Scots Collegian Hanan Laban [ 2000 – 2004]
It’s no surprise that Hanan Laban has been drawn to a leadership role in rugby. He grew up in a family with a long association with the sport; and community and political leadership has also been prevalent through the generations.
His father is well-known rugby commentator, and local and regional councillor, Scots Collegian Ken Laban [1971-1973], and his grandfathers and great grandfathers enjoyed playing the game in Samoa, where they also were community leaders.
Hanan is Chief Executive Officer at Wynnum Manly Seagulls RLFC in Australia. He credits his upbringing, and his education and experiences at Scots College, as being instrumental in preparing him for the challenges he faces in his current role.
In fact, Hanan’s first leadership role was as Head Prefect in 2004*.
That same year saw him playing for the Wellington Rugby League team as well as Rugby Union, which led to him winning a scholarship to the Newcastle Knights Rugby Football League Club. He left the morning after his Yr13 Final Dinner to go straight to training for the Under 20 squad.
Unfortunately, Hanan never made the top squad but the scholarship enabled him to gain a conjoint degree in Business and Economics University of Newcastle and earn a salary. Another upside was that Hanan boarded with Michael Hill (not the jeweller!) but Chairman of the Newcastle Knights while at university, and he has been a major influence and mentor for Hanan.
Hanan played rugby as a professional for a year in Avignon, France and subsequently signed a semi-professional contract with the Brisbane Broncos, an affiliate of the Seagulls. During that time, Hanan worked full time in Institutional Banking at Westpac for six years.
Although Hanan loved his time with Westpac, he came to realise that his passion lay in sport and he started to get involved with coaching and leadership at the Club.
Not long afterwards, the CEO of the Wynnum Manly Seagulls resigned so, despite his relative youth, Hanan applied for the job and got it! He feels fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time as jobs in sports administration are very hard to find, the industry is narrow and there are few opportunities.
Hanan loves that he’s involved in providing young people with a career and an elite pathway. Many of them are from low socio-economic backgrounds; they may not have much education or support at home so sport gives them structure, to work hard and a purpose. It’s a chance for them to live their dream. The players feed into the Broncos as the Seagulls are their development arm.
Hanan says the Club focuses on players’ welfare and wellbeing, both while playing and to help them with the transition from rugby when the time comes. Sport can have a huge impact on communities, it brings them together and it is built on volunteers. The Club ensures players put time back into the community as, put simply – without the community, there are no fans and no audience.
There are big personal challenges too:
Leadership is constantly evolving, learning, developing. What is leadership? How do/should leaders act? How to ensure communication is appropriate and at the right time?
Hanan has learnt the importance of honest, genuine conversation and relationships, and the importance of changing the ingrained behaviours that don’t align with the Club’s values.
He credits good mentors with helping him on his leadership journey, particularly Michael Hill and Paul White, the CEO of the Broncos and, of course, his education at Scots College.
Hanan had a great time at Scots and he feels fortunate to have had the opportunities, facilities and teachers that were available there. He says students and staff were genuine, they cared about each other, and about your development. “At Scots, learning was a focus – everyone was there to learn, there were no behaviourial problems so we were given the best chance possible.”
A highlight for Hanan was in 2002, when Scots won the Quad for the first time. Ian McKinnon was there in support and it certainly helped having Victor Vito in the team!
“It was fantastic to witness the pride engendered in the school.”
Hanan still keeps up with his school friends on social media, many of whom are all over the world e.g. Andy Sauu (Sydney), Victor Vito (France), Sam Fogel (UK), Reed Roberts (UK).
Hanan and his wife met at university and both feel strongly about education; so much so that she is a teacher.
And Hanan has some advice for current students:
- Soak up every opportunity that Scots has on offer. You’re very fortunate.
- Whether it is music, sport or education enjoy it, build strong relationships with your cohort, they are the best years of your life and will serve you well in later life.
- In the workforce; understand your passions, have a go and don’t hold back!
- Be honest and genuine with your communications in your personal life and in business.
- Be transparent and upfront, that way you will be the best.
*(His younger brother Luke followed in his footsteps becoming Head Prefect in 2008 – making them one of only two sets of Head Prefect brothers in Scots’ History. The others being Henry (2015) and Jack  Mexted.)