Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 7 2009 Contents 24
DeFenCe MAterIeL orGAnIsAtIon
he success of the many
complex and challenging
projects managed by the Defence
Materiel Organisation depends
on the best and brightest project
managers the industry has to
offer. but what happens when these
very project managers retire?
Emerging trends within Australia, the United
Kingdom and the United States indicate a critical
shortfall in senior project managers. Until recently,
there has not been an adequate succession plan to
resolve this issue.
But in 2007, Defence and several global
government and industry organisations worked together
to develop the competency standard for complex
project managers. From this, the Executive Masters in
Complex Project Management course was developed
Developed by DMO and the Queensland University
of Technology (QUT), the course is a world-first and
aims to accelerate the advancement of senior staff
members and industry partners who are responsible
for managing highly-demanding projects on behalf of
The course is designed to challenge students
to reflect on themselves and how others perceive
them. It provides a learning framework to build
their leadership, team building, problem solving and
DMO's Ms Deborah Hein and Mr Stephen Onus
were participants on the 2008 pilot course and both
said it has had lasting effects.
“This is not just project management 101,”
Stephen said. “It questions the way you behave and
asks you to think about yourself, and whether you can
achieve better outcomes by doing things differently.
“The way QUT have developed the program is
different as every single lecture is co-facilitated by an
academic and an experienced practitioner.
“They have leading practitioners for each
theoretical component, and create a fantastic balance
between the theory and its practical application.”
Deborah said the course was extremely rewarding
and provides participants with an opportunity to extend
themselves, to learn and to change.
“We now have the skills and knowledge to look
at a situation and very quickly identify the problem
and work toward a solution,” Deborah said.
One feature of the course is the international
study tour where students can experience first-
hand the innovations and processes of leading
global organisations such as the London Olympic
Development Authority, BAE Astute Submarine
project in the UK, and Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike
Fighter project in the USA.
“Ideally what we should be doing as a project
management community is sharing our knowledge
and working with people around the world to do
things better,” Deborah said.
“By visiting the United Kingdom and United
States of America we experienced Defence
Industry projects on a global scale and it gave us an
understanding that industries around the world are
facing similar challenges in project management.”
Now in its second year, the course continues
to exceed expectations. Daniel Kopunic is a student
in this year’s course and provided an insight into his
experience so far.
“We talk about the ambiguous nature of
contemporary projects, and it’s like we’re learning a
new language,” Daniel said.
“This course is the cornerstone for the next
development phase of my life and I will continue to
refer to the knowledge I have gained in the course for
years to come.”
Since last year’s pilot course, the DMO senior
executive has repeatedly commented on the
observable changes in leadership and decision
making behaviour evident in the graduates of the
Executive Masters in Complex Project Management.
But as Deborah Hein points out, everyone can
benefit from the course, not only the DMO.
By Shelley Daws
Delivered as an intensive one-year
program, the executive Masters
in complex Project Management
is a highly intensive, interactive,
problem-based course where
students experience real challenges
in the complex project management
environment. students develop a
range of skills such as:
■ innovative and creative problem
■ advanced communication skills
■ personal awareness and the affect
■ systems thinking
■ strategic management of complex projects
including stakeholder management, risk
and issues management, performance and
financial management, strategic business
planning, accountability and governance,
and managing contract relations and
contract law, and
cultivating future project managers
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