A local business professional with extensive experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors has been named director of Memorial University’s Gardiner Centre.
Leigh Puddester was named to the role effective Sept. 11.
Prior to joining Memorial, Mr. Puddester held senior leadership positions in a variety of industries and sectors with companies such as Aliant, Stratos Global, K&D Pratt Group and the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board. Most recently, he was a deputy minister of Service N.L. and procurement reform at the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
“I’ve just always been someone who’s naturally curious about learning.”
Mr. Puddester says it was a lifelong love of learning that piqued his interest in the Gardiner Centre.
“I’ve always loved learning. Every position I’ve gone to has been because there was something different, something I haven’t done before that made it a really interesting opportunity. I’ve just always been someone who’s naturally curious about learning.”
Continuous learning for a changing world
Continuous learning is central to the mission of the Gardiner Centre, which offers management and professional development training to individuals and organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador.
As an outreach unit of the Faculty of Business Administration, the centre also develops and delivers programs that advance the business and leadership knowledge and skills of organizations, as well as existing or aspiring supervisors, managers, executives and entrepreneurs.
“The world is changing so fast that organizations must do everything they can to keep ahead,” Mr. Puddester said.
“As people move through organizations their roles change and often require new skills. Nobody knows it all; you’re not born with, and you don’t come out of school with, every ability, skill or experience that you need to be successful in your career. So, continuing to learn new skills and to pursue every opportunity to learn is really important.
“And if you’re running an organization,” he added, “I think it’s critical that you help people in the organization be the best that they can be.”
‘Out-think, out-smart, out-hustle’
Advancing the skills of employees and leaders is crucial to the success of the province, Mr. Puddester says.
“This province has got a lot of challenges. We’ve got a tiny population and a huge geography, we’re stuck out in the middle of the North Atlantic, which makes it difficult to reach many potential markets. But these same attributes can also offer unique opportunities.”
He says if Newfoundland and Labrador is going to be successful as a province in overcoming those challenges and capitalizing on its opportunities, we need to “out-think, out-smart and out-hustle” other places in Canada and the world that have larger populations and greater economies of scale.
“We need to ensure that we equip our leaders and people working throughout our organizations with the best skills that we can provide to help them be successful,” he said. “And that is what Gardiner Centre is here to do.”
Mr. Puddester graduated from Memorial in 1990 with a bachelor of commerce (co-op.)(hons.) degree before completing a master of business administration degree at Queen’s University in 1991.