Taking on the task for higher education calls for thoughtful, bold and innovative leadership. It is with this objective that The HEAD Foundation (THF) organised Impact Through Leadership (ITL), a leadership development program for Indonesian higher education leaders held in Belitung Island, Indonesia from 23 to 25 May 2016.
ITL was held in partnership with the Indonesian Ministry of Research Technology and Higher Education (Ristekdikti), the INSEAD Global Leadership Centre (IGLC), Indonesian-based consulting firm SS Knowledge and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE).
Over 25 rectors from select universities in Indonesia attended the program, with faculty members giving lectures and facilitating discussions on various leadership issues. The speakers included Professor J. Matthew Hartley, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Penn GSE; Professor Alan Ruby, Penn GSE Senior Fellow; Dr Satryo Brodjonegoro, former Indonesian Director General of Higher Education at the Ministry of National Education; and THF’s Senior Advisor Henrik Bresman, who is also the Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD.
ITL came about as a way to help develop leadership capacity for higher education leaders in Indonesia. It aims to equip participants with the capacity to implement positive change for their home institutions and for their country.
“The rate of change facing the world is unprecedented, which in turn poses extraordinary challenges for leaders in education – around the world and in Indonesia. These educational leaders are charged with a task whose significance is difficult to overstate: to educate the next generation of leaders society needs to survive and thrive,” explained Associate Professor Bresman.
“With this context in mind, ITL is designed as a journey through which higher education leaders in Indonesia will have the opportunity to collectively reflect on the challenges they are facing, to obtain tools to take on those challenges, to device plans on how to use them when back at their home institutions, and to build a community of experienced and supportive peers.”
The event marks a milestone for the Foundation as a Singapore-based think tank making an impact beyond national borders, while collaborating with experts from around the world.
Moreover, THF contributed in promoting the identification of issues for the participants to grapple with and support them as leaders as they strengthen higher education in Indonesia and the region as a whole.
“What we are trying here is an approach that encourages rectors and senior officials to learn from each other, as they diagnose problems unique to their institutions and craft solutions together,” said Professor Ruby.
Participants were involved in breakout groups where concepts and ideas from the lectures were applied, relying on each other’s experience to find solutions to practical issues.
Rector of Gadjah Mada University, Professor Ir. Dwikorita Karnawati, one of the participants in the programme, felt that the wide range of lessons they learnt from the ITL, ranging from benchmarking to networking, were very important and also kept in mind the specifics of Indonesian culture. She also acknowledged that the programme reinforced in her the importance of understanding the background of the people that higher education leaders, such as herself, will be influencing so as to achieve better educational outcomes.
The programme also promoted a culture of collaboration among the participants so as to ensure that there is continuity among the higher education leadership in Indonesia in improving themselves. As such, participants will develop a community of experienced and supportive practitioners that they can rely on and contribute to, including sharing experiences and best-practices, long after the ITL concludes.
“Countries are looking to their systems of higher education to help their societies develop and their economies grow. More than ever, we need effective leaders to guide universities,” observed Professor Hartley.
Concurring, Dr Satryo said that the mind-set these leaders have to bring back is that they are all colleagues, so that they are able to work together and achieve their agreed objective.