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Engineering News

Wednesday, 07 December 2016

From engineering graduates to future leaders

From engineering graduates to future leaders

In the current environment, the ability of engineering practices and firms to grow and expand depends largely upon their ability to take and develop young engineers not just into excellent technical performers but into future leaders which will help the firm expand into new markets, grow its client base and drive ongoing and continual innovation and improvement in its practices.

Engineering firms face opportunity and challenge on a number of fronts. As projects grow in size and complexity, both the dollar value at stake for clients and the number of participants involved is on the rise. This calls for careful planning and risk management, as well as ongoing communication with larger and more diverse teams. Stakeholder groups are also becoming more diverse, and firms which lead projects are increasingly being asked to manage relationships with clients, regulators and planning authorities, project financiers, end user, suppliers, consultants, contractors/sub-contractors, and community groups.

For many larger projects, firms are competing not just against the best locally but also internationally in order to win projects. At the same time, a significant number of local firms are looking abroad for opportunities and are engaging with clients and other parties on an international scale.

In this environment, firms which are succeeding are those who not only deliver outstanding results from a technical perspective but who also excel at the management and leadership of complex projects involving multiple parties, multiple-stakeholder engagement and innovation in project methodology and delivery.

Just as importantly, firms need to be driving ongoing improvement and productivity with their own operations. They need to ingrain within their staff a strong sense of commercial focus and awareness about how individual decisions and actions of each staff member impacts the organisation as a whole.

With this in mind, the importance of developing the next generation of leaders, who will take the firm forward cannot be underestimated. In order for this to happen, the firm's graduates need to be equipped not only with the technical skills required to deliver upon client expectations but also the commercial acumen required in terms of helping move the form itself forward.

Engineers Australia's Graduate Program provides a structured learning plan to develop your graduates into future leaders. The eighteen-month program is developed by Engineering Education Australia in conjunction with leading corporate business training provider, DeakinPrime, and with input from major firms across critical engineering sectors. It equips participants to complement their technical abilities with a strong sense of commercial acumen and non-technical competencies in critical areas such as communication, teamwork, leadership, stakeholder engagement, project financing, project methodology, critical thinking, performance leadership, and risk management and innovation.

For employers, benefits of the program are numerous. As a structured learning program, employers can be confident that their young engineers will emerge with a comprehensive set of commercial and non-technical skills to complement their technical abilities. This enhances the ability of young engineers to adopt a more comprehensive understanding of client requirements from a commercial perspective as well as from a technical viewpoint. It also provides younger engineers with an enhanced ability to lead and manage change with the firm itself.

At the same time, in-built flexibility with the program's structure enables participants and firms to choose how they progress through the modules according to their specific needs. Companies who run an existing graduate program can design this program to complement their current program offering. Indeed, companies themselves can choose to have a senior member from their firm act as a mentor for their students throughout the program. The senior member will have access to EEA's Learning Management System and will be able to see how their graduates are progressing throughout the program.

Sandra Gallagher, Education Manager at Engineering Education Australia, says the involvement of employers within the program is being driven by a strong wish on the part of industry and enables employers to actively participate in what their young engineers are learning.

"That's the real difference that we have got over any other degree of its kind - we are actually involving industry in the student's learning," Gallagher said.

"The business will be involved from day one until the end of the eighteen months."

Penelope Owen, a senior learning consultant at DeakinPrime, says the program has been developed through extensive consultation with industry, universities and graduates.

"It's designed by engineers with engineers mind," she said.

Details of the program can be seen here.