Management, Command, and Leadership: the John Monash Oration for 2014

Monash Foundaton Oration 1108114

An audience of 120 people gathered on Monday August 11 to hear two outstanding young speakers address a complex and often misunderstood leadership topic for Australia.

Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG, and Dr Katherine Daniell, 2005 John Monash Scholar and leader in the water industry, spoke to the topic: “Management, Command, and Leadership”.

Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG served with distinction in the Australian Army and Special Air Service Regiment. His service included operational deployments to East Timor, Fiji, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is a recipient of the highest award in the Australian military honours system, the Victoria Cross for Australia, awarded in 2011 for the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril in Afghanistan. Ben was also awarded the Medal for Gallantry in 2006 and the Commendation for Distinguished Service in 2013. Since retiring from the Armed Forces, Ben has been a leading strategic advisor to Government and industry on a broad range of defence, security and personnel issues. Ben is the Deputy Chair of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council for Veterans Mental Health.

Dr Katherine Daniell is also a distinguished young leader. She has a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with Honours and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in French, both from the University of Adelaide. Katherine won her John Monash Scholarship in 2005 and undertook a joint PhD at the ANU and AgroParisTech-ENGREF, France. Her thesis addressed sustainable development and water management. Katherine returned to Canberra, and is now a Research Fellow in the ANU’s Centre for Policy Innovation and the HC Coombs Policy Forum. She has around fifty academic publications including book chapters, papers and reports, and a book. In 2010 she was elected a Fellow of the Peter Cullen Trust, working on policy, science and politics in water and the environment.

The event was hosted by the Commonwealth Bank, and the speakers were introduced by CBA Group Executive, Institutional Banking and Markets, Ms Kelly Bayer Rosmarin and John Monash Foundation Chairman Ms Jillian Segal AM. The audience included a large number of industry leaders, leaders of universities and community organisations, parliamentarians, John Monash Scholars, and interested community members.  At the Oration Ms Bayer Rosmarin announced a three Scholarship partnership between the Commonwealth Bank and the John Monash Foundation (click here for further details).

This was the third John Monash Oration, a forum designed to expand the dialogue around Australian leadership. In 2012 General Peter Cosgrove AC MC – now Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC, Governor-General of Australia – and Dr Jacqui Mowbray addressed the forum on “Are leaders born or do they develop to meet the need?”. Last year parliamentarian Malcolm Turnbull MP and Dr Aruna Sathanapally spoke on “Leadership in uncertain times”.

On Monday evening Ben Roberts-Smith provided perspectives into military command and leadership and corporate leadership and management. He referred to battlefield command, and identified parallels between military and corporate challenges and structures. He drew upon a deep knowledge of military history to illuminate John Monash’s outstanding leadership. The text of his speech is available to download here: Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG – John Monash Oration 2014.

Following Ben’s address, Katherine Daniell highlighted her own link to Sir John Monash, not just through the scholarship but also through her great grandfather. She detailed the complex challenges facing the water industry, and its importance to Australia. Her speech here (Dr Katherine Daniell – John Monash Oration 2014) outlined the importance of managing not just the economics and actions, but also the national, organizational, and personal relationships.

The speeches were followed by a half hour question-and-answer session moderated by Foundation Chairman Ms Jillian Segal. Challenging questions about the value of education, importance of diversity, and personal style were raised and addressed in a lively and attentive forum.

The event was covered by several media outlets (the Australian Financial Review, The Australian). The Foundation will continue and expand the John Monash Orations, and intends to bring to other cities in future years.

Image: Mr Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG, Ms Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, Ms Jillian Segal AM, and Dr Katherine Daniell (Courtesy: Giselle Haber)