Incentivising and connecting dispersed leadership teams

The Opportunity

Qantas Airways operates in a highly competitive, ever-changing industry where agility and responsiveness are essential. The airline relies on on-board and ground leaders to facilitate change and execute corporate strategy, so engaging and developing them is vital.

After successfully piloting a new global leader talent program for selected On Board Managers (OBMs), Qantas International Division engaged Maximus International in 2017 to rebrand, expand and deliver the program. The main objectives were to:

  • Reward high performing individuals by investing in their personal and career development.
  • Incentivise them by demonstrating their input was valued.
  • Connect a diverse group by promoting common goals and mutual understanding.
  • Smooth the path for participants who planned to cross over to Qantas corporate.

The unique nature of the airline industry presented us with some unusual challenges. These included accommodating participants who travel on competing schedules; engaging people with different career goals; and meeting the leadership development needs of OBMs, who rarely work with the same crew.

“The most valuable part for me was recognising that senior management value the current and potential contribution of On Board Managers and are prepared to invest in our futures.”


We redesigned and developed the global leader program as a pragmatic, challenging and transformational five-month experience called Accelerate. Tailored to the specific needs of the cohort, it featured:

  • A focus on personal and people leadership, with Qantas International senior leaders sharing their personal journeys and advice.
  • Cross-functional grouping that brought together ground and on board leaders.
  • A collective ‘launch’, a two-day learning experience that promoted collaboration and bonding.
  • A 12-week project where cross-functional/location teams worked virtually on an allocated strategic project to scope and progress it; a sponsor and a Maximus coach guided them through the process, which culminated in a presentation to an executive panel.
  • Two virtual learning experiences on ‘just in time’ topics based on the progress of their strategic projects.

The syndicate strategic projects were a key element, emphasising Qantas’s commitment to seriously considering participants’ input into solutions for real customer problems.


“Engaging, challenging and enlightening, a fantastic opportunity.”

In total, 60 people from Australia, Asia and Europe have participated in the Accelerate program so far. Qantas plans to make it an annual event, creating a pipeline of leaders who are engaged, connected and equipped to lead with impact.

In post-program feedback, 90 per cent of participants said the content increased their knowledge of the topics and was relevant to their development needs.

Qantas stands to benefit from the syndicate projects, which brought a different perspective to known challenges. These included how to bring to life the Qantas Service Promise, moving to interactive learning, and creating a seamless end-to-end customer experience.


“Credible and pragmatic…great opportunity to derive positive change across the business”

“Very much aligned to where the organisation is going…brilliantly thought out and executed initiative…well worth exploring further.”

Panel feedback