Reflections from two weeks of training under the ACIAR John Allwright Fellowship Executive Leadership Program
Phassara Khamthara, PhD Candidate from The Centre for Global Food and Resources, attended the ACIAR John Allwright Fellowship Executive Leadership (JAFel) program workshop, 4–15 November at the University of New England. In this blog she shares some of the highlights from the workshop.
The JAFel program is delivered over 18 months including this two-week intensive training workshop, 15 months of online training, and a concluding workshop. The JAFel program is overseen by Professor John Gibson, Director of International Development, University of New England. The key areas of training are project operational and financial management, leadership and entrepreneurial skills, and gender and social inclusion. The objective of the program is to help participants become effective managers and leaders throughout their postgraduate study and into their future careers. In the current cohort of JAFel, there are 22 participants from 10 different countries.
The two week workshop featured a number of sessions, as detailed (briefly) below. A project management session, delivered by Dr. Phil Harrell, introduced participants to the key concepts involved in project management and, facilitated learning through group discussion and assignments. He also introduced participants to project management tools such as life-cycle planning, work breakdown structures, Gantt charts, resource management and cost control.
The gender and social inclusion training session was delivered by Dr. Rebecca Spence. Dr Spence introduced the participants to gender considerations as well as different cultural perspectives in leadership. Participants were also given opportunities to discuss and evaluate obstacles and opportunities for building an inclusive workforce with regards to gender and social inclusion.
A session on entrepreneurship and management within and between cultures was delivered by Dr. Simon Burgess. He introduced participants to the key concepts of leadership in an organisation with a high degree of cultural diversity. The session also covered basic principles of entrepreneurial thinking to help develop solutions to solve problems in different scenarios.
A research project management training session was delivered by Professor Ray Cooksey. This session included strategies and frameworks to help the students effectively evaluate and manage their higher degree by research projects within the project timeframe.
A leadership training session was delivered by Dr Peter McClenaghan. He utilised challenging team-based activities designed to train participants through demanding team decision-making tasks. The session also explored participants’ personality types, values and conflict management styles to promote understanding of themselves and others.
The participants also visited the University of New England’s SMART Farm Innovation Centre which showcases a number of modern technologies used in farm management, such as drones, GPS tracking for livestock, and remote vehicle tracker. The SMART Farm is supported by a telemetry network allowing staff to deploy sensors anywhere within reception footprint. Data from plant and soil sensors, cameras, and weather stations can be accessed via the internet from anywhere in the world!
Overall, Phassara noted that the two-week training workshop was a wonderful experience and an excellent introduction to the remainder of the JAFel program.