On 26 May 2021, LIP took a tour of the Illawarra’s iconic BlueScope site, learning more about what BlueScope does from tour hosts Craig Nealon and Eric Bradley. It was fascinating to see the steel making processes in action as we toured the facility in our protective gear, listening intently to the commentary via the headphone system. Following the tour, we heard from Dave Bell who is BlueScope’s General Manager Manufacturing Australian Steel Products. Dave generously shared his leadership insights and advice on leading through challenging times and maintaining a healthy work life balance in a question and answer session with Debra Murphy.
Some of the key take aways from the talk are captured here:
When leading in challenging times, people become well aligned and able to focus on common goals. BlueScope endured difficult times in 2011 and 2015 due to economic challenges and the key to success during this period was to openly communicate with staff about the realities of the challenges being faced. Staff appreciate their leaders taking the time to meet with them and discuss the issues the staff and business are dealing with and have their leader really hear them. In these times it is important to “say what you will do and do it”. How leaders treat their people is noticed and remembered.
Dave explained how he maintains his authentic self as a leader. Thrown into a leadership role at just twenty-one, it was daunting but he found it fun too. He realised management and leadership was his strength and he deliberately honed his leadership skills by attending courses and absorbing and implementing what was taught, watching others, reading widely, stepping up to volunteer for new challenges, learning from mentors and being open to the vibe of society. Being mindful that you don’t have to be right all the time, “what’s important is the outcome for longevity” of the business.
On maintaining a healthy work and life balance, Dave’s advice was to learn not to “ruminate”, don’t keep thinking and going over in your mind “what if”, “if only” and replaying events in your mind after work, or in the middle of the night. Learn to switch off – this can be done. Being physically healthy and finding something you enjoy like walking, bike riding or martial arts will also force you to think about other things.
On the advice Dave would give his younger self - he would take more calculated risks. When leaders are young, there is time to take these risks, look for roles that might suit you, assess the pros and cons - it could lead to more career advancement than you initially thought possible. The most memorable achievement as a leader was successfully leading the team through a significant technical problem. Dave was able to lead, help and support staff through this difficult period and find important solutions. Looking to the future, Dave is excited about developments in digital technology that will enable the business to enhance its competitiveness.
The LIP attendees thoroughly enjoyed the visit, put simply in the vote of thanks by Gregory Claydon, it was a greatly appreciated opportunity to learn from one of the region’s senior leaders who spoke so openly about the environment leaders operate in and the challenges they face.
Last night we launched the 2021 LIP Mentor program with a training session and meet and greet. Inside Industry at Coniston was buzzing with chatter as our enthusiastic LIP participants embarked on the first of two mentor journeys in the LIP program.
It was a great opportunity for mentees to meet with their mentor for the first time and start getting to know them. Mentor and mentee training was provided for each group, followed by a networking opportunity with wine and canapes.
We look forward to hearing updates on how the mentoring partnerships are going and the key learnings.
On 27 March 2021 the first UOW Master Class for the 2021-2022 Leadership Illawarra Program cohort was presented by Associate Professor Venkat Yanamandram on the topic: Magic of Marketing. The Master Class provided participants with a highly condensed one-day highlights session covering key marketing concepts that will be addressed in the assessment task.
The lecture and discussion covered the definition of marketing in the current environment with an increased focus on technology, globalisation and social responsibility. Participants were then introduced to the value chain, consumer behaviour theory and segmentation, targeting and position concepts. The day concluded with an introduction to branding principles and marketing communication theory, with some fun and memorable examples. The session served as a taste and introduction to proven marketing concepts that Leadership Illawarra Program participants can read up on and explore further before implementing back at their place of work.
Guest presenter Natalie Chapman, Managing Director of gemaker, presented a thought provoking session on how different businesses ‘Died, Survived and Thrived’ during COVID-19. Natalie is a STEM commercialisation and marketing expert who consults with businesses on how to “be ahead of the game and not behind it”, constantly scanning the national and international environment for trends, opportunities and connections. She also took participants through an example of how to incorporate data and evidence based decision making into marketing strategy.
LIP members who submit the assessment task are eligible for specified credit points towards a degree program offered by Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong.
At our first site visit we were privileged to meet awesome authentic leaders, living their values, from Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. And there was plenty to talk about given their rich tapestry of experiences and learnings from COVID, which were openly shared with the Leadership Illawarra Program participants.
On 2nd March 2021 we met the Executive team of Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, including Chief Executive - Margot Mains, Executive Director Nursing & Midwifery & Clinical Governance - Deborah Cameron, Executive Director Strategic Improvement Programs - Gerrard Golding, Executive Director Clinical Operations - Margaret Martin and Director People, Safety & Culture – Raychel Davis.
Each of the individual leaders inspired us in different ways, sharing their insights, experiences and learnings. The hard-working Chief Executive, Margot Mains, had significant international crisis management experience which placed her on a strong footing when COVID hit. Her decisiveness, communication strengths and leadership enabled the ISLHD team to be supported, plan and manage the logistics and people challenges effectively. “Having one message from one source of truth every day was critical to managing during the crisis.”
There were so many take-out messages, too many to mention, but a few are captured here:
Put simply, the LIP attendees were in awe of the ISLHD Executive team. Their open, authentic leadership and individual selves shone through in the site visit, and one attendee said – “great insights from leaders in their field …. already a highlight from the LIP Program”!
The LIP’s aspiring leaders were inspired by a master community leader, Eddy De Gabriele on 24th February 2021. Eddy is the Chair of Regional Development Australia (Illawarra) and by the end of his term in 2025 he will have lead the community and served in this capacity for 20 years. And that’s just scratching the surface of Eddy’s leadership journey, which includes outstanding achievements with Edmen, Football South Coast and his current business endeavours.
Eddy shared his passionate thoughts on leadership with the LIP, in an engaging and stimulating presentation. The factors of leadership, behaviours and ingredients for successful leadership were all discussed. He also imparted the key to successful leadership with the cohort, being YOU!
A favourite quote from Martin Luther King Jr was “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
One of the cohort mentioned afterwards that they were ‘still buzzing’. It’s fair to say that the LIP participants enjoyed the thought-provoking discussion on the differences between a boss and a leader and were thoroughly inspired by Eddy’s leadership journey and plethora of stories.
Blog posts written by the Leadership Illawarra Program Cohort.