Case study: Interim Academic Dean at the Australian Institute of Business

Interim Academic Dean at the Australian Institute of Business

Adam Kyriacou, Managing Partner at Odgers Interim, talks to Ingrid Day about her recent interim role at the Australian Institute of Business

The issue

The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) is a private higher education institute, offering online post graduate courses across Australia and the rest of the world. It boasts what is nationally recognised as Australia's largest and most progressive MBA.

In 2018 AIB brought in a new CEO to assess costs, reinvigorate revenue streams and bring a fresh outlook to the business. The CEO in question, Paul Wappett, saw the need for a new executive team with the aim of building a more collegiate and contemporary environment that embodied a ‘shared values ethos’.

The candidate

A key role in Paul’s executive team would be the academic dean, responsible for ensuring high-quality academic programmes and driving the academic policies, procedures and practices that would align with the new vision of the business.  

To bring this about, Paul brought on board Ingrid Day as the interim academic dean. With just some of her previous roles including executive director of learning and teaching at the University of Adelaide, interim executive dean for the faculty of business, education, law and arts at the University of South Queensland and assistant vice chancellor at Massey International, Ingrid brought a wealth of relevant knowledge and hands-on experience to the role.

The solution

Ingrid immediately embarked on a transformation program to drive more innovative work practices, build a more engaged team and a modernised approach to AIB’s educational enterprise. Her policy redesign made them more-user friendly and aligned them with the quality requirements of the reaccreditation process; where previously policies had primarily comprised a set of directives, Ingrid’s approach brought a more practical orientation that has resonated with students and staff.

At the same time as bringing everything ‘up to speed’ she ensured she brought the workforce on the journey of modernisation. This meant engaging staff in decision-making and ensuring they had a say in how their day-to-day work could be revitalised, as well as equipping them with skillsets and expertise to be at the frontier of online learning.

Further key changes that Ingrid brought about included a comprehensive reframing of approaches to assessment and academic integrity, developing a teaching and learning framework which articulated AIB’s core academic philosophies, strategies for student retention, and staff training in cultural awareness. She also implemented a mandatory higher education module in online teaching and secured increased support for research activities. Her investment and belief in the capability of staff engendered a deep sense of optimism and an increased commitment to the values and aspirations of the organisation.

The outcome

As interim academic dean, Ingrid had a hugely positive impact on the organisation. By welcoming their new ideas and approaches, and inviting participating in decision-making, Ingrid has ensured that staff are well and truly part of the shared vision being pursued by Paul and his executive team. Her approach is strategic, pragmatic and firmly grounded in real-world practice.

Paul was so impressed with Ingrid’s performance as an interim that he offered her the permanent position of academic dean, which she started in June this year. 

For more information please contact Adam Kyriacou.


Paul Wappett at 26/09/2019 06:59 said:

Thanks for showcasing this, Adam. Ingrid has been such an important addition to the AIB team and having the opportunity to have her join us on an interim basis to start with allowed both Ingrid and AIB to have a great look at each other and to make sure that there was a great fit. We really appreciated Odgers (and, in particular, your) responsiveness and expertise in putting our interim arrangements into place. Thank you.

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