An Introduction to the Defence Readiness Seminar Series by Alan Rankins, CEO of Goal Group

Listen to the podcast, explaining the background to why the Seminar Series, the benefits of participating, the seminar topics and who will be presenting… as well as the new virtual format.

Alan Rankins

A full transcript of the interview is below.

 

Podcast Interview

Alan – Thank you Grant it’s a fantastic honour for me to introduce this Defence Ready Seminar Series.   I cannot introduce the Series without providing some background to the journey I, and others have taken to get here.  I have been involved in Defence and the Defence Industry for 48 years on the 03rd of July 2020.  21 of those years was in uniform.  The rest is a continuous stream of Defence Industry involvement including Australian Prime, International Prime and Small to Medium Enterprises (defined by our government to be less than 200 employees in an Australian registered company).  I supplemented that experience with now 14 years of SME ownership and continuously “giving back” to my industry from over 20 years of involvement with the Australian Industry and Defence Network (AIDN) – and other Industry Associations, at the highest level of involvement and commitment.

In the first part of that industry journey I saw first-hand the struggle Australia’s industry had against an Australian Industry Involvement policy that was very unsupportive and almost destroyed our manufacturing and shipbuilding capability across several governments.  In 2016, the federal government significantly changed that policy into support for Australian Industry Involvement.  They coupled that with the largest Defence Spend in Australian history…significant opportunity

But after years of neglect, our SMEs struggled to be what has come to be known as “Defence Ready”.  The Defence Ready Framework was devised by me in response to what I saw as the significant challenge to SMEs in Australia and the opportunity.  For the last 5 or so years we have refined and developed this approach.

Grant – it has taken a long time to get to here Alan. What was the catalyst? 

Alan – I discussed our vision with Tim Owen the leader of the Hunter Defence Task Force and Anna Murray the President of AIDN NSW.  Both saw and supported its considerable promise.  Tim specifically became a champion.  We gained the full support of Hunter Defence and the AIDN NSW Committee and the Goal Group team was incentivised to produce the Level Zero Seminar Series under this Defence Ready Framework.  That took about 12-24 months. I can acknowledge that, in particular, without Tim Owen’s enthusiasm and doggedness we would have struggled more.

I would like to acknowledge the NSW Government and particularly Minister Ayres for their backing for 2 additional modules.  I will talk about that later.

Grant – What makes this Series unique Alan?

Alan – An important thing to remember Grant is that this Series is not training.  It is mentoring, coaching and providing the benefit of the decades of industry expertise of our SME deliverers.  Training comes later in the Framework. The core 11 Seminars of the Series is produced by a team of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in their particular field ALL of whom are Small to Medium Enterprise Owners in their own right.  My family and I formed the Goal Group early in the 14 years of Goal’s existence and a number of the Seminar Facilitators have been with us for the entire journey. The level of SME experience is quite simply enormous.  I have used my Australia wide SME connections to gather these experts and implant the Vision of Defence Ready.  For most of our topics there is Defence on-line or other introductory courses with a focus of how Defence wants its industry to work with them.  These are vitally important, and we ask all delegates to undertake those government offerings.  Our Seminar Series is unashamedly focused on what the SME needs to do, our challenges and approaches, and our considerations, when looking at these readiness elements.  It is about gaining the understanding of the Australian SME Defence Market, how we as SMEs are challenged and how we can respond and get help.  So – it is SMEs assisting SMEs.  The SMEs are regional, and city based, come from all areas of Defence Industry and have in common a passion for our industry.  The Seminars are peppered with SME Case Study and experience (not all of which is success but illustrates lessons learned) which is “gold”.

Grant – So tell me about the Structure of the Series Alan?

The Series is at what we call Level Zero.  We have 2 more levels in the framework, but they won’t be launched for a while yet.  Level Zero looks at an Explorer/Exponent and Expert mix that addresses the:

  1. Introduction to the Defence Market
  2. Business Development from an Australian SME perspective
  3. Tendering to Primes or Government as an SME
  4. Collaboration – the Goal Group is a shining example of such collaboration of SMEs
  5. Defence Industrial Security Program or DISP – a fabulous program run by very helpful people in Defence, but this is from an SME perspective
  6. Export Control and ITAR from an Australian SME perspective
  7. Cyber Security – a very topical subject with an SME focus
  8. Custodial Information Management – linked to cyber security
  9. Introduction to Defence ISO standards – our world guru on ISO gives SMEs insight into what Defence finds important and why
  10. Advanced ISO – as a nod to Defence’s need for very high standard delivery we look to provide essential information to our SMEs in niche areas or struggling to understand how to meet Defence’s or a Prime’s needs.
  1. Defence Legal Considerations – SMEs are often deterred from joining Defence opportunity due to confusion how certain Defence legal requirements impact them and what they can do as an SME. Our Defence legal expert takes the delegates through that.

Grant – That seems very comprehensive coverage Alan, but you mentioned 2 additional modules to make 13?

Alan – That’s right Grant.  We commenced the Defence Ready Level Zero Seminar Series in 2019 and held our first Seminar in December 2019.  Our plan was to recommence in February 2020…. something happened about that time that changed a lot of plans in Australia and of course Face to Face became impossible…a Pandemic.  With extreme agility, our team rapidly converted the face to face training to Remote Learning Technologies.  Also, the NSW government was very concerned about 2 potential impacts of COVID-19 and the lock down…. Mental Health and Business Continuity.  Generously funded by the NSW government, the Hunter Defence Task Force selected another SME already delivering in NSW for Business Continuity and the University of Newcastle/Everymind to deliver the Mental Health Seminar to make the 13 Seminars.  As it turns out, we are launching the Series with these 2 Seminars first as they cross all levels of experience.  Mental Health is delivered from focus on the delegate taking vital techniques and knowledge back to their company and Business Continuity leaves the delegate with a BC Plan they can finalise in their company, both very practical outcomes

 

Grant – OK, so does a delegate have to attend all of the Seminars?

Alan – No, but to get the Defence Ready Level Zero Certificate for your company it is necessary to be “Defence Ready across all topics.  The Series is designed to accept attendees of all backgrounds and experience levels at the beginnings or early days of their Defence capability. The Explorer/Exponent/Expert framework is designed to allow someone to gain from the series all the way through, or for someone to come in later who might already be more experienced in the industry.

We are working on a “Recognition of Prior Achievement (RPA) or a threshold-based checklist, for us to identify if a SME has already achieved the knowledge needed to move on in the Series.  For example, if the SME has worked in their filed for several years in Defence, we could agree RPA for the Defence Introduction.  If they have their required ISO certifications, perhaps they can receive RPA for the Intro to ISO Seminar.  However, it is important to note the SME should not be too complacent in respect to what they can learn from our Experts or our Case Studies.   I would recommend the SMEs carefully consider this and if necessary, seek to talk to our Facilitator.

Grant – How is the remote learning provided?

We have taken each Seminar and broken it down into various technologies (the Seminar Bundle).  Each Seminar is introduced by a Podcast like this one but focused on that Seminar “bundle”.  Where the potential Delegate can understand who, what, how and why for that Seminar.  All technologies are on-line.   Our Learning Management System is developed by an Australian SME and it will provide the platform for the Podcasts, any Videos, eLearning Modules and Pre-reading material.

The eLearning modules particularly are effective to convey the considerable background information needed to understand how Defence is a market, how the Defence Department is structures and operates from an outsider SME perspective and significant source information.

Each Seminar is then further broken into 1-hour long Webinars conducted on the unique, Australian government funded innovation platform called iSee.   Again, I am highlighting how we have stuck with Australian SMEs or innovators. A number of Australian Universities and associations use iSee already. We provide delegates with technology instructions, bump in testing and guide them to ensure they maximise their benefit in this medium. Goal Group has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the development of this series and many, many hours using Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel (SQEP) will decades of qualifications and experience.  Hence our unique perspective compared to undertaking the vital Commonwealth training modules on some of these topics

Grant – So give us a bit more overview on each Seminar?

Alan

Seminar 1 – Business Continuity is Facilitated by Rinkse Geerlings a finalist – Outstanding Security Consultant of the Year in 2019. She draws on more than 20 years’ experience gained during roles in Financial Services, Consulting and Training across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa and Europe.  Over several modules Rinske guides the delegates through the vital need to understand Business Continuity and its impact on SMEs culminating in structuring your own BC Plan.  It is targeted to all SMEs. The Key takeaway will be that BC approach and Plan to finalise at your business

Seminar 2 – Mental Health – We all understand the stress that the pandemic has brought to Australians.  Additionally, Defence has unique Mental health challenges, such as PTSD.  Everymind conduct local and national work in suicide prevention and mental health and wellbeing, including research, evaluations, piloting new programs to support communities and families, building the capacity of diverse workforces to contribute to the prevention of suicide and mental ill-health, developing policy, and delivering national media and communication initiatives. Mental Health is facilitated by Associate Professor Carmel Lougland and her team led by Dr Sara Bartlett.  It is a pleasure to have the Everymind Team onboard and the connection with the University of Newcastle strengthened

Seminar 3 – Introduction to Defence is driven by myself and Boris Novak another successful Defence SME but in different fields than Goal.  Alan in this facilitator role draws on being CEO of Goal Professional Services and Managing Partner of the Goal Group and a Past President of the Australian Industry & Defence Network (AIDN) retaining a role on the AIDN NSW Committee. My specific areas of expertise are strategic direction, project development, bid preparation and programme management.  I was a Chair of the Synthetic Environment Working Group and am a highly experienced Programme Manager. This Seminar includes other SME Case Studies.  It has information rich eLearning modules. Any SME in Defence can benefit from this Seminar bundle but it is particularly focused on the SME waning to get into Defence or in the early stages or even needing to understand why they are not as successful as they might have hoped!

Seminar 4 – Business Development 101 – This Seminar bundle is Facilitated by myself, Boris Novak and Jacqui Daley the principle of the Measured Marketer. When it comes to marketing, Jacqui has been around the block a few times. Jacqui has led the marketing at a range of organisations of all sizes, in Australia and the UK, and worked as a digital consultant across loads of industries. She’s Won loads of awards. Failed (fast) and learnt from it. She is an Experienced CMO with 18 years working in small, medium and large businesses in Australia and the UK. We cover the structure of your required BD including vital aspects such as marketing, trade shows, pitches, brochures, quad charts and the like.

Seminar 5 – Tendering in Defence – This Seminar bundle is Facilitated by Stewart Barr the Principle of Stewart Barr and Associates a very successful Defence SME with vast experience in tendering to Primes and also to Defence through Primes or direct. Stewart is a graduate of the Royal Military College – Duntroon, the Royal Military College of Science – Shrivenham UK, Australian Command and Staff Course, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of NSW, and an MBA from Deakin University. He covers the structure of your required BD including vital aspects such as marketing, trade shows, pitches, brochures, quad charts and the like. A gem is how to effectively “answer the exam question”.

Seminar 6 – Collaboration – This Seminar bundle is Facilitated by Boris Novak. Boris is a former RAAF Engineer Officer and founded a Systems Engineering business. Boris has significant experience in forming collaborative alliances, collaborations that work, others that don’t, and he had a close involvement with the precursor to the Defence Innovation Hub, Defence’s Rapid Prototyping Development and Evaluation Program. Boris was personally seconded the program in a senior management role in the program’s earlier days, and latterly on the RPDE Board.  Having exited the business he founded, and successfully selling all the IP globally, Boris generously offers his experience in Innovation, delivering technology, the RPDE program, manufacturing and aerospace.

Seminar 7 – Defence Legal Considerations – Daniel Mendoza-Jones is a corporate and commercial lawyer with broad experience advising Defence Industry. Daniel is a trusted adviser in the fields of aerospace, aviation, Defence industry and Government. Having worked in private and government practice, Daniel’s commercial advice is often sought by government agencies and by small and large organisations doing business with government. Daniel is also a Legal Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force Specialist Reserve. He has served as Honorary Solicitor and on the board of directors for a number of not-for-profit organisations.

Seminars 8 and 9 – Introduction and Advanced ISO – Facilitated by Michael McLean of McLean Management Consultants. Michael is a recipient of the Dr Joseph Juran Medal for services to Australian & International Quality Management. Michael is an ISO Accredited Trainer (quite rare) who is highly experienced in mentoring and coaching ISO requirements. He is a Fellow of AICD and the Australian Organisation of Quality and a Certified Management Consultant (also quite rare). He is an accredited consultant and trainer for Competitive Manufacturing / Lean Systems and Frontline Management. He is Chairman of Certex International Certification Advisory Board – JAS-ANZ Accredited in ISO 17021:2011, for ISO9001, ISO14001 and AS 4801, RCSA Service Delivery Standard; NSW Health Standards and Conditions for Provision of Locums!  Michael takes delegates on a structured ISO journey from the basics of what Defence require to the importance of the advanced areas of ISO.

Seminars 10 and 11 – Cyber Ready and Custodial Information Management.  Couldn’t be more topical at present. Ray Harvey is the Internal Threat Guru for Cider House ICT. Ray is passionate about ensuring that Australian businesses are protecting themselves from evolving cyber threats and are as competitive as they can be in the Defence market. Ray is ably assisted by Rizwan Mahmood the Director, Data Security and Compliance, e-Safe Systems Global. His expertise includes implementing data security, regulatory compliance and mitigating human risk to security with 15 years of in establishing and managing R&Ds, providing consultancy to private and public sector organisation, pre-sales and commercialisation of products and services. The products he has designed and managed have won several IT awards and have been adopted by over a million users.  Recent changes to the nature of Cyber security in Australia and the USA have clearly demonstrated that there is tightening of Cybersecurity requirements to contractors and subcontractors. Custodial Information Security (CIS) is an emerging field of cyber security that aims to overcome many of the limitations inherent in traditional forms of cyber security. At its heart, CIS mediates the relationship between information and the authorised users who require access to that information. These are vital seminars indeed.

Seminar 12 – DISP from an industry perspective. The Department of Defence (Defence) requires any Industry Entities to hold an appropriate level of DISP membership when working on sensitive or classified information or assets; storing or transporting Defence weapons or explosive ordnance; providing security services for Defence bases and facilities; or as a result of a Defence business requirement. Facilitated by Kara Kennedy, this Seminar addresses the DISP requirements from an SME perspective to significantly complement the DISP training SMEs receive as part of the Defence Industrial Security program. Kara is a security strategic planning professional with 20+ year career within the industry and experienced across a range of highly regulated industries including aviation, finance, Defence and the nuclear industry. Kara has worked as security advisor to Government on nuclear security matters and has trained at an international level having attended numerous training courses and conferences in Europe and the US on physical security, trusted insider threats, and security culture. Kara has served as a member of the ASIO Security Construction and Equipment Committee (SCEC) and is a current member of the NSW Security Licensing and Enforcement Directorate (SLED) Advisory Council.

Seminar 13 – Last but not least Export Control and ITAR. Even if you don’t plan to export at this stage or ever, International Trade in Arms Regulations are infused in all Defence materials and matters.  It is difficult to know where you can go in Defence to not need knowledge of ITAR and Export Controls related to other nations and Australia. Facilitated by Goal’s Kevin Chenney this seminar compliments the Defence learnings on the subject by providing an SME perspective on its impacts.  Kevin spent twelve years in the Royal Australian Navy and has worked within Defence Industry for the majority of his time post service culminating in undertaking the Goal R&D efforts in this topic. He is now an internationally acknowledged Export Control/ITAR/EAR specialist and is responsible for compliance audits, reviews and training in this area. This has included delivering face to face training, developing online training modules and supporting clients in best practice Export Control processes and procedures.

Grant – a very comprehensive Series Alan …what would you say is “the benefits in a nutshell” of this Series?

Alan – Industry led by SME Industry experts in their fields, this Series provides a unique perspective on the key subject areas that a SME in Australia must conquer to maximise their chances of success in the Australian Defence market.  The Framework, as I mentioned, then will move in the future to key core areas where Industry specifically needs assistance.

Expressions of Interest are to be sent to Jenny Pitt at AIDN (jennypitt@aidn.org.au)