QUT Connecting with Industry

Kelly Lorentz



My role at QUT Executive Education is that of Corporate Partnership Manager; specifically, in the context of leadership development. I partner with our corporate clients to better understand their organisational development requirements, keeping them abreast on the latest trends and research we are seeing. Perhaps, more importantly, I listen. I listen to their business challenges and provide solutions accordingly.

Whilst such one-on-one meetings play a significant and very rewarding part of my role, I have always enjoyed peer group collaboration and providing clients with opportunities to network and learn something new. When I returned from maternity leave in early 2016 (having been out of the workforce for nearly a year), I felt an even stronger need to build a community of practice; not only my clients, but for me too. Whilst many of the broader organisational development themes remain consistent year-on-year, I was keen to learn about the new and emerging ones. What are the ‘burning’ issues for you and your organisation? These are some of the reasons why I felt the need to start a HR Reference Group.

Our inaugural HR Reference Group took place in June 2016 with the purpose of serving as an advisory forum. An advisory forum which provides participants and organisations with the opportunity to:

  • Advise QUT Executive Education on its corporate education programs (seeking feedback on existing and future programs)
  • Cross industry dialogue and exploration of potential topics of benefit
  • Networking opportunities
  • Engage and foster relationships with peers

During the inaugural meeting, a number of key themes were identified, including:

  • Strategic HR management
  • Changes and developments in the HR discipline, the relevance of HR.
  • Enhancing the interaction between industry and executive education.
  • Leadership capability, models and what that might look like for industry and executive education.
  • New era service delivery paradigms returning value to the customer, including design led innovation, co design, systems thinking, big data and digital transformation.
  • Diversity and inclusion.
  • Best practice performance management.
  • Engagement, retention and culture.
  • Balance and wellness, sustainable ways of working.
  • Future of work.
  • New models of talent management.

So yes, it is fair to say that we identified a few themes! Since the inaugural meeting, the group has gained momentum and met twice since. In our September meeting, we explored the topic of Strategic HR Management with one of our Corporate Educators, Dr Kate Joyner. Kate is currently designing a workshop on just this topic and so it was great to be able to share her thoughts and seek feedback from the group.  In our December meeting, we were privileged enough to hear from one of our group members, Steve Eltis, Director of People and Culture, Wesley Mission Queensland. At this meeting, Steve presented his thoughts on how HR practitioners can move from ‘Policeman’ to Entrepreneur. A very creative and insightful perspective was offered and great feedback was received.

Whilst this group is still relatively new, I am really enjoying the collaboration that is taking place. We often start these sessions by having everyone introduce themselves and state what a ‘hot topic’ is for them and their business right now. Such a simple exercise, yet very powerful. This applies across the board, but to hear that someone else is experiencing a similar challenge to you, can often be quite comforting. You tend to feel an automatic connection with that person; conversation begins to flow and solutions explored together.

We live and lead in such complex environments these days that we often don’t find time to pause and reflect. Sometimes however, by pausing and taking a moment to reflect in the company of like-minded professionals, you begin to see challenges through a new lens. Often, as a result, our complex world can become less complex. In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

Kelly Lorentz is the partnerships manager – corporate partnerships within the Graduate School of Business.

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