Costumes and cupcakes: ANZSOG students think outside the box in ideas market

EMPA student laughing at Ideas Market
  • Published Date: 07 June 2018

ANZSOG’s Executive Master of Public Administration is about teaching students to find new ways to think about the challenges of their work, and to tackle the big issues facing the public sector.

Second year students held an “Ideas Market” recently, as part of the ‘Leading Public Sector Change’ subject, where they were challenged to create engaging group projects that would stimulate discussion on key issues for Australia and New Zealand’s future.

Innovative and interactive presentations involved a putting green, heart rate monitors, costumes and food incentives for participants such as Tim Tams, cupcakes and lamingtons.

Each presentation covered a specific issue which was based on demographic and technological challenges, including our ageing population, technology and its potential for our health system and Australia’s future relationship with China. 

They also asked for input from members of other groups, in line with the EMPA’s philosophies of immersive learning and harnessing the diverse experiences of each cohort. Stephen Mallows, District Director, North Queensland Region, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, said his group had chosen the impact of Australia’s ageing population as its focus, and asked other group members to vote on their preferred options for dealing with the rising cost to government of an ageing population. Mallows’ group would go on to produce a briefing paper, incorporating the votes from other groups on the best options for reducing costs to government.

WATCH: ANZSOG’s Executive Master of Public Administration Ideas Market 2018

He said the EMPA’s creative group projects helped to teach research skills and cemented networks of fellow public servants.

“One thing the EMPA has taught me is that on any issue there’s a wealth of information and research out there, and there are a lot of benefits to using it. So, don’t take things at face value, and don’t feel you have to do things the way they have always been done, look for something different,” he said.

Jan Dundon, Executive Officer at Victoria’s Mental Health Tribunal, said that her group had taken on the challenge of analysing the growth in ‘mobile health’ to determine the risks and benefits for consumers, health care providers and governments.

Mobile health covers a range of technological advances to health monitoring – ranging from devices such as fitbits to using technology which allows a doctor in Perth to examine patients in the Kimberley.

“The holy grail is using technology to get better access to health care for all at reduced costs, Dundon said. 

“You can prevent hospital admissions, or ensure that elderly people can stay in their homes longer, with support and monitoring from devices.

“But we need to make sure that governments are prepared to use the technology to the full, and also ready to deal with the privacy implications.” 

EMPA female student speaking at the Ideas Market

Ms Dundon said that the EMPA had improved her research and  decision-making ability, and evaluation skills.

 “There’s no doubt that the advice I am giving in my job has improved since I started the EMPA” 

Karen Najjar, Executive Officer to the Chair at the Clean Energy Regulator (CER), said that her group project focused on the specific challenges facing an ageing rural and regional Australia – an issue, which would affect all policy areas.

“We then used the concept of the “ideas market” to gather information from our cohort – about which of their departments has a strategy to deal with these changes. A number have but others have not because they have not done the required analysis yet.

“We’ve done a few of these challenges, and we have become good at breaking these big issues down. Part of my job at CER is to predict what is over the horizon, and this sort of learning complements that.”

She praised the EMPA for its networking potential, unique learning styles, the way it prompts “different ways of thinking” and the commitment to “lifelong learning” through alumni programs.

“One of the things I’ve found most useful is an increased understanding of economic markets, and how to use that information to influence decisions. If you want to have influence over decisions being made in the public sector, you need to have knowledge.”

EMPA student dressed as a police officer in high vis at the Ideas Market

Subject Leader Professor Paul 't Hart, from Utrecht University and Netherlands School of Government, said that the ideas market was designed to put students in the driver’s seat and take an active role in each others’ learning processes.

“EMPA students as a cohort represent around 2000 years of experience across all sectors, nooks and crannies of the public sector, and the ideas market is a powerful way of combining and harnessing their insights,” he said.

Read more information about our EMPA.