The CEO's Corner: The Albury Story

03 Oct 2017

By Mal Shaw

image of DDLS's CEO, Mal Shaw

DDLS operates seven facilities in Australia; six training centres in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth and a regional sales and operations centre in Albury. I'm often asked why we have a facility in Albury so here is the story. Back in the last millennium, DDLS' Customer Care Centre was based in Sydney. One of our managers, who joined us in Melbourne, wanted to relocate to Deniliquin in NSW with her family and hoped that she may be able to take her job with her.

DDLS' General Manager at the time, Steve "Chipper" Ross, was open to the idea as he was always willing to back the right people and DDLS, as a technology company, would always try to enable the right people to work for us by leveraging technology to remove the constraint of distance. In May 2000, our Customer Care Centre was established in Deniliquin and at its peak employed around 30 people from the local area. After a few years, we relocated to Albury where, today, we operate our Customer Care Centre and National Telesales team.

Led by the fearless Alison Baker, our Albury Customer Care Centre is the team that answers the 1800 U LEARN (853 276) calls and [email protected] enquiries. Many of our operational tasks are managed there and we lead our National Telesales team from Albury.

We're very proud of our Albury team and many of us have learned a bit about the local area from our trips there for business meetings or team social events. These can include the Albury Christmas Party, Christmas in July, the Berrigan Gold Cup, marvelling at the majestic Murray or visiting the amazing Lake Hume. If, like me, you've waited at Albury airport to fly to Sydney or Melbourne, you may have seen the tables that are inscribed with the famous story of the rescue of the Uiver. The Uiver was a Douglas DC2 that was entered by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in the 1934 London to Melbourne Air Race. The race was conceived to commemorate the centenary of Victoria's statehood and to demonstrate the feasibility of a scheduled air service between Europe and Australia. 20 aircraft departed from London on 20th October 1934, and started the race to Melbourne that covered 16 countries and seven planes finished the race. When the Uiver left the last checkpoint in Charleville, Queensland, on 23rd October they met a frightening night filled with rain, thunder and lightning. The plane lost radio contact, became lost and started circling above the heavy clouds and rain. Fearing the worst, the pilot of the Uiver, Captain Parmentier, gathered the crew and passengers together for what may have been their final moments.

The people of Albury, who, along with millions of others around the world, had been excitedly following the race on the radio, heard the roar of the twin engine plane above the town and sprang into action. First the Chief Electrical Engineer flashed the letters of the word "Albury" using the entire town's electric lights; the plane's crew saw the flashing lights but couldn't read the Morse code due to the storm. Next, they mobilised everyone with a car to get down to the racecourse and create a signal with their car headlights to guide the plane to safety. Remarkably, the crew landed the plane safely and the next day, the people of Albury helped the crew to drag the plane out of the mud so that they could fly to Melbourne and take second place in the speed section of the air race.

I didn't know this story until I sat at the Albury airport cafe and looked at the photos printed on the tables. I love the story because of its elements of enthusiasm, problem solving, resilience and the willingness to go to any lengths to participate and lend a hand. So, I like to think that if you're out there in the cold and dark, wondering what training course to do next, which one could help you bring your project home safely, then our Albury team will be there to light the way for you.

Thank you for choosing, or considering, DDLS for a part of your learning journey.

Kind regards
Mal Shaw