On Tuesday, November 26, the LEAP club held their annual LEAP Conference at the Teatro Luchana in Madrid. This year, the conference focused on answering the questions “What is a ‘Maverick’?” and “How can I be one?”. Through four unique speakers and 2 compelling workshops, the LEAP conference answered these questions with a straightforward message: Be different, be yourself.

 

In an interview during the event, the President of LEAP, Shrey Regmi, explained his reasoning for choosing the theme Maverick. “We had a speaker called Lorent Saleh,” he said, “but he had only been released from intensive Venezuelan jail 32 days before that event”. Lorent had “led a student party” and been “imprisoned and tortured for five years,” epitomizing a Maverick – someone who goes against the norms even if it means torture and nearly death.

The speakers started off with Shiva Roofeh, a contradiction in the flesh. An Iraian-American, Jewish-Muslim refugee, born in Iran before fleeing to Italy and eventually the US, she uses her platform to teach people “how to not be assholes”. She related her personal experiences – the secret police almost arresting her parents, her rejection by nuns at Catholic school, and the islamophobia of post-9/11 America. Her point was simple; to be a Maverick is to know what drives you.

The second speaker, Andrea Vermehren, spoke on her experiences working at the World Bank in social protection. Her speech focused on the question “when to go alone or together”. A successful Maverick, she argued, is someone who can find a community to follow them. Don’t allow fear to control you, and if you go with your gut, find allies to go with you.

 

The conference then split up into two workshops, presented by IE Professors Oscar Martinez and Carlos Pallero. Oscar Martinez gave a workshop on inequality, and Carlos Pallero’s workshop focused on facing challenges head-on.

After a short break, two more speakers presented their stories on being a Maverick. First came British comedian Sadia Azmat, whose raunchy presentation taught us to “be selfish, in a good way”. A Maverick, she argued, is someone unique and always “on the grind” to reach success. 

 

Lastly, Juan Pablo di Pace talked about his time as an actor and singer. For many years, he said, he felt unworthy. This came to a low point when he appeared naked on a London Metro advertisement. However, after realizing the happiness his work could bring, he decided to recommit himself to his work. He argued that “words are like universes, and we are like magicians,” creating these universes. A Maverick creates their own universe to bring the world forward.

 

It’s safe to say this LEAP conference ended with success. “We weren’t expecting such a big turnout from Segovia,” Regmi explained, and “over 110 people” attended this conference. Tickets sold out, and attendance was high. The conference had great speakers, a beautiful venue (some arguing its superiority to Irish), and good vibes all around. Three months of hard work from the LEAP team certainly paid off.