Leadership and management in flexible pavements industry in focus for 2018 AAPA Diploma

Australian Asphalt Pavement Association’s Tanja Conners talks about the association’s Diploma of Leadership and Management, and what individuals can gain from the flexible pavements-specific course in 2018.Australian Asphalt Pavement Association’s Tanja Conners talks about the association’s Diploma of Leadership and Management, and what individuals can gain from the flexible pavements-specific course in 2018.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” While US President John F. Kennedy never uttered the words, his sentiment – included in the speech he was to deliver on that fateful day on 22 November, 1963 – still resonates across multiple industries today.

For the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA), leadership in the flexible pavements industry, likewise, is indispensable to learning, and vice-versa.

Last year, the association launched its Diploma of Leadership and Management – a course designed to help develop leadership within the industry, but also provide additional training on just what leadership and management mean within this sector.

The association has started taking bookings for its 2018 diploma, and its Executive Director Knowledge and Partnerships, Tanja Conners, talks to Roads & Infrastructure Magazine about the course and what can be gained from attending.

Ms. Conners says the basis for the diploma stems from the need to empower leaders in the Australian flexible pavements sector, and build a more comprehensive knowledgebase around leadership in general.

“Many of the subjects under engineering courses and qualifications at university level don’t typically cover aspects of team management, such as business financials for non-financials, conflict resolution and leadership in general,” she says. “There’s that big thing about being both a manager and a leader and not a lot of people know the difference between the two.”

Focusing on a diploma in leadership and management, catering specifically for the Australian flexible pavements sector, regardless of the size of the organisation, was another factor driving the association to establish the course.

Ms. Conners says many of the large tier one businesses in the Australian flexible pavements industry practice leadership training and mentoring programs internally, with many partnered with universities for their own respective courses. She says the aim of AAPA’s new leadership diploma is to cater to the smaller and mid-tier organisations that can’t afford to integrate the same frameworks internally.

“We needed the diploma to be very practical and it was in keeping with the flexible pavements industry specifically. After the first course, it has been redesigned to be technical so it wasn’t a ‘tick and flick’ process, but also didn’t require a massive amount of time outside of work hours, especially as attendees will be working full time jobs.”

AAPA teamed up with Academy Global and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) under their Access UTS Pty Ltd Registered Training Organisation (Code 90811) to develop the course. Because of the partnership with Access UTS, Ms. Conners says the diploma gives attendees the opportunity to explore future postgraduate studies through the university. “It means they have direct access to UTS if they wanted to undertake a Masters Degree, for instance,” she adds. “For companies putting their staff through the diploma, they can see it as not just putting through their next team leader, but helping provide further investment in personnel for the long term.”

The diploma sessions are led by presenters from Academy Global who have backgrounds in leadership and management training specific to road construction sector. It’s aimed at tackling scenario-based challenges, encouraging creativity and applying skills learnt to relevant and topical issues within a project based assessment, which is reviewed by a panel of peers.

The program itself covers a wide range of topics under a number of main subsections, including: turning strategy into action; time, resource management and teams; people, performance and continuous improvement; financial management; project and risk management; dealing with touch stuff – pragmatic thinking; and situation awareness.

The diploma also covers duty of care, the legal frameworks of management and leadership in a pavement construction context, and even aspects such as conflict resolution and human resources and industrial relations management. “We also go into the safety aspect, talking about situational awareness – not just what could be seen as a risk, but why it is seen as a risk.”

Ms. Conners says the inaugural diploma last year was a great indication of the interest in the course, and AAPA aims to continue developing it to cater to market demand. “The next course will start in June this year and we already have lots of interest coming in off the back of last year – it’s certainly gaining a lot of traction.”

The diploma is held in one state each year, with the 2017 course being based in Melbourne and this year’s course in Sydney. Up to five face-to-face sessions – held four days in row – take place over the course of the five-month diploma program.

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