Creating Systems Engineers for the Future
The Department of Defence’s procurement and sustainment arm, CASG, has over 2000 personnel in the Engineering and Technical (E&T) Function. The ongoing development and professionalisation of this workforce have traditionally been conducted in an inconsistent manner and, in order to correct this, requires a systemised method of building competencies and assurance of roles.
The CASG tasked a SkillsLogiQ / Quintessential partnership to develop an Engineering & Technical Competency Framework (ETCF) to:
- Provide a common standard for the staff performance of the CASG E&T function, and
- Improve effectiveness of future workforce planning in an environment of high demand for competent engineering and technical professionals.
The ETCF was to provide a role-specific description of the competencies required to perform the E&T job function comprising Skills, Knowledge and Behaviours that are aligned with the Defence Personnel Group (DPG) Occupation Job Skills and also One Defence Behaviours.
In addition to being an aid for general E&T workforce development, the project was also relevant to two functional communities:
i) The engineering job family itself as an aid in developing and maintaining their own competencies; and,
ii) Technical staff without formal engineering qualification who possess an equivalent level of skills and experience.
The ETCF was developed in a staged process of:
- Analysis: the systematic analysis of all relevant competency models, frameworks and Systems Engineering Bodies of Knowledge (SEBoK) applicable to the E&T Function, including benchmark frameworks from:
- UK Ministry of Defence (Mod)
- US Navy
- Defense Acquisition University (DAU)
- Engineers Australia
- Synthesis: the critical analysis of specific requirements needed for effective conduct of the E&T Function from the CASG business perspective. In particular, this required identifying the key elements impacting E&T roles as applied to the CASG Defence operational context as well as the Engineering role in providing technical advice and facilitation across the project lifecycle. A key construct in this synthesis was the “Vee’ Model which incorporates the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook (INCOSE 2012) definition of life cycle stages and their purposes or activities.
- Sense-making: This phase involved the identification of high priority competencies essential for the Engineering function, matched to CASG functional requirements for identifying a rationalised competency set that provide a profile of the Competent Engineer. This involved a consolidation of all identified competencies viewed as being essential for effective Engineering and Technical job performance.
The E&T competencies were also aligned to professionalisation standards of Engineers Australia and consequently provided a clear pathway that builds towards Chartered Status within the profession. The ETCF also enabled non-Engineering staff, and the wider organisation, to understand the E&T job function and to have greater clarity of the support provided by E&T staff, particularly in the areas of technical advice and facilitation across the project lifecycle.
Subsequent activity involved the expansion of the ETCF framework by mapping it out to a SPO environment. It was expanded and contextually modified to encompass a range of functions to including Material Logistics (ML), Programs, Commercial and Corporate Support. Actual data was collected from several SPO environments. This enabled the competency requirements for each role to be compared to the competencies possessed by the role incumbents, thereby allowing for a gap analysis to be performed. Following a gap analysis, a Learning & Development strategy was devised in order to close the gaps between actual and desired states, with individualised learning plans created and implemented as part of a career pathway for professional development and growth.
THE OUTCOMES & BENEFITS
The primary outcome of this activity was a detailed Competency Framework that enabled a detailed understanding of the building blocks of systems engineers in Defence. All research findings were detailed in a fully comprehensive report, which was also delivered in the form of a practical framework that could be applied to undertake a workforce analysis of existing SPO environments.
The benefits of the activity included:
- A comprehensive definition of a bespoke CASG E&T suite of competencies
- Alignment to Defence Personnel Group convention as part of their professionalisation pathways
- The ability to conduct a gap analysis between current and desired levels of competency for a CASG SPO environment
- Individualised professional development tool
- Ability relate competency gaps with existing training offerings within the Defence system
- An ability to identify and prioritise professional development priorities for the SPO workforce
I have known Pat for approximately 20 years, initially meeting when working at Boeing, then moving to Eurocopter and staying in contact ever since. I
have found Pat to be one of those rare individuals who uses a personal touch to achieve technical outcomes. Pat’s strengths lay in his broad technical background and experience, coupled with genuine empathy and ability to develop high-performing teams.
I recently worked closely with Patrick during the development and delivery of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) funded Australia Awards Fellowship Program entitled, ‘Responding to Skilled Worker Demand: Improving Quality, Leadership and Management of TVET’ in Vietnam. Throughout the delivery of this Fellowship Program Patrick was responsible for facilitating training activities in the areas of transformational leadership, personal leadership, leading teams, project management and change management. Patrick did an outstanding job in this position demonstrating his agility in effectively and efficiently responding to emerging challenges as well as contextualizing training content to meet the needs of his audience, in this case senior leaders from Vietnam’s Ministry of Construction.
Patrick Albina is a highly intelligent, insightful professional who has the rare ability to balance a high level of technical capacity with a sophisticated approach to dealing with people at all levels. And because of this powerful dual perspective, Patrick has outstanding influencing and engagement skills.
Working with Patrick Albina on the AIR9000 Ph8 bid was a truly positive experience. Pat’s attention to detail assured the highest quality material was prepared and submitted. His enthusiasm and vigour for the product being offered never waned, along with his determination to ensure all customer requirements were fully satisfied. I wholly recommend Patrick to any organisation looking to engage a dedicated, self-motivated and highly personable team-player.
Patrick Albina is a highly motivated, intelligent professional with keen skills of insight and perspective that are required to be effective in managing organisational complexity. He has the capacity to embrace the technical aspects as well as the people and relational issues which makes him excellent in his influencing and sense making skills to understand and make long term effective change in organisations.
Since mid 2014, Patrick’s coaching has helped me define and develop a values based approach to my career. We consistently meet to discuss my progress and I receive objective feedback from Patrick that I put into our action before our next meeting. This action and feedback loop is the most powerful and effective professional development work I have done to date. For anyone looking to accelerate their career, I highly recommend contacting Patrick.
Patrick has been the lead consultant on a number of projects in recent years for CASG, ranging from a comprehensive tailored learning and development framework, asset management principles adaptation to strategic organisational reform and change management. His skills, experience and capability to communicate effectively and strategically with all stakeholders is outstanding. As well as delivering exceptional value, he is always going above and beyond, delivering ongoing strategic value to the organisation more broadly.
We engaged Patrick to provide subject matter expertise to our Product Management Implementation Project, established to deliver a tailored design and implementation of ISO 55000 Asset Management principles to enhance CH-47F Chinook Product Management. Throughout our 12 month engagement, he provided valuable guidance and practical assistance in all project stages including, problem framing and design; change management; procedure development and practical implementation; observation and feedback; and communication (internal and external). He proved a highly effective enabler to achieving our objectives and ultimately a successful and resilient project outcome.