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Water professionals from Asia and Australia discuss leadership for the future

26 professionals in water-related fields met in Brisbane recently for an intensive five-day program to develop leadership skills for the water sector.

Sixteen Australian water professionals from a range of organisations in the sector, including utilities and state and local government, and ten NARBO (Network of Asian River Basin Organization) water professionals, worked together in the leadership training session as part of the International WaterCentre Water Leadership Program and Australia Awards Fellowship (Water Leadership for River Basin Organisations in Asia).

The participants came from a wide diversity of backgrounds, including catchment management, urban design, water supply, stormwater and wastewater management, engineering, policy and project management, and landscape architecture.

“Having a diverse group of participants in this program is important to its success. This year we have participants from six countries and from many different parts of the water management sector. This high level of diversity means that we have had richer discussions about water leadership, drawing on the collective experience of the group. This practical experience complements the program’s academic content,” said Dr André Taylor, the program’s coordinator and IWC Water Leadership Specialist.

The five training days included speakers and trainers from University of Queensland, Griffith University, Monash University, and the World Wide Fund for Nature. It also included former executives from water agencies such as SEQ Bulk Water Company Ltd, Healthy Waterways Ltd, Qld Urban Utilities, Brisbane City Council and Melbourne Water.

NARBO-WLP leadership trainingParticipants also visited an innovative integrated water management site at Fitzgibbon Chase to meet with a champion who played an influential role in designing and implementing the project, and to learn leadership lessons from his experience.

"I will use these new learnings to become a more effective transformational leader and project champion," said one NARBO participant.

For the Water Leadership Program participants, the training forms part of a nine-month feedback-intensive leadership development program which runs each year from December to August. The program includes one-to-one coaching sessions, online discussions, challenging leadership projects, follow-up training in July, 360-degree feedback, individual leadership development plans, and group mentoring by four highly experienced executives from the water industry.

"The leadership training will be relevant to all areas of my life – personal, community and professional," said Russell Cadman, Water Sensitive Urban Design Officer, Brimbank City Council. "It has already been seen in a positive light by my work peers and management."

For the  Australian Awards Fellows, the training provided them with an opportunity to learn from Australian practice and reflect on the applicability of these practices in their home context, and to build their capacity to continually develop as leaders over their careers, through a balance between academic and real-world approaches.

The Fellows continued their training for another week of lectures, workshops and field trips where they learnt about topics such as the importance of partnerships and community groups in the water sector, Australian water reform, the Murray Darling Basin case study, water management in the face of climate variability, and the latest practices for the development of water sensitive cities.



The IWC Water Leadership Program is customised for water industry professionals at the project to middle management level (i.e. non-executives). The program is based on sound research within the water industry and is delivered in partnership with experienced leadership specialists and industry practitioners. 

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