• The program aims to inspire, develop and support high-potential women.
    The program aims to inspire, develop and support high-potential women. Supplied

Aurecon and Defence have launched a new development program to provide women working on Defence projects with the leadership skills to advance their careers. 

The Ascend Program will run between September and November and will be delivered virtually.

It is a program that aims to inspire, develop and support high-potential women to step into leadership roles. The program also develops participants’ courage and capability to set up and drive business outcomes and challenge the status-quo.

The Ascend Program was developed by Aurecon in partnership with psychology and behavioural science company Inkling to foster a more diverse workforce in leadership positions.

“Engineering and Defence are two sectors where traditionally female participation in the workforce and, consequently female leaders, are underrepresented compared to the general population,” Aurecon managing director, Defence and National Security ANZ, David Barnes, said. “We want to change that as it’s only through increasing diversity that we will nurture and advance the diverse thinking required to solve some of society’s toughest problems.

“Given the important role the ADF and STEM industries continue to play in 2020 responding to the bushfires crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and significant infrastructure stimulus spends for upcoming Defence projects, I am so proud to be able to partner with our client to jointly further strengthen the leadership capability of our high-potential female leaders.”

Defence First Assistant Secretary Monique Hamilton said the joint Ascend Program was a key initiative for both organisations to develop a strong pipeline of female leaders.

“This initiative provides both Aurecon and Defence a meaningful way for our female future leaders to collaborate and learn from each other. Simultaneously, this will enable our high potential women to develop supportive networks and relationships through participation in a joint development program,” Hamilton said.

“The joint Ascend Program has been designed for women who want to step forward and influence the shift to empower female leaders within the Defence workforce, instead of waiting for the change to come to them.”

Aurecon Diversity and Inclusion manager ANZ Penny Rush said the Ascend Program is proven to increase the confidence and leadership skills of women employed at Aurecon.

“In a recent survey of Aurecon women who have completed the Ascend Program, more than 73 per cent said that they have applied for new or stretch opportunities. The same percentage of respondents said that the program has empowered them to fast-track career progression. This highlights the real value of Ascend, and we look forward to bringing it to the Defence workforce,” Rush said.

“The program will teach participants about why playing to their strengths is the single most powerful driver of improved performance in the workplace and will help increase courage, conviction and their own authentic voice. It will also inspire participants to set career goals, and build a pathway to leadership success.”

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