Steve ToddI had been working for my current company for a little over two years when the business owner placed in front of me an article he had seen about the Industry Leaders Fund, and we commenced a discussion about whether this could be of any benefit to both me and the company. Whilst the Managing Director is a keen advocate of professional development the realities of working in small and medium enterprises is that often cash is tight and some of the courses aimed at senior managers are difficult to afford.

The course of applying for a grant was a useful exercise in itself. Having already successfully undertaken an MBA, any training we considered would have to be at a suitable professional level in terms of content, but also useful to my employer in execution of the current strategy. The process of research and consideration led to many interesting and valuable discussions within the company before a joint decision to try and get support for attending the Company Directors Course run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors was made.

The application process was an exercise in cementing and clarifying all the discussions that led to the application, culminating in a challenging and enjoyable interview process.

Having now taken the course over a five day period it is a pleasure to say the decision was the right one. The course is a challenge (there is a lot of material to get through before the course itself and to revise for the exam), but was a rewarding experience. The course is presented by a wide range of very professional and open individuals who are prepared to give the course the benefit of their experience. The course is presented in an engaging manner with a good mix of theoretical and practical exercises with lots of opportunity for participants to discuss the issues presented in a safe and positive environment. In addition, the participants of the course were all living and working in South Australia which gave the course a unique local flavour and led to many interesting discussions about the local business environment and challenges. There is no doubt that by the end of the week my understanding of the pressures and responsibilities facing Directors had increased dramatically.

Whilst my company does not yet have a board, I consider that the course content has already been useful in terms of considering the company strategy, risk profile, and management. It will impact on the way we manage and monitor the company in the future. I am also convinced that the course has allowed me to develop as an individual, and has broadened my outlook with regard to my current employer, and also other potential career paths.

I believe South Australia has a set of unique opportunities and challenges facing it, but has every chance of continuing to be a vibrant and successful state with a great lifestyle offered to those who choose to make it their home. For this to happen, it needs business and societal leaders who have the skills and drive to take the opportunities when they arise. The Industry Leaders Fund is a fantastic concept that supports the development of such leaders, and should be applauded for its efforts to fund and train the local leaders of the future. I would recommend that those who see a need to develop themselves and their careers in a local context give it every consideration. I am very grateful for the opportunity it gave me to do just, that and hope that I can reward the investment in the near future.