Melbourne Business School News How a leadership program brought two nations closer together

How a leadership program brought two nations closer together

By creating a safe space for open discussion, Melbourne Business School helped officials from Australia and Malaysia gain deeper understanding and insight.

In collaboration with the Melbourne Law School and Malaysia's Razak School of Government, Melbourne Business School recently hosted a study tour for senior Malaysian officials to learn more about leadership, sustainability and Australia's response to COVID-19.

The program welcomed more than 20 senior Malaysian officials, including several from the Prime Minister's department, on a weeklong visit to hear from their Australian government counterparts as well as leading experts in sustainability and policy.

Thanks to the way the program was designed, participants from both countries learned from each other and walked away with new ideas and insights.

“Anyone who is looking for an experience like this, a senior executive immersion experience, can come to us, tell us what it is they’re looking for, and we co-create the program that’s going to meet their needs,” said Principal Consultant Katrina Reynen-Woodward OAM, who helps develop custom solutions for organisations at Melbourne Business School.

"We assemble our world class speakers and friends, friends of the organisation, that can provide an executive experience that is really challenging and really impactful for the people who are here – and provide a really safe space at a very high executive level to have the sorts of conversations that really matter.”

Mark Ryan, Senior Business Development Director at Melbourne Business School, said his team undertook a rigorous discovery program with the Razak School of Government to understand what they wanted Malaysian officials to take away from the program and what areas of government were of most interest to them.

"The program's success was because we worked closely with the Razak School of Government to understand what education and exchanges would be most valuable and relevant. We built the program around their needs," Mr Ryan said.

Fostering international dialogue

Drawing on academia, industry and government, the result was a custom program featuring senior delegates from all levels of government, including the Reserve Bank of Australia, Victorian Government and City of Melbourne.

They were joined by experts from the Centre for Sustainability and Business, Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and Melbourne Law School.

Professor Adam Fennessy, Dean and CEO of ANZSOG, said, as a top-ranked learning institution globally, Melbourne Business School is the right place for developing knowledge and bringing together Malaysian officials and the public servants from across Australia with whom his organisation works.

“We work with the 10 governments. Nine across Australia – states, territories and the Commonwealth – and we work with the Aotearoa New Zealand Government,” Prof Fennessy said.

“So we bring a really good connecting perspective from all of those governments into the participants of the program.”

Gaining new perspectives

The program not only gave Malaysian officials an insight into Australia's approach to various public issues but opened a two-way dialogue between the presenters and delegates.

“What I like to take away from this course is the deeper perspective on what it takes to be having a resilient leadership in a challenging world and to find something that I can take in order to improve governance in the Malaysian public service, using the perspective of the government, the Australian Public Service,” said Dr Abdul Murad Zainal Abidin, a Senior Mechanical Engineer in Malaysia’s Public Works Department.

“By going out, then you will see there are some things that you can do differently.”

For Professor Maria Katsonis, a Public Policy Fellow from the University of Melbourne who delivered two sessions on behavioural public policy, the opportunity to collaborate with other academics and other instructors in designing a cohesive and overall program was invaluable.

“One of the strengths of the partnership between the School of Government and the business school in designing these programs is diversity – diversity of ideas, diversity of perspectives, diversity of faculty,” Prof Katsonis said.

Benefits for all

While designed with participants from the Malaysian government in mind, the way the program was developed ensured that all parties walked away with fresh ideas and value.

“We had people in government speak. We had people from the School of Government speak, as well as participants on the program who are from the Razak School of Government come over and share their experience and their viewpoints,” said Melbourne Business School Program Manager Leia Sheldrick.

Ms Reynen-Woodward said Melbourne Business School's expertise and strong connections to industry, government and the University of Melbourne allowed it to develop a custom program that met the needs of high-level government officials from both countries.

“The biggest benefit and advantage to running these sorts of programs is that we're not only hearing the viewpoints of our facilitators, but they're also hearing the different viewpoints from the participants from government organisations globally,” she said.

“They might be coming over to learn from us, but in the end, we’re all learning from each other.”

For more information about co-creating custom learning experiences at Melbourne Business School, visit our Custom Solutions page.

To find out more about studying at Melbourne Business School, visit our Degree Programs and Short Courses pages, or learn about our range of services For Organisations.

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