Leading in Complexity: National Security Senior Executive Development Program

National Security College | Executive program
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The National Security College’s premium program provides exceptional depth of insight across the full spectrum of Australia’s national security challenges and opportunities.

Course date: 
9am 4 November – 5pm 29 November 2019
National Security College, Level 3, Crawford Building #132, 1 Lennox Crossing, ANU

Places on this program are largely pre-purchased by Commonwealth participating agencies and NSC Partners. Subject to availability, a small number of additional places may be offered at a rate of $34,000 (GST ex). Please email epd.nsc@anu.edu.au to nominate for an additional place.

Course overview

The National Security College’s premium program provides exceptional depth of insight across the full spectrum of Australia’s national security challenges and opportunities. It is an immersive four week course that focuses on trusted exchanges of insights with around 100 of Australia’s foremost policy practitioners and experts including serving and former heads of government departments and agencies. You will also engage with private sector leaders and international perspectives, including heads of foreign missions in Canberra.

The program includes an international visit for high level insights into how other governments manage security challenges; in 2019, this visit will be hosted by the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, Japan. Participants will form and deepen high level professional contacts. We are confident that you will build trusted networks with other leaders, which the College will help sustain through its alumni program.

“The month long National Security Senior Executive Development Program is the best professional development course I have undertaken and has fundamentally changed my approach to my work and career more broadly. I have and will continue to recommend this course to my senior executive peers and look forward to a continued association with the National Security College.”

Scope and content

The program provides a contemporary perspective on the evolution of the national security community and the intersection between domestic and international issues. It examines the concept of the Indo-Pacific as the key source region for strategic demands and opportunities. It incorporates sessions focused on strategic assessment of key regional countries and current security hot-spots, and examines Australia’s management of these challenges. Other sessions cover key thematic issues influencing national security policy-making and strategy planning across the spectrum of traditional and non-traditional national security issues.

Key areas of attention include fostering whole-of-government and whole-of-nation responses to contemporary and future security problems with an emphasis on the vital role of leadership. The program will challenge you to identify and address, strategically and collaboratively, the emerging challenges in Australian national security policy. There is in-depth analysis of contemporary events, along with hypothetical scenarios and sensitive case studies.

Participants engage with senior officers from policy and operational agencies who provide perspectives on the development and implementation of policy to address national security challenges.

“The best development program I have attended. Why? The quality of the program, the scope for self development, and the level of situational awareness of Australia’s strategic national security issues is incomparable.”

Learning outcomes

The program will improve participants’ understanding of, and ability to harness and contribute to, the broader national security community. In particular, participants will be better able to:

• locate their responsibilities within a comprehensive overview of Australia’s national security challenges
• use a rich understanding of the Indo-Pacific region to contest the importance of trends for Australia’s current and future national security decision-making
• establish and deepen relationships across different elements of Australia’s national security architecture
• critically evaluate themselves against the characteristics of adaptive leadership required in order to perform strongly in a national security role
• consider how to shape influential advice that assists government to seize opportunity and effectively manage national security risk.

Who should attend?

This course is designed to focus and accelerate the development of national security leaders.

Senior Executive Service Band 1 (or equivalent) officers from the broad national security community who are involved, or may be involved, in developing and implementing strategic policy frameworks and/or managing practical responses to national security issues will benefit from this program. State and territory officials, as well as executives from the private sector involved in the security field, are encouraged to nominate. A minimum SECRET (NV1) security clearance is required for this program.

Program information

• Four week, full time, non-residential program (with an interstate and international component)

• Fully-catered

• ANU electronic parking permit supplied

• There is a requirement for each participant to hold a valid passport.


Nominations must be submitted through your Learning and Development Manager. Please contact us at epd.nsc@anu.edu.au for further details.

“The opportunity to discuss national security issues in an open and honest learning environment without departmental biases is unique, and the networking opportunities are invaluable.”

Course convenor

Jon Brewer, Director Professional Studies

Jon Brewer is Director of Professional Studies at the National Security College, ANU. He is a seasoned national security professional with extensive experience within the national security community, including the Australian Defence Force.

Jon has led teams to contribute to operational and policy responses on a range of issues, including counter terrorism, foreign interference and cyber security. He has also been instrumental in building multi-agency capability in the pursuit of national security goals. He has considerable experience in facilitating an environment that promotes the sharing and use of expertise within national security contexts, and has done so with Australian and international partners.

Jon holds an Executive Master of Public Administration (ANU) and a Bachelor of Science (UNSW). Jon is a Graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and has experience as a non-executive Director within the not-for-profit sector.

Course presenter(s)

Professor Rory Medcalf

Professor Rory Medcalf has been Head of the National Security College at the Australian National University since January 2015. He has led the expansion of the College into policy engagement as well as education, executive development and research. His professional background involves more than two decades of experience across diplomacy, intelligence analysis, think tanks and journalism, including a formative role as Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute.

In government, Professor Medcalf worked as a senior strategic analyst with the Office of National Assessments, Canberra’s peak intelligence analysis agency. He was also an Australian diplomat, with wide experience including a posting to New Delhi, a secondment to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, truce monitoring after the civil conflict in Bougainville and policy development on Asian security institutions. He has contributed to three landmark reports on nuclear arms control: the 1996 Canberra Commission, 1999 Tokyo Forum and 2009 International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. His earlier work in journalism was commended in Australia’s leading media awards, the Walkleys.

Professor Medcalf has been prominent in developing Australia’s relations with India. He has been Associate Director of the Australia-India Institute and Senior Research Fellow in Indian Strategic Affairs at the University of New South Wales. He is the founding convener and co-chair of the Australia-India Policy Forum, an influential informal dialogue between the two countries. He has been recognised as a thought leader internationally for his work on the Indo-Pacific concept of the Asian maritime strategic environment.

Professor Medcalf was a member of the expert panel providing independent advice on the Australian Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper. His research areas include Australia’s security challenges, the further development of an Indo-Pacific concept of the Asian strategic environment, China-India relations, and prospects for maritime and nuclear stability in Indo-Pacific Asia, on which he has led projects funded by the MacArthur Foundation. He is currently chief investigator in a major two-year research project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, examining the risks to nuclear stability from new submarine-detection technologies.

Professor Medcalf is a member of the editorial boards of Asia Policy and the Australian Journal of International Affairs. He is a Non-resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy with the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and retains affiliations as a Non-resident Fellow with the Lowy Institute for International Policy and the Seapower Centre of the Royal Australian Navy. Professor Medcalf also teaches the NSC’s National Security in the Indo-Pacific and National Security Policymaking courses. https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/medcalf-r Visit his researcher profile.

Dr Fiona McKenzie

Dr Fiona McKenzie is a human geographer with a PhD on innovation and expertise in both public policy and academic research. She is the Founder and Director of Orange Compass, a consultancy dedicated to supporting change makers on their journey to transform systems and build better futures. Before founding Orange Compass, Fiona was the Co-Founder and Director of Strategy for the Australian Futures Project, where she led the design and implementation of a range of unique programs including ‘social innovation labs’ and system mapping research.

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Updated:  17 November 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head of College, National Security College/Page Contact:  Web administrator