Clay Hunt Fellows Harness Leadership Styles at Sea

Australian Army Officer David Petersen finds strengths, friends, and direction through the Clay Hunt Fellows Program.

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“Tacking or coming about is a sailing manoeuvre by which a sailing vessel turns its bow into the wind through the ‘no-go zone’ so that the direction from which the wind blows changes from one side to the other.”[1]

I applied for the Clay Hunt Fellowship Program through Team Rubicon with the support of my regional leadership. My journey could be seen as my whole life taking a tack. My life was headed in one direction and is now on totally new course…the best part is I don’t quite know where I will end up.


When it came time for my interview, my life had gone off course and I felt totally out of control—I was sailing into the wind. One constant, however, was the comfort and support of Team Rubicon. The interview panel obviously saw potential opportunity in me during the application and interview process, when others no longer did. The news that I had been offered the privilege to commence my journey as a Clay Hunt Fellow was humbling and a phone call I will never forget.


In the first week of July 2016, the Clay Hunt Fellows of Cohort 4 assembled at the TR USA National HQ for our orientation and induction into the Fellowship. What did we learn during the week? We learn trying to sail head first into the wind will never get you anywhere.

During the orientation week, we began to identify our own strengths, our personality types, our leadership styles, and how we could best use them to “get shit done.” We learnt sunscreen is essential when sailing on the ocean, and swimming in the ocean fully clothed at 1 am off the coast of California may not be a wise idea for the cab ride home. We learnt that the feeling of capsizing sucks but is insignificant compared to the joy of righting the boat. We learnt that whilst the 12 fellows of Cohort 4 have come from all across the world, we all have one common passion: helping others while serving with Team Rubicon.


We all need to use our individual and collective strengths to sail into the wind. We all need to learn to tack. We all need to learn our own strengths, our weaknesses, our personalities, our leadership styles, and we need to harness them for good. Team Rubicon maybe a beautiful ship but without the right wind, the right crew and the right sails, this boat isn’t going anywhere unless we all learn to tack.

Let the Clay Hunt Fellows of Cohort 4 lead the way over the next 12 months. Jump on board and let’s sail this beautiful ship together!

[1]  Keegan, John (1989). The Price of Admiralty. New York: Viking. p. 281. ISBN 0-670-81416-4
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