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Thursday, 24 July 2014

How to make UNITECH fly?

(Speech for the Opening of the "Strategy into Action" for the Senior Executive Management Team of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, in Madang from 19-21 July 2014.)


UNITECH has a published strategy called Vision 2030, but it has no action plan. Apparently, the previous management did not have the know-how on how to implement a strategy. As a candidate I promised on 8 June 2011, I would do this, and provide transformational leadership necessary to turn UNITECH into an innovative, student-centred and entrepreneurial university. I have thought long and hard about this. This year, for example, I wrote a paper on strategic management for universities, which won best-paper award.

I am therefore happy and excited today, when we start this workshop called "Strategy into Action" for the Senior Executive Management Team of the Papua New Guinea University of Technology. We will be here in Madang for a 3 days intensive workshop from 19-21 July 2014. As a result of this workshop, we will have a multi-year action plan together, based on a sound strategy. We will publish a summary for everybody to see.

We are also here to learn to work as a team, and continue to train our skills. You will need to discard some of your cherished beliefs, and get out of your comfort zone. We are not on campus, so we can not be interrupted, and more importantly we take a physical distance necessary for some deep reflection.

Our workshop is facilitated by Ralph Vossenberg MBA from "De Greef, Vossenberg and partners". Ralph has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Delft University of Technology, and an MBA. He has over a decade experience working in various executive roles in multi-national companies (e.g. Unilever), and more than 10 years experience as an executive trainer and coach. He will help us become a top performing team.

It will be 3 days of hard work. First, we held a brief review workshop 17 May 2014. Today, we will clarify and bring more focus the vision, mission and strategy of UNITECH. We will analyse and work on the organisational structure and setup, information flow, financial issues and budget, culture in the organisations, bringing bad news, operational framework for the next 12-18 months, Key Performance Indicators KPI's, and internal and external communication. As a result of the works we will have a list of actions, responsible owners, and milestones so that we can monitor progress towards our objectives.

An Inspiring Example

In 2009, I visited Kocaeli University in Izmit, Turkey. The purpose of my trip was to attend a conference on the effects of natural disasters, at Kocaeli University. In 1986, the city had been hit by a rain cloud filled with radioactivity from the Chernobyl disaster. In 1999, many cancer cases had developed. To make matters worse on 17 August a devastating 7.4 Magnitude earth quake hit the city killing around 17.000 people.

What I saw in 2009, was not a double disaster zone. The city was struggling to rebuild, but there was a new industrial park where university was conducting research. The university campus had been completely destroyed, but a new campus had been built on a new site. The postgraduate programs had been growing. The target was that each Masters thesis should be a publishable article (in a peer reviewed article), and each PhD thesis in engineering discipline should lead to a marketable, new product.

What I found in 2009 was a new campus with state of the art library, class rooms and lecture theatres, and campus wide broadband, reliable internet. Even more impressive there was a state of the art research hospital with 500 beds. I was shown around campus and the industrial park by the Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic. I asked him: "How did you do it in a mere 10 years after such terrible disasters?".

The answer was essentially hard work, team work, network, sound strategy and sufficient investment. Hard work is required, but the positive results would energise all team members. They had been working hard for 10 years, and were not tired of it. There was also a good sense of team. In fact, the Rector (Vice-Chancellor) was not available, but the PVC Academic. Networking as important to organise the support from external stakeholders. Sound strategy was expressed in a limited number of Key Performance Indicators that everybody new. Finally, investment was done mostly by the Turkish state which was publicly committed to have one research intensive university per province. Universities can only finance themselves for 10-20% of their revenue, unless they have many billionaire alumni like for example Harvard University, or University of Oxford. We must point out the the government of PNG that in order to achieve its vision 2050 goals it must invest 6% of its GDP  in education, of which 2% for Higher Education.

The beginning of a new beginning for the Papua New Guinea University of Technology 

Why is the campus infrastructure UNITECH in such a bad state, plain for everybody to see? Why are our administrative processes and systems not working adequately? Why has staff not been trained so that it can apply the necessary skills to their jobs? Why are may people not working in the correct place in the organisation? Why are departments understaffed, so many of our Faculty still not sufficiently qualified?

We can think long and hard about it, and find all kinds of ultimate causes. The short answer, however, that inadequate leadership and incompetent, corrupt, and self-interested management over almost 2 decades did a lot of damage. Lack of investment was a consequence of a lack of trust the management was able to generate. It is our commitment now to turn this situation around, forge strengths from our weaknesses, and convert challenges into opportunities.

Can our team provide the leadership to make UNITECH fly? Yes we can. As Archimedes famously said: "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world." We are the lever, and the UNITECH community of learning is our fulcrum.

We are a long lever, because we can reach deep into the values of our diverse cultures, and the long history of our various academic traditions. Our Senior Executive Management team is more than sufficiently qualified and experienced, but most importantly it is composed of individuals of proven honesty, intelligence, and commitment. Nothing can stop us from achieving our goal.

Accountability and Results

Today, we take the next step, the beginning of the new beginning, and start to perform as a team based on a shared understanding of our common values, vision, and mission, armed with a strategy and operational plan to live up to the promise contained in them. We will define specific actions and key performance indicators, and hold each other accountable for results. I am convinced each team member can and will step up to the challenge.

1 comment:

  1. When all minds get together to march forward, to go ahead for the betterment of the human being-- the universe, none can stop, except your corrupt mind which you still carry with you to take you back.
    Wish you all the best for your good-will.