An interview with Margot Forster
DTC Chief Executive Officer
What is the ADA and why was it formed?
The ADA is a collaboration between the defence teaming centre, the Henderson alliance over in Western Australia, and what was previously known as The Victorian Chapter of AIDN along with the Victorian Defence alliances.
Those three organisations are very effective in their own right for their members, but all of us understood or recognise that when representing our members at a national level, there is a huge benefit to be gained by having a single strong voice that represents a large number of companies.
The organisations were also very keen to maximise the different strengths that each bring to the table, and build on those strengths through sharing and collaborating.
And the DTC played a leading role in formation?
The DTC originally represented AIDN in South Australia. Early in 2017 the DTC made the strategic decision
to separate from AIDN in order to better serve our members. When AIDN Victoria separated from AIDN
national it was a logical step to look at collaborating based on the challenges we had both experienced.
Why is the formation of the ADA important to DTC members specifically?
Two main reasons.
Firstly, there’s strength in numbers. The DTC is an organisation representing a membership of nearly 300 companies. When we are aligned with Victorian Defence and the Victoria Chapter as well as the Henderson alliance we become an organisation supporting 1100 companies. This represents a very significant voice for defence industry that cannot be ignored.
The DTC has always had a focus on teaming, and that is the other reason that there’s an advantage for DTC members in being a part of the defence alliance. We have great opportunity as an industry over the next 20, 30, 40 years to be a part of major programs and to be competitive to win more business. Teaming will be central in order to effectively compete. We can now assist our members to find partners from a much larger pool when industry associations connecting 1100 companies work together. It is a case of broadening our horizons. It’s about expanding our networks and expanding connection opportunities with groups of like-minded businesses that are part of associations that want to truly collaborate.
The shift away from AIDN National
With the changed focus of the Defence Industry, came the need to grow. We were adapting and professionalising at a rate faster than the AIDN National Committee, and late last year we decided that it was in our member’s best interests that we step away from the governance structure of AIDN National, as it was preventing us from giving the most effective service to our members.
The withdrawal from AIDN national will have no impact on our members who will continue to receive the same support they have over the past 20 years. DTC also continues to work with the AIDN state chapters. In particular we have formed strong alliances with like-minded organisations such as AIDN Victoria (also recently separated from AIDN National), and in WA with the Henderson Alliance.
How does the ADA interact with other industry bodies?
The ADA has a couple of core values. The most important thing to recognise is that we value the diversity that the various associations bring to the party. Although, each of the associations developed to meet the needs of their membership, they are all different. That difference is really important, as there is more diversity in the strengths. These strengths are now brought to the collective. So when you become a part of the Australian Defence alliance there is no pressure to change who it is and what it does for its
own membership. It’s at a national level that we are very focused on having a single voice, and a single message and a single aim, which is to ensure that Australian Businesses have a maximum opportunity to compete for and win business.
Do you still interact at all with AIDN National?
Of course, we do. The single focus of AIDN and the ADA is that we exist for the benefit of our members. Our members in both instances work in defence and aligned industries, so we have a common aim. It’s important that we do work together when needed. An example of this was as recently as December of last year when we collaborated very closely with AIDN to support BAE to run its Hunter Class SME workshop.
How often do you meet and how does the collaboration work practically?
We work together on common issues several times a week, sometimes on a daily basis. Technology helps us do discuss matters that cross our desks and that we believe would have a national impact, or impact wider than our own membership.
Do you see scope to increase collaboration between alliance members?
Absolutely. That is, as I said earlier, one of the main reasons why we have this alliance, is to be able to focus effort in connecting alliance members. DTC members would be very familiar with the fact that one of our 3 main lines of effort is to connect. Through connection we have strength, we have growth, we have opportunity. After all, we exist to add value and serve our own members’ interests.