Simon Ridgway (ILF2011)

Institution: Harvard Business School (USA)
Course: General Management Program

Simon Ridgway was awarded an Industry Leaders Fund grant in 2012 to attend the General Management Program at Harvard Business School. After completing this program he wrote:

Without the generous support of the Industry Leaders Fund I would not have been able to pursue the opportunity to attend Harvard Business School. After 23 years working with ASC on submarine construction, submarine maintenance and ship construction, and completing various tertiary qualifications, I was looking for a way to enhance my skills and knowledge to support my ambition to become a General Manager at ASC. The Industry Leaders Fund grant provided me with this opportunity. In 2012 I was promoted to the role of General Manager – Air Warfare Destroyer Production and given responsibility for AWD ship construction in multiple shipyards.

I was particularly impressed by the simplicity of the process for applying for a grant with the Industry Leaders Fund and the professional conduct of the interview panel. The application process is straightforward and easy to navigate. I would encourage other leaders and future leaders within South Australia to apply for an Industry Leaders Fund grant.

Harvard Business School conducts the General Management Program over six months in five modules. The first module is conducted remotely, with a focus on understanding the Harvard case method of study and ensuring students understand financial statements. Module two is conducted in Boston with around 100 students from around the world. For six days a week, students work on three or four case studies each day at an individual level, syndicate level and in classes of around 50 people. This module focuses on the fundamentals of business with real cases looking at marketing, finance, negotiation, operations, human resources, business strategy and innovation. The quality of instruction and the Harvard Business School professors was the best I have experienced. The third module occurs remotely and involves the development of a case study on your own leadership challenge. This case study is then analysed in detail back in Boston at the start of module four. Module four continues with cases studies for six days per week on technology, international business and leadership. During the residential modules there were many social activities to ensure a continuous high level of interaction between very diverse course members. Module five is undertaken remotely and includes reflection and consolidation of learning material. The General Management Program is intensive and has a very high tempo that I found extremely challenging and personally rewarding. There were many opportunities for reflection and personal feedback with the aim of improved personal growth.

I found the General Management Program at Harvard Business School to be a truly transformational experience that left me prepared and feeling confident to work at the General Management level. My learning was greatly enhanced, and I now have an international network of professional friends that I remain engaged with. The experience at HBS has changed my life and my perspective on life. In many ways this experience has further fuelled my ambition and desire to achieve greater things and I now live by the motto ‘comfort is the enemy of growth’. In 2013 I will return to Harvard Business School for a one-week class reunion.

I am grateful for the opportunity to attend Harvard Business School made possible by the generosity of the Industry Leaders Fund. South Australians should be proud of the valuable work being undertaken by the Industry Leaders Fund in developing the talent of South Australia’s industry leaders.