A recent workshop run for the University's highly successful Leadership Development for Women (LDW) program provided an opportunity to consider leadership issues in an increasingly competitive higher education environment.
It's an environment in which we have to meet the challenges of balancing the University's traditional functions of academic scholarship and research with the need to respond directly and rapidly to new opportunities, and the need to generate revenue and to lead and manage effectively.
The challenges we face can best be met by a commitment to encouraging a ‘culture of leadership' which recognises that we must all lead in own way and not simply look to the Executive, or the Deans, or our administrative managers for leadership.
We should consider how to empower all staff to embrace leadership and responsibility, as well as building relevance into all our actions so that we build better mechanisms to capitalise on new opportunities and meet the challenges of change.
Education is becoming more influential than ever in the construction of knowledge economies and democratic societies. Opportunities arise from the convergent impacts of globalisation, the increasing importance of knowledge as a principal driver of growth, and the information and communication revolution.
In the words of Charles Darwin: "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but those most responsive to change."
If we are to achieve the aim of being counted among the world's top 50 universities by 2050 we must capitalise on change as a most vital ingredient in the on-going development of UWA .
We must embrace reforms in a way that continues to allow us to address our mission of international excellence. Responsiveness to change is now clearly critical for Western Australia if we are to remain a prosperous and progressive State.
But responsiveness also increasingly means more than just working smarter, co-opting new systems and technologies, being more customer focused and being more pro-active in new markets.
Fundamental change is also now involved, as major organisations such as ours both come to operate in new ways and also change the character of organisational cultures, particularly by encouraging leadership.
At UWA we must continue to work to remove lingering structural barriers that impede the careers of staff or constrain their opportunities to contribute fully.
In this way we can meet our key University priority which is to recruit, develop and retain the highest quality staff, many of them with leadership qualities, and to provide a working environment that enables all staff to optimise their contribution to the University.