Rebecca Baylis (ILF2011)

Institution: University of Adelaide
Course: Professional Management Program

Institution: Cranfield University (UK)
Course: Safety Assess. of Aircraft Systems

Thank you to the Industry Leaders Fund (ILF) for making such a series of unique opportunities a reality!

I was very fortunate to be awarded a grant in 2011, to undertake a technical speciality course, and a leadership course. As an aeronautical engineer who is moving into more management and leadership roles, it was important for me to find a balance between technical and professional skills, and I thank the ILF board for guiding me in the decision.

In 2012, I visited Cranfield University in the United Kingdom, to study their highly respected Aircraft Systems Safety Course and Applied Safety Assessment of Aircraft Systems over two weeks. Systems safety and failure mode analysis were of interest to me working in the highly regulated civil aviation industry, and the Cranfield course did not disappoint. With other course delegates hailing from all over the world, representing some of the major aircraft manufacturers and industry regulators, not only was it a chance to develop technical skills, but also communication skills – the team projects over the two weeks were a great exercise in cooperation, leadership and collaboration. The Cranfield course has equipped me not only with specific technical skills and tools to conduct system safety work in the aviation industry, but also allowed me to develop transferable skills and experience that my employer is keen to utilise in a range of different industries.

Whilst I had intended to undertake a professional leadership skills course in late 2012, my company, Nova Systems recognised my interest in extending my technical and leadership skills, and sent me to Bournemouth in the UK, to spend 12 months on secondment at our sister company BAC. It was a steep learning curve – not only did I need to quickly learn the workings of a new business, new processes and a new team, but also learn a new regulatory structure under EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency). I am so very grateful to Nova for such a unique opportunity to learn and grow in a very different environment.

I am also very thankful to the ILF Board for allowing me to delay using my grant for 12 months whilst I was in the UK. Upon my return to Australia at the end of 2013, the Board provided advice, recommendations and support as I worked through the options for how to extend my professional skills. I was excited to select a one week intensive course at Mt Eliza, the New Leaders Development Program (NLDP).

The NLDP at Mt Eliza was a perfect fit for me; it built on the skills I have in project and team management, and helped me delve into my own personal learning and leadership styles. I left feeling more confident in myself, my abilities, and, as strange as it sounds, I even have more confidence in my weaknesses because I have the tools and techniques to be able to recognise and work with those areas of improvement.

Some of the one-on-one conversations I had with the other NLDP participants were just as valuable as the course notes I took home at the end of the week; we have established strong friendships and connections which are proving to be invaluable now we have returned to work and need a sounding board for issues and ideas. The course facilitators even commented on how incredible they had found us as a group; our openness, willingness to share, and show vulnerability. I truly believe I had a unique learning experience at Mt Eliza, and would not have had such an opportunity if it weren’t for the ILF grant.

I have returned to work brimming with ideas, armed with goals, and backed by a great support network. Whilst I might not be an expert in System Safety, or a senior leader in the business at this time, I can confidently say that every day I am using and further developing those technical and leadership skills which Cranfield and Mt Eliza taught me, and the ILF made possible.

My Industry Leaders Fund grant has opened so many doors, and I whole heartedly encourage anyone who has a passion for leadership and wants to challenge themselves to be better and do more, please apply.