Iain Cartwright (ILF2019)


Institution: University of Adelaide
Course: Professional Management Program plus Additional Programs

With the support of the ILF, I attended the Adelaide Business Schools Professional Management program. I spread the study over 18 months commencing in 2019. The modules were split into 2-day intensive blocks this fit with my preferred learning style and worked with my schedule. The program was structured based on core and elective topics each with a follow-up assignment. The capstone workplace-based strategic project and reflective writing piece cemented the learnings and provided me with skills to utilise immediately in my role as Director of Space missions at the scaling telecommunications start-up Myriota.

My growth and direction – Throughout the study, I transitioned from being a subject matter expert, building a team and becoming a business unit owner. Operating with a future-looking perspective. I went about gaining funding for and then completing the PMP program as I recognised that I had an unawareness of some leadership principles that was preventing me from making this transition swiftly, with reduced error and tension. On completion of each module, I would find valuable insights that could be applied effectively immediately but other more complex topics required emotional distance from the event to understand how to apply it more effectively.

Increasing Performance by Leading & Managing People – Evaluating how the way I work and communicate with others had transitioned over the past decade was a realisation of my ability to adaptively change my behaviours for the better. I work to adopt a growth mindset in my life, I feel this is validation that I have become more effective at working with others. I continue to master active listening taking the time to respond rather than react. I work to form a sense of belonging in my team and my place in the organisation and give others the benefit of the doubt. I put space and time between emotionally tied discussions especially when conducted asynchronously via email or other digital means and recognise that saying nothing is perfectly acceptable to later verify the intent of the message especially if I feel impacted by the statements. I test and validate my assumptions in free-flowing communication to work more effectively. I endeavour to fearlessly adopt transparency and apply tough empathy, giving people what they need not what they want.

Negotiation for success – I found this utterly inspiring, that negotiation can be a collaboration across multiple dimensions to the benefit of both parties. I intend to use structured preparation including capturing what is thought to be true vs known and what information gaps are to be filled as tools to commence and conduct negotiation competently and effectively. My role requires periods of negotiation every quarter or half-year. I have used the preparation technique to capture a shared understanding and assumptions and control the negotiation from my organisation’s perspective. I enjoy the exploration. Armed with an ability to gain a global view of the situation I can now balance my organisation’s interests and adapt as the negotiation progresses. I find it inspiring that I can achieve this without a detailed understanding of commercial law and have a better understanding of when to obtain expert legal counsel.

Finance Essentials – I can now communicate my evaluation of the financial aspects of proposals more effectively and concisely. I have confidently proposed arguments for redeployed the budget in my business unit. Efficient and effective communication of finances of a business proposal has enabled me to add more value with the same financial budget and in the time available. I have a heightened awareness of the organisations accounting practices. I use the financial ratios and assessments of financial health to help inform decisions across the organisation.

Business Improvement: Lean Six Sigma Yellow – I had been taught aspects of Lean early in my career so I was interested to learn the current best practices. Profoundly the impact of excessive levels of Work-In-Progress and the negative impact of this. Given the nature of my organisation, I found it challenging to apply the Lean Six Sigma principles process-based tools and techniques directly, I took time to understand the processes to apply the principles. Despite this, the findings of my assignment were adopted bringing about the intended benefits. I frequently design tests on small batches of ultra-sensitive and expensive hardware, tirelessly adopting Lean principles to eliminate the non-value-added waste has led to rapid development progress. Especially when difficult decisions need to be made often in the absence of the ideal data, knowledge and understanding. Given individuals often hold an emotional attachment to gaining closure, I have found transparent direct communication coupled with tough empathy to be very effective.

Project Management Essentials – I have gained a deeper understanding of how to recognise, plan for and manage project dependencies. I found the RASIC model extremely helpful to manage activities when considerable oversight was needed and when there is a great deal of uncertainty in the project formative stages.

Developing a compelling Strategy – I have heightened awareness of the business strategy development process. I used the development of my strategic project to identify an opportunity to grow a key strategic capability for Myriota. I developed a plan directly applying with the benefit of hindsight. This was a difficult process that required significant iteration. My strategic project became a compelling call to action that continues to derive significant and ongoing value for the organisation. I found the ability to create such a plan for change at the business unit level empowering and exciting. 

The combined and aggregated effect – I have improved awareness and skills enabling me to operate at a higher level of work, further and more strategically into the future. My role, skills and experience are better balanced than before I started the study, and it has overall been a highly valuable experience to my professional development.

I thank the ILF for providing me with this opportunity to propel my career growing my capabilities as a leader.