In the past three months Australian workplaces have been forced to change their traditional ways of working and adopt digital and virtual practices. For many people and businesses the changes, compelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, brought a new perspective into how they go about their everyday work.
As part of her role within ASC Shipbuilding, BAE Systems Australia’s shipbuilding business, Tamara works closely with small and medium-size Australian businesses, supporting and enhancing their involvement with the $35 billion Hunter Class Frigate Program.
Through the Hunter program, ASC Shipbuilding will deliver nine anti-submarine warfare frigates to the Royal Australian Navy – the largest surface ship project in Australia’s defence history.
In the lead-up to the program’s prototyping phase, the ASC Shipbuilding supply chain team planned to host a face-to-face event with Australian suppliers interested in working on the Hunter program. With hundreds of business representatives registered to attend the event, cancelling it as a result of COVID-19 was not an option.
“We started to think about what alternative avenues we could pursue,” – said Tamara, when the team realised the event couldn’t proceed as planned.
She explains that the planned briefing was designed for ASC Shipbuilding’s leaders and supply chain representatives to deliver important program updates.
“We still wanted to get the message out to the industry – supplier engagement is crucial, and we didn’t want businesses to be kept in the dark about latest developments.”
"We haven’t done anything like that before, and it was an interesting, as well as challenging, process"
During the Hunter program’s prototyping phase, which will commence at the end of the year, five ship ‘blocks’ will be built, the first two of which will be Type 26 while the remaining three are planned to be Hunter frigate blocks. But prototyping is more than just building blocks – it is designed to test and refine the processes, systems, tools and facilities before construction on the first frigate commences in 2022.
Engaging with industry at any stage of the program is important, but particularly in the lead up to contracts being placed, ensuring businesses understand program requirements.
“When the COVID-19 outbreak hit, we closely watched and monitored the situation,” – says Tamara.
“Eventually we made the decision to create an online event in a webinar format, inviting businesses to join. We haven’t done anything like that before, and it was an interesting, as well as challenging, process.”
Progressing with this initiative, the team brought together more than 450 people who were able to watch the event live and ask questions.
“By moving this event online, we created a platform for a much broader audience, capturing every question and having our leadership team interact with Australian industry,” recalls Tamara.
By developing and building relationships with industry through the Hunter program, ASC Shipbuilding is helping to build an enduring and uniquely Australian sovereign industrial capability that will support Australia’s continuous naval shipbuilding strategy for future generations.
Tamara says although there were many unknowns with how the webinar would be embraced and received, she was pleased with the successful outcome.
“We wanted to have a supplier briefing in May. Technology prevailed and we managed to tick all the boxes by delivering the event – just using different means.”
After receiving positive feedback, Tamara and the team have decided that webinars should be considered for future events, especially while the COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.
“I am looking forward to organising the next webinar, and our team is looking forward to engaging with industry again.”