When and where did you do your postgraduate course?
AIM provides John Swire & Sons (the parent com
pany of Alex Fraser Group) with a Swire Man
agement Program and an Advanced Swire
Management Program that between them satisfy
the requirements of a Graduate Certificate in Busi
ness (Professional Management).
Part-time or full-time?
Both programs are about two weeks residential
and we get to do them with other managers from
the different Swire businesses in Australia. The
course material is delivered by AIM and there is an
assessment component that is done in your own
time. Most of the assessment is relevant to work
you are doing in the office.
Why an executive education course?
For me it was about getting immersed in the latest
management thinking and networking with other
managers from the Swire Group. We have a really
interesting group that contains businesses as diverse
as agriculture, road transport, cold storage, ship
ping and industrial services so the exposure to how
other managers address their unique challenges is
really stimulating. I did an MBA 10 years ago and
I find I don’t get the time to keep up to date with
the latest management thinking. Because it’s resi
dential it’s also nice to have a forced “time out”.
How did the executive education course help your
career as a HR professional?
I think the great HR professionals are not only
passionate about the possibilities with people, but
also deeply interested in the business and what
makes it tick. Unless you can talk meaningfully
about what drives the P&L of your business you’ll
just be regarded as “that guy who bangs on about
people stuff”. So I think executive education in
general management is essential for HR profes
sionals to get sufficient credibility necessary to
make a difference.
What advice would you give to someone who is
thinking about pursuing a masters/MBA/exec edu
My best friend is asking me this very question
at the moment. He didn’t go to uni and has
done OK for himself after starting out as a
bank Johnny. I think he’s got the perfect oppor
tunity as a mature age student to claim his
work experience and get started on a post
graduate qualification. I’ve said to him he does
n’t want to get to 45 and lose out on a
promotion to some graduate. Besides, his com
pany is prepared to help out with the fees. It’s
What was the greatest challenge for you while
completing the course?
Time is the hardest thing to find these days, so get
ting sufficient time to do the assessment was the
greatest challenge. But isn’t it always the case that
when you set aside the time you actually get a lot
out of it? Well worth the effort.
Any other comments?
One of the great things about the course is that
the material is pretty relevant to the challenges we
have – getting the best out of our people, getting
clear about our strategy and managing operational
improvement – so I’ve brought back a lot of the
butcher’s paper from the course and have it on my
wall at the moment.