Standards Australia: giving emerging leaders a voice in their industry

australian standards

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Many industry and tech leaders know robust, clearly defined standards keep our nation’s economy running like a well-oiled machine.

Standards play an important role in everyday life. From the buildings we live and work in, to the clothes we put on every morning, to the transport we take to work; standards help to guarantee the safety and reliability of it all.

But where do standards actually come from, and who’s responsible for their development? 

Standards Australia is giving emerging leaders the opportunity to find out. 

Their General Manager of People and Performance, Emma Lowes, spoke to SmartCompany about how technical leaders can get involved in developing standards and the non-profit’s initiative called “NEXTGen”, which educates them on how to do that. 

What is Standards Australia?

Standards Australia is the nation’s peak non-government standards development organisation. 

The organisation works with stakeholders, including representatives from SMEs, regulators, designers and consultants, to develop and adopt standards that improve the safety, quality and efficiency of products and services, ultimately improving Australia’s economic performance. 

“Standards are documents that set out specifications, procedures and guidelines that aim to ensure products, services, and systems are safe, consistent, and reliable,” Lowes explains. “Our role is to facilitate the development of Australian standards,” which the not-for-profit does for 13 industries. 

Standards Australia helps navigate the complex process of standards development 

There are six stages of the standards development process: project proposal, project kick-off, drafting, public comment, ballot and publication. 

Proponents (that’s who submit a proposal for a new standard) are supported by Standards Australia engagement officers and project managers through each stage of the process which can span 12 -24 months. 

“While this might sound like a lot, Standards Australia employees are across, and assist, the whole process.” Says Lowes. “From kick-off to publication, we’re there every step of the way”. 

In addition to supporting businesses through the standard development process, Standards Australia has a valuable initiative aimed at educating emerging leaders about the benefits of contributing to standards development. 

Making room for diverse, future voices in standards development

Standards Australia’s NEXTGen Program is a 10-month professional development opportunity for emerging industry and technical leaders in the early to mid-stages of their career (around five to seven years’ experience). 

The immersive program is cost-free and participants gain inside knowledge of how national and international standards are created and their impact. 

Applications for the NEXTgen program are open until 30 June. Full details for how to apply are on the NEXTgen website. 

Participants also learn how they can get involved in standards development and the benefits of doing so. 

“We really want to encourage emerging technical leaders to get involved and start making a difference”, says Lowes. “Standards touch every facet of our lives, and diversity of thought and experience is important in developing documents that affect all Australian people.”

Being a voice in standards development benefits businesses and entire industries 

“By getting involved in developing standards, businesses can share their expertise and help set important metrics and guidelines for their industry.” Says Lowes. 

The benefits of understanding and participating in the standards development process exist at an industry and organisational level. Both benefit from diverse voices sharing their expertise and ensuring a broad range of stakeholders are represented.   

Gaining an understanding of how standards are developed and implemented also means emerging leaders can improve the productivity and success of their business as employees learn to be more efficient when implementing and updating processes in their workplace.

The opportunity to up-skill and grow on an individual level

Participation in programs like NEXTgen gets you a seat at the table with other like-minded industry members, providing valuable networking opportunities and the chance to work closely with a Standards Australia mentor.

Participants also learn valuable skills that can be applied to their everyday role, including project management and communication and have the chance to become the go-to person for standards development in their organisation. 

“The intent of the NEXTgen program is to attract early to mid-stage careers, to enable them to use their skill set and voice to make a difference.”

Standards Australia

Standards Australia is an independent, nongovernment, not for profit organisation. We are the nation’s peak non-government standards development organisation. The work of Standards Australia and our staff, stakeholders, Members and contributors enhances the nation’s economic efficiency, international competitiveness and contributes to a safe and sustainable environment for all Australians.

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