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Building effective water leaders: A course customised for Alluvium consultants

What are the tools needed to become a more effective water leader? How can you exercise influence across organisational boundaries and enable change? In what ways can you advance more integrated forms of water management and tackle ‘wicked problems’? A water leadership short course run by the International WaterCentre (IWC) from March until October this year has provided tools and answers to these questions.

For the second year in a row, a water leadership course was custom designed for eight engineers, social scientists and environmental scientists from Alluvium, a consultancy firm that specialises in providing sustainable solutions to the management of water resources, rivers and catchments.

The short course is a condensed version of IWC’s award-winning 9-month Water Leadership Program and draws on aspects of IWC’s Master of Integrated Water Management.
The course aimed to help project leaders with strong technical and management skills to be more effective at exercising influence, initiating and enabling change, tackling complex challenges and advancing more integrated forms of water management. 

“You don’t need to be in a position of authority to exercise leadership – you can lead regardless of your position in an organisation, you just need the right tools to do so.” Adam Neilly, Alluvium staff

The course was designed to address many aspects of leadership and to build capacity in areas such as: building self-awareness and clarifying personal values; leading with little authority; transformational, team and champion-type leadership; building and exercising power; ethics; and creating and facilitating environments to address wicked problems.

The flexible design of the course allowed participants to focus on building different abilities, with each participant creating an individual leadership development plan that documented their developmental objectives and actions they planned to take to build specific skills.       

Key lessons learnt

“The learnings from the course varied for each individual, but I can say with absolute confidence that everyone’s view of leadership was fundamentally changed,” said Adam Neilly, one of the participants from Alluvium’s Townsville office, who also wrote a blog about his experience.                                       

“For me, the course has been a career highlight. I am confident that the course has improved my leadership abilities and my attitude towards leadership. I have learnt a lot of the tools I need to help me through the next stage of my career. Ultimately, the single greatest benefit I have obtained from the course is the realisation that I can be a leader too,” said Brett Twycross, another participant from Alluvium.

“We worked very closely with IWC to tailor a leadership course for our staff. We have seen some outstanding results with real professional growth in key staff across the business. As a result we have partnered again with IWC this year, so that a second group of our staff can reap the benefits from this excellent course.” Dr Steve Skull, Regional Manager, Alluvium Brisbane

Key factors of success

The success of this course is due to a combination of several factors, as Dr André Taylor, IWC’s Leadership Specialist explained: “It’s IWC‘s experience and expertise in the design and delivery, combined with a positive attitude, open mind, and strong work ethic of participants - being willing to try new approaches and implementing the actions from their leadership plans”.

Dr Brian McIntosh, IWC's Senior Lecturer and Education Program Manager, added that other factors also play a role such as “input from experienced ‘industry group mentors’, such as Nick Apostolidis, Board member of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, the involvement and support of Alluvium managers, and the co-creation of an environment where participants can learn from one another and enjoy the process”.

Award-winning consultancy

It comes as no surprise that this innovative consultancy, which is heavily investing in building the capacity of its staff, has been recognised in the national Business Review Weekly’s (BRW) ‘50 Best Places to Work’ 2014 survey. The consultancy firm has also been a finalist and winner in the annual BRW Client Choice Awards which are the most prestigious awards for professional service firms in Australia.

More information


Alluvium WLP 2014/15

Alluvium 2 WLP 2014/15


Alluvium 4 WLP 2014/15




IWC Masters Scholarships



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