Behind the mud, diggers and concrete, big infrastructure projects depend on sophisticated processes, innovative design, high quality people management and determined leadership.
“Behind the scenes, there's the finesse of planning, the grace of design and the thoughtfulness of team dynamic that make things happen,” according to Lale Ieremia, CEO of Arrow Construction Australia the company that, when earthquakes devastated Christchurch New Zealand, was on the scene to undertake much of the rebuilding .
However he goes on to say that “When you talk like that in the pure construction industry you tend to get laughed at a little. But if you don't talk about it enough in the front end, you can't communicate effectively with the dreamers who start a lot of these projects.”
Bridging the gap between the construction site and the boardroom is central to Lale's role and key to Arrow's success. “There are millions of things to be done when putting massive projects together,” he says. “From your theoretical business analysts to your structural steel fabricators, there's such a diverse mix of people to manage across the project spectrum. It's my job as a leader to manage this effectively - and I have to get it right.”
How can executive educators help leaders in truly critical leadership roles such as Lale’s in industries where business school learning has not always been the norm?
Lale enrolled in the Advanced Management Program at Melbourne Business School. What ensued over the next 12 days was a journey that he describes as “profound” and a “life-changing' experience - on both professional and personal levels.”
Lale gained valuable insights into his personal management style. “Before being able to help others and impact a team, you really need to understand yourself in some detail,” he says. Through detailed feedback and personal analysis “I realised how I could actually make changes to benefit both the team and myself, and gain results for the organization moving forward.”
He also more fully understood the importance of managing individuals' behaviour to achieve a successful team dynamic. “When behaviour isn't right, it doesn't matter how technically strong you are. The team will move forward a lot slower than it should.”
Lale is already implementing changes that will have long-term impact for the company. “In the short time since I've finished the program, I've taken the time to make some immediate changes around behaviour. And as quickly as I have done that, I'm getting an immediate response back from the team.”
A key observation he makes and where the Mt. Eliza program has been instrumental is around bridging the gap between the boardroom and the building site. “When I undertook the Advanced Management Program, I was more suited to the harder end of construction than the boardroom table,” he says. “But through MBS-Mt Eliza, I was able to understand the synergies between these two environments and lead the business across both spheres.”