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Senior Management Development Programme (SMDP) Feature: Tom Murray

Tom Murray, Technical Manager at Woolworths, recently completed USB-ED’s Senior Management Development Programme (SMDP). Keeping it real, Tom shared exclusively with USB-ED that he initially did not want to do the programme at all. Encouraged into it by his boss, he shares that he avoided all mention of it before the programme began - even waiting until the last minute to complete the necessary paperwork!

He shares that, “I’d hesitate a guess that my initial motivation may be slightly unexpected... I didn’t want to do this programme, and had avoided any questions around it at work when it was mentioned. It was my boss who decided that I would do it, and she wouldn’t accept my protestations about senior management development not being an interest of mine. I continued my silent protest by waiting until the last minute to sign the paperwork on my way to the campus on the Monday morning. And I possibly even went as far as to answer that ‘I didn’t want to be here’ when introducing ourselves to the class… But, just two days into it, by the Wednesday, all of my initial resistance was gone.”

Even though much of the content included subjects that he was being exposed to for the first time, he shared that his programme highlights were numerous. Tom mentioned that it incorporated a broad spectrum of knowledge, which was further complimented by the lecturers and their own subject understanding.

He noted that while it may not be a quintessential highlight, he really enjoyed being thrown into the deep-end of things and experiencing those ‘ah-ha’ moments - be it with an individual assignment, or working in group settings. “For me,” he shares, “The BDAL was the greatest highlight and a great practical application of not only the programme content but also the ability to work with what were five strangers initially.” The BDAL (Business Driven Action Learning) is about taking the academic models you learn and applying them in practice.

“Overall,” he says, “My main takeaway was that people, be it our teams or immediate colleagues, are the ones that drive our success.” This was further emphasized by two phrases that were mentioned during the programme that really struck home - one being that ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, and ‘What got us here, won’t get us there’. For prospective SMDP delegates, Tom shared that he would thoroughly recommend doing the programme - a complete change of heart for an initial senior management development sceptic!

In a rapidly changing environment, organisations are being exposed to a completely new way of working. Over the course of 6 months, this senior management training empowers participants with the tools to:

  • Develop leadership thinking
  • Explore strategic concepts and integrative strategy
  • Evaluate new frameworks and tools to support sustainable business
  • Interpret the challenges of globalisation and its effect on business
  • Assess and report on the financial viability of organisations
  • Develop foresight and navigate shifts in organisational forms
  • Determine the importance of changing business models
  • Formulate strategies for customer value creation using design thinking
  • Apply project management tools and techniques to plan and execute projects efficiently and effectively
  • Interpret and demonstrate the relationship between various strategic, operational and leadership themes


Our 2021 Senior Management Development Programmes (SMDP)s are still open for enrolment here.

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