Lessons Learned from the 2019 Tertiary Education Management Conference (TEMC)

Posted: 15/10/2019

TEMC was held in Adelaide on the 29th September-3rd October at the Adelaide Convention Centre. This year’s theme ‘Distilling Ideas, Transforming Futures’ set the scene for an exciting range of speakers and presentations.

My colleague, Carly Boon and I attended the conference and spoke with clients and colleagues and met many new people there. The keynotes ranged from Katrina Webb OAM, to Jamie Fitzgerald, Simon Griffiths, Alice Gorman, Jane Caro and Jana Wendt.

Kathy Buxton and Jennifer Brennan presented their work over the past four years in developing a new professional workforce model at Monash University. This model, ‘Flexible Administration Services Team – FAST’ provides a range of professional services to any area across the university. This model saves faculties and central areas in recruitment costs and time in sourcing casual staff for short-term projects or contracts.

The FAST team has had extraordinary success with 400 to 500 deployments across all areas. They built an EOI portal to cater for demand and they receive at least one CV each day. They train and manage all newly recruited staff and ensure the service provided is of a high quality.

Ali Cherisee and Melissa Roughly from UNSW presented on Service Enhancement and Service Culture where central teams are partnering with faculties to review and improve functions and processes. They undertake joint projects where the focus is on the student as the customer; where the expectation of fast turnaround times and efficient service delivery are the core drivers of their projects.

They work as a team, considering the voice of the customer and making decisions based on customer’s needs. Their work is based on a framework of People, Process, Tools and Customer Focus and this is used to drive a cultural shift across the University.

The team develops an enabling strategy through cross functional initiatives to break down silos; they then look at operational efficiency using a Lean Thinking approach with process improvement activities to get to the root cause of problems. They use a core group of ‘critical friends’ from the university community to support the creation of teams to work on improvement projects.

Yvonne Oberhollenzer from the University of Queensland facilitated a workshop to consider the benefits of collaboration across faculties as part of a project to transform services to students. She identified the greatest challenges is encouraging staff to change the way they do things and dealing with the internal structural barriers. Silos were mentioned more than once!

On a side note, we ordered some excellent sunny weather for you all and I’m pleased to say that Adelaide did not disappoint.