On Tuesday, 12 December the LIP concluded our 2023 activities with a powerful session on "Networking for Success," led by RDA Illawarra CEO, Debra Murphy. The event not only underscored the significance of networking but also offered valuable insights into crafting meaningful connections for personal and professional advancement.
Debra initiated the session by posing a fundamental question: "Why should you network?" With her wealth of experience, she emphasised that success is intricately tied to the relationships we cultivate. Networking, goes beyond a mere exchange of details; it involves 'planting seeds' that may or may not flourish and creating a network that can unlock doors to opportunities, collaborations, and insights that might otherwise remain unseen.
The session covered essential aspects of networking, including how to prepare for events, event goal setting, and developing a compelling elevator pitch. The significance of body language in networking was also explored. Following this, participants had the chance to put their new-found skills into practice, refining their abilities in real-time.
To cap off the year, LIP program mentors and alumni joined the end of year celebration, offering additional opportunities to hone networking skills. Participants shared their insights gained from the session - recognising the role of networking in shaping personal brands, deciphering non-verbal cues for open or closed conversations, and understanding the importance of managing energy levels during interactions.
As 2023 comes to a close, RDA Illawarra and the Leadership Illawarra Program extend warm wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward our next event in early 2024.
On 28 November, the LIP organised a forum focused on Sustainability and Renewable Energy, bringing together both current participants and alumni. The event showcased insightful presentations by guest speakers Ty Christopher, Director of Energy Futures Network at UOW, and Dr Clayton McDowell, UOW’s Associate Director of Sustainability.
The presentations delved into UOW’s various sustainability initiatives, assessing their performance against targets, and emphasised their commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. Ty Christopher provided a comprehensive overview in his presentation, "Energy Grids 101," covering the evolution from traditional one-way electricity generation to the complexities of the modern electricity grid with multi-way power flows. This breakdown made the intricate subject accessible to the entire audience. Ty also explained the relative efficiency, advantages, and disadvantages of solar, offshore wind, onshore wind, hydrogen, and nuclear energy in both the Illawarra and Australian contexts, providing expert insights into a topic that has been very popular in the Illawarra in recent months.
Following the presentations, a panel discussion was held with the presenters and LIP participants Dr Leela Kempton and Isabelle Ghetti. Facilitated by Debra Murphy, the discussion allowed for a deeper exploration of the LIP’s key questions and provided valuable insights into the role individuals can play in championing sustainability in their workplaces and homes.
Dr Leela Kempton further enriched the experience by leading a tour of UOW’s Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC), an award-winning ultra-low energy building internationally acclaimed for its efficiency and restoration efforts. The SBRC aims to lead in generating ideas and solutions to address the challenge of transforming buildings to be sustainable, resilient, and effective.
Our sincere thanks go to the presenters, panel members, SBRC for hosting us, and Dr Leela Kempton for coordinating the visit. A vote of thanks was delivered by David Ferri on behalf of the LIP, expressing personal commitment to sustainability initiatives and highlighting new-found inspiration and actionable steps that can be taken in our workplaces and communities. The event served as a valuable opportunity for all attendees to deepen their understanding of sustainability and renewable energy while fostering connections with alumni and presenters for potential future collaborations.
Our presenters and RDA Illawarra have compiled a list of recommended information sources, available here.
UOW hosted the second of three Master Classes on Saturday 4 November, presented by John Hesketh on Leadership. John shared with the LIP his wealth of international leadership experience, built from his career that started in engineering and progressed to various roles as Managing Director, Principal Consultant, Project Director and now Doctoral Researcher for Sydney Business School - University of Wollongong.
We were given a brief history of leadership theories, highlighting the shift over time from theories focussed on individuals and their power influence to the collective leadership theories of more recent years. We then examined today’s leadership challenges, reviewed the characteristics of different leadership styles including visionary, coaching, democratic, pacesetting, commanding and affiliative.
In pairs, the LIP undertook an 'immunity to change' exercise, drilling down on a leadership goal they identified as something they would like to improve. The exercise yielded some surprising, confronting and invaluable results.
The LIP enjoyed taking a day to explore leadership theory in more depth through an academic lens, breaking down goals and deriving and assessing their assumptions through the immunity to change class exercise. The Master Class was also a great introduction to the modern leadership styles required for success in today’s environment, leading during ambiguous and uncertain times and the importance of responsible leadership.
The LIP were hosted by Shellharbour City Council this week at Shellharbour Airport where we enjoyed a tour of The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Aviation Museum and had a leadership discussion with Mayor Chris Homer and Chief Executive Officer Mike Archer. The group were joined by Wayde Peterson, Executive Director Business Enterprises, Paul Ferguson, Shellharbour Airport Manager and Kristi Barrett, Learning and Development Team Leader who supported our visit.
Mike Archer shared an overview of Shellharbour City Council’s strategy including goals for tourism, facilities and asset management. There are exciting plans for the future, with major regional and city-wide projects in development for the growing area, like improved airport and transport links, performing arts, sport and community facilities.
The leadership discussion centred on the Mayor and CEO’s unique leadership journeys including their previous roles and challenges they have faced. The LIP appreciated the opportunity to learn about how Shellharbour City Council works, the Councillor roles and business units and how they are integrated with the organisation’s strategic vision. A fruitful Q and A session followed and it was highlighted for the LIP that sometimes they will land in opportunities - be ready to embrace them, have self-belief and take one day at a time.
Huge thank you to the HARS team including Events Manager Sherryl Sherson and Bob De La Hunty OAM, President and Chief Pilot for arranging and hosting our visit. Thank you to HARS volunteers Doug, Warwick and Richard for enthusiastically guiding us around the impressive museum and event facility that many of us had not been to before. We will certainly be back with family and friends to explore further and learn more about the Illawarra’s diverse aviation history.
Thank you to Natasha Debsieh, for delivering a vote of thanks on behalf of the LIP and summarising all that we had learned in a fast-paced afternoon.
Images by Alison Turner and RDA Illawarra
The LIP visited Mercer this week for a tour of their impressive new facilities and a leadership discussion hosted by Client and Member Services Leader and LIP Alumni Matthew Bailey. The new workspaces, modelled on those in Mercer’s parent company Marsh McLellan’s overseas sites including New York and the United Kingdom contain up to the minute technology and meeting spaces. The hot-desk and locker system has enabled the adoption of an efficient hybrid work model and has been coupled with five-star hotel inspired interior decorating and amazing views of Wollongong in all directions.
Matthew shared the story of his leadership journey with the business, spanning over 15 years from previous roles at Coniston based Pillar Administration to Mercer who acquired the business in 2016.
Matt explained Mercer’s strategy and values and how the organisation fits with the parent company, US based Marsh McLellan and its other international businesses Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman.
Through a series of leadership questions and answers we learned more about Matthew’s leadership priorities and personal strategies including:
Thank you to Sarah Ockenden, LIP participant and Mercer Customer Services Lead for arranging our visit and Lucy Timpano for delivering a vote of thanks on behalf of the LIP. Lucy thanked Matthew for bringing in focus the ‘imposter syndrome’ many of us suffer from and providing extra encouragement to back ourselves as we go forward with our careers.
Greenacres generously hosted the LIP for a site visit and leadership discussion on 18 July. We toured Greenacres Enterprises led by Chief Executive Officer, Chris Christodoulou, Chief Commercial Officer Audra Tuckwood, and Chief Operations Officer Grant Vukasinovic. Greenacres is one of the leading disability service providers in the region, providing services and programs for over 600 people from 24 sites and this year is proudly celebrating its 70th year.
In small groups we visited Greenacres Enterprises sites and met some of the participants working in the e-waste centre, packaging, labelling, industrial sewing and were amazed at the art being created in the art program. Following the tour, the LIP were treated to sweet treats and savoury platters supplied by the Brewing Up a Storm hospitality program.
CEO Chris Christodoulou then shared his vision and passion for providing meaningful employment for people with a disability in the region. The LIP learned about the Kickstart for Life program, which supports people aged 15 to 18 to learn vocational skills, open employment versus supported employment, the history of Greenacres and the current business model.
The LIP appreciated Chris sharing how he empowers the Executive team, how his earlier career experiences in the union movement have shaped his career and his approach to work-life balance. We were all impressed by the breadth of work Greenacres is involved in and will definitely be checking out the Greenacres Shop website next time we need to arrange a gift or corporate hamper.
Special thanks to Aleisha Brooke-Smith, LIP participant and Greenacres Head of Marketing and Business Development for arranging our visit, and Mimma Peppoloni LIP Alumni and Operations Manager at Greenacres for supporting the visit. Alison Turner from Flagstaff delivered a vote of thanks on behalf of the LIP, acknowledging Chris’s significant contribution to the disability sector in the region.
Blog posts written by the Leadership Illawarra Program.