A scholarship from the Industry Leaders Fund (ILF) supported me in attending the residential Leadership Development Program held at the Melbourne Business School’s Mt Eliza campus from December 1st to 5th, 2014. My primary motivations for attending this program included:
1. gaining new and emerging insights related to leadership that could assist me in transitioning from middle to senior management
2. broadening my perspectives and network of contacts by attending a leadership course outside of Adelaide.
I believe that the Leadership Development Program assisted with both of these objectives.
The program employed a number of tools to provide personal insight, included a number of simulation exercises, introduced and provided substantial feedback via a structured approach, used individual and group coaching, and developed an action plan for me as an individual. Importantly, further follow up coaching sessions and e-learning support are also provided for me post-course.
I felt that the course participants all had a high level of experience and made good contributions. The participants came from a diversity of backgrounds – farming, government, publishing, media, law, finance, and construction. There was a reasonable number of attendees from New Zealand, one person from New Caledonia, and the rest from Australia, primarily Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, with one person from Perth, with me the only attendee from Adelaide and from the Defence sector.
I also feel that a strong bond has been formed between participants, and this will offer advantages to me into the future, including new markets such as oil and gas for the unmanned (robotic) boats that I am working on. A frequent comment from many participants after the group coaching session was also that despite the different industries we work in, there were a lot of common problems we each faced, and more importantly the group was able to provide a lot of insights and suggestions for dealing with these problems. This network and collaborative spirit, sounding board, or personal ‘advisory board’ if you like, I think will be invaluable.
In terms of the two facilitators, Senior Fellow Clarence Da Gama Pinto and Dr Steven Bannon offered a wealth of experience and insight from their own careers and time with the Leadership Development Program. Clarence Da Gama Pinto, the Director of the Program, commenced at LDP16, while the course I attended was LDP235. I also particularly liked Dr Bannon’s sports industry insights, as that is a very different industry to those I have worked in.
On my attendance Clarence wrote:
“South Australia’s Industry Leader Fund is an exemplar organisation committed to developing the state’s leadership and entrepreneurial bench strength. Over the years, the ILF has sent many talented leaders to MBS Mt Eliza and this December was no exception. Derek Rogers from Saab demonstrated great integrity and intelligence in his interaction with his peers. He presented his points of view by always keeping the company and team members’ interests in mind. Derek has strong intellectual and physical presence and has learned that less is more in this area. A quick learner, he began to engage with the group by sharing his life experience both professionally and also his passion for global travel and photography. This holistic approach inspired the group and confirms the Centre for Creative Leadership’s research that effective leaders have a variety of interests that enhances their leadership capability.”
“Derek’s peers and facilitators look forward to following his career star as he brings a formidable head and a great heart to the workplace.”
Now, whilst it is still early days post the course, I do believe that attendance will be very useful in my immediate activities and my long-term career development with the ultimate goal of what I term “sustainable senior management”. Note, in discussions with my allocated LDP coach, we have teased this out to be consistent with what Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, published by Harper Collins, 2001, refers to as Level 5 leadership: something I have always aspired to after reading this book, or as Robert Greenleaf has also termed Servant-Leadership.
I have no hesitation in recommending the LDP course and the wider Mt Eliza program to others, and more importantly, I am hoping to complete other relevant courses at some stage in the future: reflective of a comment made by Dr Da Gama Pinto that it is worthwhile to do such study every 12 to 18 months to keep yourself sharp. Finally though, I really thank the ILF for their generosity and this opportunity, and if you thought I was passionate about becoming a great South Australian leader beforehand, then I am even more so now. I mightn’t show it, I might be a little different to others, but I’m keen to do it – build a great state with a world class Industry.