Gregory Stevens (ILF2019)


Institution: University of South Australia
Course: Master of Business Administration

After completing the first leg of UniSA’s MBA program, the Graduate Certificate in Business Administration, I was incredibly grateful for the help from the Industry Leaders Fund in accelerating this study. The organisation essentially expedited my study plan between 3-5 years.

Shortly after moving from an engineering management role at a global heating products company to a general management position at a local aerospace manufacturer, I found myself challenged when trying to transform a business with limited experience. Making important decisions based on semi-relatable experiences and gut instinct was a sure recipe for making expensive mistakes. I needed to improve my front-end business skills asap, and with around $25K owing in university fees, a home loan, and a young family – I was not terribly excited about the prospect of taking on more debt. Fortunately, a quick Google search introduced me to the ILF.

On top of their generous financial support, the ILF application process also helped me reflect on career ambitions and pathway plans. Board members and the CEO critically assessed my professional skillset, delved into career goals, and guided me through the development of a strategic study plan. The organisation suggested several MBA programs which aligned with my core study objectives; to improve my business management skillset and expand my local professional network.

Despite the appeal of studying at one of the Ivy League universities, an MBA at a local university ticked more boxes. In addition to being able to tailor a personalised study plan and access their strategic networking opportunities, the UniSA program offered the Australian Institute of Company Director (AICD) Company Director Course as final year elective (otherwise known as a capstone topic). With a previous interest in completing this course, coupled with the universities focus on afterwork networking – the decision to enroll in UniSA’s MBA was an easy one.

The program began by teaching Strategic Thinking which covers the fundamentals for building a sustainable enterprise. From there I needed to choose 10 topics from a list of 15 in any order, before finishing with a capstone topic. Prior to beginning the second topic I had to negotiate a major defence contract without any formal training. This exposed another shortcoming and motivated me to study Negotiation next. When undertaking my next contract negotiation, I was certainly thankful to have completed this topic early in the program as it enabled me to operate more knowledgeably and confidently.

By the third topic I was feeling positive about my grasp of strategy and sales but needed to address gaps in the marketing department. Strategic Marketing taught me how to derive marketing objectives from situational analysis frameworks, to extrapolate marketing tactics and develop implementation plans. To round out the Graduate Certificate (first four MBA topics) – studying Ethics, Governance & Sustainability provided a diverse overview of progressive practices and introduced a multiplicity of performance assessment tools.

Naively, before applying for an ILF grant, I was under the impression financial assistance was the main benefit the organisation provided. I now realise this was just the beginning of an amazing journey the ILF offers, which has enabled me to grow as a leader in business. Through their introduction to likeminded businesspeople and entrepreneurs, I am better connected with local industry and ultimately more capable of contributing to local economic growth.

I am truly grateful, both personally and professionally, to have joined this esteemed network as a 2019 Scholar. Thank you ILF.