Conceptualised at the University of Wollongong, Early Start is a program that aims to help all children, in particular, those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to flourish and realise their potential. The program also seeks to understand how the resources and intellectual capital of Australian universities may benefit the community and the role and benefits of technology in this.

Early Start engaged Chrysalis Advisory in 2017 to assist in the planning and change management of their project, including defining Early Start’s vision, developing governance arrangements and resources, and outlining critical success metrics to quantify the organisation’s projected achievements over the forward 3-5 year period.

Over the course of the engagement, Chrysalis Advisory were able to ensure Early Start had a comprehensive understanding of the university structure and value chain, and explored their specific value propositions which were essential to achieving Early Start’s mission of helping children flourish and achieve their potential. Chrysalis also helped develop Early Start’s Research Strategy, Community Engagement Plan, Internal Engagement Plan and External Engagement Plan to ensure project exceptional execution.

In addition, Nick conducted professional coaching services with Early Start’s Director to improve leadership effectiveness. Using Human Synergistics and other evidence-based tools, Nick was able to support Prof. Okely in developing his leadership approach from a passive/defensive style to a constructive/facilitative style over a period of almost two years.

Testimonial by Professor Tony Okley

‘I worked with Nick over a period of two years. During this time, I saw significant improvements in all aspects of my LSI – both self- and peer-assessed. As an academic, I wanted an approach that was guided by the best evidence and practice in executive coaching. I also wanted someone who understood the specific challenges of working in a university/research institute environment.

Nick used an approach that I was familiar with as a researcher – collect data from the client and use this to begin a conversation about what areas should be prioritised to bring about improvements in an outcome, in this case my leadership skills. From this determine a course of action and be accountable to someone for this course. Then collect follow-up data to evaluate progress towards the goals set.

What I liked about Nick’s approach was his ability to push me to come up with the answers to challenges I faced, rather than rely on him. He had a way of questioning that forced me to think through the options and the consequences for these. This built my self-efficacy in problem solving skills, especially in areas identified in my LSI as targets for improvement. As a result, I have been able to break out of bad habits I had developed and change my entire mindset in certain areas. Most pleasing, I have been able to sustain these behavioural changes, some 12-18 months after I my last coaching session.

I have recommended Nick to colleagues who seek to improve their leadership skills using evidence-based practice and am confident that others too can realise the same benefits I have’.