Indonesia Veterinary Leadership - a unique and timely initiative for the veterinary profession

20 November 2014

Twenty-five young managers from Indonesia's veterinary services have just completed the pilot Indonesia Veterinary Leadership (IVL) course. This leadership course has been a fantastic success at many levels.

The collaboration between the University of Sydney and the lead Indonesian veterinary schools of Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) and Gadjah Mada Univeristy (UGM) has delivered a well-balanced postgraduate course that is helping the national veterinary service address the key issues of leadership, management and governance in Indonesia. This concept of equipping veterinarians with non-technical skills to increase the level of impact they achieve is based on the success of the USyd Masters in Veterinary Public Health Management, the USyd Faculty of Veterinary Science coursework Masters that has underpinned the collaboration with the two Indonesian veterinary schools.

The IVL course is being delivered under the Australian Indonesia Partnership for Emerging Infectious Diseases, a development program for the national veterinary services of Indonesia being delivered by Australia's federal Department of Agriculture in partnership with Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture.

Indonesian veterinary academics have developed the IVL course material with the facilitation and mentoring of University of Sydney staff. The academics, 'the sensational six', have gone on to give the course with great commitment, flair and professionalism.

Pilot course participants have been selected from central government and a number of provinces. The selection criteria required that the participants should be 'up-and-coming' middle managers with experience of program and staff management. The participants were universally highly motivated, bright and enthusiastic. These young managers are a wonderfully talented resource and will form the core of veterinary leaders in the near future.

The IVL introduces a transforming perspective on leadership showing how leadership can be at all levels. Sigit Nurtanto, a participant that is Head of Epidemiology and Economics for the national animal health service reflects that, "IVL Training completely changed my perspective of leadership, although I may not be in the position of a leader right now, but still I can be a good leader". For Nurcahyo Nugroho, a veterinarian in national quarantine service with responsibility for exports, the program "began understanding of the whole concept of leadership, made me motivated to apply this knowledge and gave me a new horizon for leadership in my work".

The IVL course is designed for postgraduates, that is, veterinarians with work experience at middle management level. It consists of a five day residential, a four month work place assignment and a concluding three day residential. The combination of experiential learning with a work place assignment has been very effective. The first pilot IVL course was completed in June 2014 with outstanding endorsement from course participants, course mentors and line managers. The second IVL course is now underway and will be completed in January 2015.

This postgraduate course addresses the three core aspects of leadership - personal leadership, leading others and organisational leadership - and is made up of a series of modules including individual differences, ethics, career management, stress and time management, motivation, team building, communications, coaching and feedback, work design and change management.

The delivery approach implemented for the IVL course is highly innovative given the traditional rote learning approach mainly used in Indonesian veterinary schools. The learning philosophy of the IVL course limited the use of one dimensional, lecture based learning and engaged the dynamism, enthusiasm and problem solving capabilities of the participants with extensive group and plenary discussions, experiential learning and role plays.

The Indonesian veterinary professional body, the Indonesian Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA), has endorsed the concept of leadership training for veterinarians and an accreditation process for the postgraduate IVL course is being explored.

The timing for introduction of leadership as a component of veterinary education is ideal. The OIE Guidelines for Veterinary Education Core Curriculum released in 2013 includes leadership competencies and until now veterinary school in Indonesia have had little emphasis on these in veterinary training. Further, ASEAN is being guided by the OIE in an initiative to standardize veterinary competencies to support progress toward future free trade for livestock and livestock products in the region.

Australia, through the University of Sydney and the AIP-EID, is supporting development of vital training in collaboration with the Indonesian Veterinary Schools, the IVMA and the Government of Indonesia. Drh Krisnandana Head of the Subdirectorate Veterinary Institutions states that the "mental revolution" initiated by IVL will contribute to building the institutional culture needed to strengthen delivery of veterinary services in Indonesia.