An interview with alumna Kelly Keates

In Adelaide, where I am based, there is a group called the Industry Leaders Fund, which provides grants for training to potential South Australian leaders. In 2012 I used a grant from the Fund to participate in a short course at Harvard – my first taste of Executive Education and indeed of any personal development or education since completing my BA.

I loved it, so applied again to the Fund and this time chose the three-week OAMLP programme in Oxford. I was attracted to the programme principally because of the triple helix approach described on the website. I really enjoyed the three-pronged process of formal learning in the morning, then working on a case study as a group, and making a presentation in the afternoon. This implementation approach really helped my learning, and made it easier to put it into practice later.

The programme was very fast and pretty tiring mentally – and even physically, because activities including Tai Chi and morning jogs along the Thames were built into the timetable. But this is what gave it its all-encompassing, individualised, coaching atmosphere. Everyone benefited from Lalit and his team’s individually tailored programme, using pre-completed profiling tools from the preparation period.

I remember how, during the programme, Lalit took the time to sit with me and work through the problem that I had presented; and he has since followed up my progress.

The opportunity to present my own ‘problem’ as a case study was a really distinctive part of the programme. Just as with the formal case studies, the group discussed it and came up with different solutions, which were really helpful and insightful. It was also interesting to be part of the group and hear more about other people’s challenges. They were different to mine, but also strangely similar.

I loved doing the negotiation skills too, but my absolute favourite session was a simulation in which we were given a map and some objectives about protecting our families/team – and asked to work out where we would build a fort. What would be the best defensive position and the one with the best access to resources?