Read our feature interview with Julia Burns who we placed as General Manager for Organisational Learning and Development with Challenger Institute of Technology. Read on as Julia explains how the Organisational Development function at Challenger is responsible for developing people and creating opportunities where they can experiment and implement new ideas.
1. Can you describe your organisation and your role within the company?
Challenger Institute of Technology is a registered training provider that delivers over 350 courses to over 19,000 students in 14 locations. It also delivers on-shore and off-shore industry training through its commercial contracts with large global companies.
I am the General Manager for Organisational Learning and Development which has responsibility for planning, business analysis, organisational development, learning technologies and resources, compliance and policy.
2. How can the Organisational Development function help a business to grow?
In a nutshell it’s about developing people, ways of working, and an environment that creates a culture of collaboration, learning, agility and a workplace where there is a high level of engagement because everyone enjoys where they are working. Everyone enjoying their work = profitability.
3. As an organisation gets larger there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening?
Creating opportunities to step back and reflect both as a leader and as an organisation on why we are in business and what inspires us. Making time for talking about the exciting changes around us in the world and how we can maximise those – creative ideas from other industries, futurists, thought leaders, new technology and contemporary practice from around the world.
4. How do you encourage creative thinking within your organisation?
Encouraging my teams to carve out time for thinking and creative discussions. Then leading by example in giving them opportunities to experiment with and implement new ideas.
5. Engaging staff is central in your role – what is one practical tip that could help others to build engagement?
Make sure you create an environment where everyone feels safe, trust them to do a great job, make them feel strong and capable of doing more than they thought possible and then let them get on and do it. Make the work environment purposeful and enjoyable for everyone.
6. List a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader.
“The Truth about Leadership” by Kouzes and Posner
“Bullshift: Get More Honesty and Straight Talk at Work” by Andrew Horabin
And a great TED talk: Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe by Simon Sinek
7. Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?
I have been inspired by a number of amazing leaders but the person who has had the most impact has been Paolo Amaranti (currently CEO Rottnest Island) who showed me the power of being authentic, being true to your values and the success that comes from surrounding yourself with a great team.
8. In your view, what is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
Leading others through the fast pace of change and attracting and keeping those with the emotional intelligence to be the organisation’s leaders of the future.
9. Is there a favourite quote or mantra that guides you in work and life?
Gandhi’s “Be the change you want to see in the world”. When I am coaching managers I often tell them to “Be the manager they wish they had.”
The other is from Dr Fiona Wood about keeping the bar high; “Don’t be less than your best just to make others feel more comfortable.”
10. As a candidate, how did the recruitment process with Briscoe Search & Consulting feel different for you?
The experience was unique because I felt that Briscoe was as interested in the job being the best match for me as it was for their client and they followed up to make sure it was a good fit.