Ken Waldron became involved in commercial mediation working between businesses and financiers as far back as the early 1990s. During his journey, he found himself holding executive positions in several large companies and later went into consulting where he specialized in the agribusiness sector. For the last 20 years through his entrepreneurial skills, Ken has founded businesses in both China and Australia.
Liaising Business Skills to Mediation
Ken has enjoyed assisting companies, businesses, and people in resolving disputes. So much so that he went back to school in 2016 and completed a masters in conflict management and resolution at James Cook University. He later discovered MBBI and he values the concept and its brand position of employing alternative dispute methods to resolve conflict internationally. He encapsulated his strong feeling towards mediation by attending the MBBI Peace Conference 2017 in the Hague, Netherlands.
Ken explained that he engages actively with MBBI for several salient reasons. He sees the emerging need for the principles of alternative dispute resolution in the Oceania region, which has led him to become active in the creation of the MBBI regional chapter there. Oceania has a unique set of issues; one of which Ken has identified as revolving around climate change challenges. With his accreditation in mediation, education in conflict management, and experience working across facilitation and negotiations, he sees the contribution he can make by applying his business building skills to the new chapter. He notes that most people “are motivated by doing good, but on its own isn’t going to build an effective organization.” This is where he believes he can apply his skills and contribute the most.
A Powerful Vehicle for Peaceful Resolution
Currently, the Oceania working group is composed of three members who are reaching out to the local ADR community and university students about MBBI activities. He stated that “If people are part of something that is important and beneficial, they will always find the time to commit.” Ken values the importance of having training programs on conflict management and resolution in schools. He indicated that “If we empowered the young people in our region with the skills to solve conflict through dialogue and mediation, we would make a powerful difference into the future.” For him, MBBI is in an ideal organization to teach these skills to the next generation of emerging leaders. He believes if you learn skills such as mediation at an early age these skills will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Independent of MBBI, Ken is actively involved with the climate change movement. As recently as June, he was a mentor at the Brisbane Climate Reality Training of 800 new climate ambassadors organized by former US vice president Al Gore. He observes that climate is going to be one of the major determinants of future conflict. “Even if we were to change the policies immediately and start to bring the climate crisis back under control; the momentum is such that nations and countries and communities are still going to be affected by it.” He gave the example of the Torres Strait Islands just in the north of Australia which is already losing land. The islands are very low lying and the rise in sea level has resulted in losing hundreds of acres. It is a very real issue “If communities lose land, you’ve immediately got disruption. Once you’ve got disruption, you’ve got conflict,” he stated as a matter of fact. Ken affirmed that whether it is climate change caused by man or just natural change, he understands the consequences of it. One of his agribusiness interests is in an area that is drought-prone. “We have water licenses but no water. Any water we can access is geared up for a contest between neighbors who want it just as much as us.”
Ken shared his conflict resolution philosophy expressing that when mediating, it is important to grasp that “you are negotiating or facilitating people to understand the circumstances and the meanings and implications too – so you become a player, you remain neutral, but you become a player.” To resolve a conflict, one needs more than just mediation skills, negotiation and facilitation skills play crucial roles too. Ken’s philosophy is: mediation is a metaphor for finding a peaceful or dialogue-based solution to dispute, conflict or disruption.
Article by Kylea Shropshire, MBBI Writer