Cutting the lead

When it comes to fitting in study around a job, Gerard McQuilkin prefers to get right out of the office for a block course, where work can't distract him.

When it comes to fitting in study around a job, Gerard McQuilkin prefers to get right out of the office for a block course, where work can’t distract him.

Deciding the delivery method for training sometimes depends on what course you’re after, but the infrastructure manager with Gough, Gough & Hamer prefers three-day or one-week block courses rather than studying in smaller chunks over a period of months.

“The way things go work-wise, unless you’re fully booked up and go and do it, your planning gets interfered with at some stage. It’s easier to cut the lead and go for it. It’s hard to book time at short notice but not at medium notice. It’s like holidays — you’ve just got to put your foot down.”

Natural Gas CIO Brett Bennett says the company has used a variety of modes for training.

“It’s horses for courses. We don’t do many block courses but we do do some online electronic training. And if people want to do extramural study or evening courses then we support them.”

Richmond IT manager Ian Bell says the meat processing company has used a variety of modes — online courses, customised courses and block courses — everything apart from probably evening courses.

It may seem like it’s hard to find the time for training, he says, but people just have to fit it in.

“I have this philosophy that I should be able to walk out of here at any time and the IT function will continue to run. It may not work on strategy, and higher level stuff may stop as you would expect, but ... I’m fortunate that I’ve got capable staff and we’ve developed our staff to the point where that can happen.”

He’s keen on training, budgeting to recognised best practice for it. If someone in his organisation expressed a desire to go on to become an IT manager the company would do a formal needs analysis to find out what sort of courses would help them.

“We might say ‘do Accountancy For Non-Accountants to get a better understanding of the business’.”

Bell does higher-level technology and business courses.

At Gough, Gough & Hamer, a training manager is on site. McQuilkin says for the courses he did, the training manager put together some ideas from the providers he was aware of.

At Natural Gas six-monthly reviews are done at which staff talk about issues such as training. The company also embraces a leadership development model called Four Quadrant Leadership (4QL), developed by Australian Wilfred Jarvis.

Natural Gas technical architect Bernie Goedhart says he still does the occasional programming course, whereas Bennett is more focused on management issues.

“It’s good to do that too otherwise you end up getting locked into problem solving whereas you should really be managing the people who are solving the problems — not doing it yourself.”

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