Don Sandev Ferdinando, Secretary General of PHESMUN, Reflects on QLC16


  1. Why is the Qatar Leadership Conference important to you and can you summarise your experience at this year conference?

This year’s QLC has once again succeeded in leaving me awe inspired; whether it was the plenary speeches from Andrew Mills, Khalid Al Ameri and Cairo Arafat or the presentations from students and adults who –through their stories of perseverance and courage in ‘facing your fears’ – managed to instil in me a passion to strive towards change through leadership. As this is my second year presenting at the QLC, I’ve grown in my abilities immensely and realize the importance of this unique space to get to know global MUN / Media leaders.

Taking knowledge acquired through MUN and utilising it on a global or regional scale outside of the classroom, is what I continue to do with the foundation set by both myself and others. The QLC is one of the largest platforms for individuals from all walks of life who’ve excelled in this field to showcase their progress and achievements. The Director of Online-MUN, the Founders of the first MUN program in Afghanistan, students who’ve organised conferences at the UN Headquarters, organised protests in Egypt and started their own business relating to regional peace and collaboration based in Palestine, are some of the people I’ve had the opportunity of interacting with. Through the years, I’ve also been lucky enough to call them my friends and it is their vision and dedication that shapes and inspires me to this day.


  1. You presented a workshop on “the Deep Web” this year; what kind of difficulties does one face when running a workshop and what led to its popularity?

Some difficulties I’ve faced are coming up with an idea for a session that is engaging, informative and relevant and ensuring that it – in some way – enacts change within every member of the audience. I was joined by two other outstanding PHES presenters, Marene Van Wyk and Adeena Ali, so the difficulties faced along the way became a shared burden and a learning curve. Staying calm and collected before the session begins is the final, yet the most challenging hurdle to overcome. A worry that every presenter has, no matter how experienced you are, is whether anyone will come to your session or not.

With that in mind, it was a pleasant surprise when we found it difficult to even enter our room with the crowd outside! The unconventional topic of the Deep and Dark web is what led the session to become so popular. Its relevance to leadership and questions on what it was in general prompted participants to come and check it out. We explored how terrorist organisations recruit and communicate on the dark web, the prevalence of human trafficking and the phenomenon of the Bitcoin amongst other things. We all had a goal of going above and beyond presenting a standard presentation – in other words, what was expected – in hopes of conveying the message of how instable and unpredictable the dark web can be. We found this topic to be especially relevant as this is a pressing issue that we, as future leaders have to solve, yet it barely has any coverage on an international framework.


  1. What advice would you give to PHES students who will go on to either become participants or presenters at QLC?


Remember that in order for new opportunities to present themselves to you, you must be willing to take that first leap of faith in the ‘direction of your fears’. Use your time at the QLC constructively; network and get to know other people’s stories, and don’t be afraid to share your own as well. The idea of leadership will undoubtedly come up continuously during each session, but it is important to know that a leader isn’t someone who you’d become a few years down the road, embrace the fact that you’re a leader today and don’t let your age, gender and what other people tell you convince you otherwise.


Article on Don Sandev Ferdinando, PHESMUN SG, Reflects on QLC16

By PHESMUN Press (Shared on this blog with permission)