ANZSOG valedictorian inspired by passion and devotion of public servants

Image of Erin Giles with Ken Smith (left) and Chris Walker (right)
  • Published Date: 10 December 2019

ANZSOG Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) valedictorian Erin Giles was inspired by the passion of her fellow participants and comforted by their devotion to delivering public value.

The Victorian School Building Authority Acting Director, Infrastructure and Planning, addressed the graduating 2018 cohort at a graduation ceremony in Wellington recently.

The high-performing public sector managers celebrated the completion of the two-year program.

EMPA participants are nominated by their agency to undertake the challenging program, which integrates theory and practical application in a unique cross-jurisdictional classroom setting.

After two years of working together to address problems, and learn new skills from some of Australia and New Zealand’s best academics and practitioners, the group will join more than 3600 ANZSOG alumni, many in key positions within the public sector.

The ANZSOG EMPA produces confident, critical thinkers with the skills required to manage complex challenges and deliver value to the communities they serve.

It gives participants the chance to share ideas and build a network of colleagues with the same commitment to public value.

“I joined the public sector three years ago yesterday, and the ANZSOG EMPA was part of my approach to building a better understanding of public administration and developing a network of colleagues across the public service,” Ms Giles said.

“What I didn’t expect - though in retrospect I should have - was how inspired I’d feel by the passion and commitment of people in the room – to do good and deliver public value,” she said.

She said the value of the course was clear.

“We each have the opportunity to be great leaders in delivering public value.

“Our organisations see this in us and that is why we have been supported to undertake the EMPA. And it won’t always be easy to be great leaders. We will face difficult choices, big and small. But through this ANZSOG program we are better equipped with tools to face these challenges,” Ms Giles said.

“We’ve focused many of our conversations on wicked problems and the great challenges we face as public servants, responding in a ‘VUCA’ (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. At times this can feel overwhelming and disheartening but we are fortunate and privileged to have our ANZSOG learnings as a source of help and inspiration.

“And I feel heartened knowing that the great minds and hearts in this room are collectively invested in addressing these problems. We do what we do because we believe in delivering public value.”

Ms Giles said attending the Jacinda Ardern Address in July, where the New Zealand Prime Minister spoke about why good government matters, was a highlight.

“It is useful for us, as we face the challenges that inevitably come our way, to remember the important contribution of our work, and I think her (Ardern’s) words are apt for us today:

“Good government matters because government affects everything.”

Ms Giles described the various locations the course took the cohort from Melbourne, Canberra Singapore, Sydney and Wellington, covering a breadth of topics from economics to regulation, what makes for good evidence and approaches to developing great policy.

A series of events affected the lives of her public sector cohorts, professionally and personally over the two years, Ms Giles said.

They included the “atrocious” Christchurch Mosque shooting and the Bourke Street attack in Melbourne, “remind us how vulnerable we can all be” and “’heartening changes” with the Me Too movement, and more recently the banning of the Uluru climb.

She said the importance of relationships was a focus through the program.

“We’ve also navigated the challenges of group assignments but for me, at least, this has afforded the opportunity to form friendships that have lasted the last two years, and I’m sure beyond: and have exposed me to perspectives I may not otherwise have had the fortune of hearing,’’ Ms Giles said.

The 2018 EMPA cohort join ANZSOG’s alumni - a unique and highly valued community of more than 3600 influential public sector and public purpose leaders, with members based across 40 countries.

The ANZSOG alumni features some of the most talented and influential people working in the public sector in Australia and New Zealand. More than 100 ANZSOG alumni have gone on to hold positions as CEOs and Secretaries in Australia and New Zealand.

Find out more about ANZSOG's Alumni program at the ANZSOG website.

For more information on the Executive Master of Public Administration, visit the EMPA webpage.

By Kate Adamson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) – Alumni Coordinator

View the image gallery below: