From an early age Elizabeth Archibald knew she was going to fly. After 10 years as a pilot with Jetstar, she decided that it was time to transition into a management role and became the airline’s Senior Fleet Safety advisor in 2018.

Earlier this year Archibald enrolled in AGSM @ UNSW Business School’s Graduate Certificate in Change Management program to learn how she could further improve Jetstar’s comprehensive change management process.

“Managing change is really important in any business, but especially in aviation – and at such uncertain times,” Archibald says. “I want to develop a well-rounded understanding of how these processes work and look at how change can impact an organisation. This course dives deep into this part of change management.”

AGSM’s Graduate Certificates allow students to develop subject matter expertise in specialised contemporary fields such as innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, change management and digital technology. The recently updated programs cover more contemporary courses and content and are designed to be more flexible in their delivery.

Rachael Dickinson is another recent student at AGSM, who started the Graduate Certificate in Digital Innovation program to expand her understanding of digital strategy and technologies – allowing her to co-lead her team more effectively at AMP Capital as the Global Co-Head of Marketing, Digital Innovation and Direct.

“As a marketer you tend to become a specialist,” Dickinson says. “I’ve always wanted to be a generalist and continue to learn as much as I can about every element of marketing. I want to keep feeling a little uncomfortable and learn how to ask the right questions.

A flexible approach to developing expertise

On top of her safety role, Archibald still flies for Jetstar once a week. So, she needed a program that would fit in with her busy schedule.

“Though a lot of my role is office based, I work on rosters that change quickly. The ability to study completely online helps me manage my study and assessments around my schedule.”

Having previously studied a Master’s degree in aviation management with UNSW, Archibald was familiar with the university’s high quality and practical approach to higher education.

“The content of my master’s degree was practical and easy to apply into an operational setting, so I knew any program affiliated with UNSW would be the same. And with AGSM @ UNSW Business School’s exceptional reputation, I knew I was making the right choice,” she says.

For Dickinson, a recent move into an innovation role at AMP Capital prompted her need to develop a deeper understanding of the digital space.

“My colleague is completing his MBAX at AGSM so I was familiar with the school’s specialist programs and impressive reputation. The Graduate Certificate program had a range of subjects on offer that I wanted to explore – it was a really easy decision,” she says.

Being able to draw on experienced lecturers and industry leading faculty who offer insights from real life situations was also very important for Dickinson.

“The lectures share their experiences from their careers outside of the classroom and offers glimpses into the ways real companies put theory into practice using the tools and frameworks they are teaching us. It makes the course content really interesting and practical.”

The Graduate Certificate program also offers a great opportunity for students to build a supportive network, which has been really important for Dickinson.

“Despite working virtually, the course has been great for meeting and learning from people across a wide range of backgrounds. As a leader, you don’t know all the answers. Being able to call upon a network of likeminded people with different skillsets is invaluable,” she says.

Building a solid foundation for new insight

As a driven and passionate leader, Dickinson chose her subjects strategically. “I wanted to develop my digital strategy skills, knowledge of technologies and to understand the analytics behind a project. So, I picked my subjects carefully.”

Dickinson says digital innovation is critical to every aspect of business these days. AMP Capital invests in various aged care businesses around Australia, where Virtual Reality (VR) being introduce as an important tool for communication and connection with family and friends.

“They use VR for some of their residents in a beautiful way. People from overseas can revisit their hometowns one last time virtually through the technology.”

Dickinson was keen to develop her understanding of technologies like VR through the program. Just nine weeks into the course, Dickinson is already putting these new insights to work in her role.

“We have been introduced to different technologies each week– from 3D printing and artificial intelligence (AI) to VR, Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain. I’m currently involved in building out the marketing strategy for one of our teams that uses technologies such as AI and being able to understand what they do and add more value to their strategy has been great.”

Dickinson also feels that by going back to school, she is showing her team that education is important.

“I’ve been a good role model for our broader marketing team. I’m showing them that it’s ok to challenge yourself and expand your mind.”

Being an effective and inspiring leader is also an important goal for Archibald, who was surprised by the depth of the content covered in her program – and how the concepts she has learned apply not only to managing change but to many other business and personal challenges. “I didn’t realise the importance of breaking down the process. Of getting multiple perspectives and not taking things at face value. The course has made me understand the importance of this and I’m learning how to implement these skills into my current career. Now I can take a problem to the team and let them offer solutions, rather than simply suggesting a change,” she says.

Having to look at her own weaknesses as part of the course was confronting for Archibald. But she says it’s a very helpful skill for anyone in a leadership role.

“You’re asked to look at your own deficiencies, identify why some of your processes are less ideal. It’s been enlightening to dive into my weaknesses and then develop a plan to improve. I think it really enables leaders today to manage themselves and others effectively.”

Expanding perspectives

Although she still has over a year to go, Dickinson says the course has expanded her mind to what’s possible. “It’s given me a fresh look into my role and will really underpin the decisions I make about my career moving forward.

From the interactive assignments based on real brands to simulations and group work, Dickinson has really enjoyed the Graduate Certificate in Digital Innovation courses so far.

“It’s been great. AGSM has done a great job in putting everything you need in the one spot, so you spend more time learning than searching. The calibre of people and lecturers is exceptional and supporting content like weekly webinars on developing soft skills and learning flexibly have been really useful,” she says.

For Archibald, the practical assessments and well-developed online course content for the Graduate Certificate in Change Management have been the highlights so far.

“It’s easy enough to go through individually and in written format. The video conferences fit around my schedule and have been great for putting faces to names. And I find the learnings can be brought to any unit within any business and be broken down to micro elements – such as changing processes or platforms within a team. This can be a very influential skill for any leader.”

The Graduate Certificate programs offer stackable credentials from a globally ranked management school can be articulated into an AGSM MBA, if students wish to continue their studies.

Both Dickinson and Archibald have been considering further studies and are using their current program as a launchpad into higher education.

“The Graduate Certificate gives me a chance to see how an MBA would fit into my schedule, without having to commit to a full MBA program straight away,” Archibald said.

To find out more about AGSM’s Graduate Certificate program, visit

To find out more about AGSM @ UNSW Business School, visit