2016 Vic YWP Professional Development Series Seminar 3 - “Leadership in Research & Innovation (in Pecha Kucha format)”
Taking place on 8 September 2016, the third seminar in the 2016 YWP Professional Development Series focused on “Leadership in Research and Innovation”. Located at Minter Ellison, the evening featured eight speakers from a range of sectors presenting in a ‘Pecha Kucha
’ format (Pecha Kucha is Japanese for ‘Chit Chat’). This fast-paced presenting style allowed each speaker 7 minutes to summarise their key points on Leadership in Research and Innovation, and many of the speakers adhered to the format of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each.
The evening began with a warm welcome from our sponsors from KBR, Viadux and Minter Ellison. The MC of the evening, Robbie Frawley, then asked the audience to actively listen and to note three things on the provided post-it notes: what did I hear, what did I think, and what did I wonder during each presentation. These post-its were to be stuck around the room on the paper provided for each speaker.
Our first speaker for the evening was Vince Pettigrove, CEO at Centre for Aquatic Pollution Identification and Management. Vince drew on his wealth of experience from the Victorian water industry and aquatic research to share his view of requirements for productive and collaborative research. Vince explained the need for a good organisational culture to foster leadership, and that mentoring at all levels is an important step to achieve this.
Paul Satur, a PhD candidate at the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities was up next. Paul spoke about the findings of his research into social inequality and water sensitive cities, highlighting the contrasting capacity for resilience and water saving principles between groups with varying social advantage. Paul emphasised the need to be aware of this disparity when researching new innovations, and the varying capacity of social groups to adopt new technology.
The third speaker was John Williams, a Student Landscape Architect at HASSELL. John presented his innovative research into applying phytoremediation techniques to transform hazardous brownfield sites into residential communities, using Brooklyn in Melbourne’s inner-west as a case study. He explained that this technique can be more socially inclusive, which can assist the important social remediation of such sites.
Rounding out the first session of speakers was Dr Marcus Zipper, Director at CSIRO Services who spoke about the seven interlinked global megatrends CSIRO has identified as areas for future investment. Marcus explained the need to understand the future and where technology changes are required, before substantial investment can be made in appropriate research and development.
After some refreshments, networking, and an opportunity to stick our post-it notes up, Suzy Goldsmith, the Director of Goldsmith Advisory, resumed the discussion on leadership in research and innovation. Suzy emphasised the need for diverse, multi-disciplinary teams to achieve true innovation. She presented some important traits of strong leadership, including the need to trust and empower people, and to ensure that the necessary people are included in the group – not just the available ones. Suzy used the example of plastic waste in remediated waterways as a reminder that innovation is never finished.
The next speaker for the evening was David Brennan, the Head of Engagement at Act. Banking. David’s presentation on Act.’s innovative approach to Community Sector Banking provided an interesting example from outside the water industry. He explained how banking with Act. provides the opportunity to earn and donate banking profits to social projects, to foster positive change.
Damien Connell, the Contracts Manager of the Smart Water Fund presented next. Damian explained the important need for knowledge transfer in the water industry and the demonstrated innovation of the Smart Water Fund through pooled funds and common interests between utilities to risk share and aid collaboration, the crowd sourcing tool for ideas, and a voting system that allows ideas to be ranked by industry.
The final speaker of the evening was Dr Lisa Ehrenfried, Manager Research and Innovation at WSAA. Lisa discussed the idea ‘what can the water industry learn from start-ups?’ Some of the key ideas Lisa focused on were testing innovations early and often, embracing agile and lean methodologies, and tapping into resources external to the water industry. Lisa certainly sparked discussion by mentioning a KPI for failure in some start-ups!
Following the presentations, the eight speakers answered questions as a panel and some of the key themes from the evening were discussed. Suzy suggested that the boundaries between disciplines are where innovation is going to occur, with many speakers agreeing that cross-functional teams are vital to overcome different KPIs and modes of operation. The other key theme of change in research styles was discussed, highlighting the need to adapt to future trends.
We would like to thank our sponsors for the evening, KBR and Viadux, and Minter Ellison, who again generously provided the attendees with excellent hospitality. We would also like to thank all of our presenters for embracing the fast-paced format of the evening, for engaging in a lively panel discussion and making this an enjoyable and interesting event for all.