include youth was started, and the program welcomed three young participants who don’t typically fit the bill.
One of those young people also happens to be Leadership Samoa’s first ever disabled participant, and he does not wish to be the last.
Tusiga Peseta Taofiga, a senior reporter for Savali is just 23, and uses a wheelchair. He said this program has given him opportunities to upskill and potentially reach more senior positions in his career.
“This has been good for me personally,” he said.
“The program is not just about how to be a leader at work, but how to manage things in life.”
Good governance has been a particular focus as well, which Mr Taofiga says is the most benefit.
“Lots of people out there have really good qualifications but not good governance,” he said.
After going through the program, Mr Taofiga said he feels more equipped to graduate from senior reporting to becoming an editor or principal.
“These skills will teach me how to get through bad times,” he said.
As a particularly young person in the cohort, Mr Taofiga feels acutely aware he doesn’t have as much life experience as some of his colleagues.
“But when people say I am too young, I tell them I am not – it is all about knowledge and skills, not just age.”
The YouthLed Samoa cohort was Mr Taofiga, Jordanna Mareko from UN Women and Sulimoniolesuafa Seumanutafa the co-founder of Laveai Trust.
Navigating the program in a wheelchair means paying extra attention to the needs of other disabled people when it comes to policy writing and research.
“I try to put in extra effort that disabled people will be reflected in the policies not just the abled people,” Mr Taofiga said.
“I encourage people with disabilities to come and apply for this program, it is not just for the abled people but for everyone to come and upgrade their skills.”
Mr Taofiga feels passionately that the work of the cohort on sexual harassment policies in the workplace will have a big impact.
“It happens everywhere, not just in the workplace, of course,” he said.
“We have to increase awareness that sexual harassment is not allowed, because it is hurting people.”