How ANZSOG’s Masters degree shapes public sector leadership

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  • Published Date: 15 April 2019

When The Beatles sang 'I get by with a little help from my friends’, they weren’t talking about life in the Australian or New Zealand public service, but they could well have been.

Aspiring public sector leaders need support to fulfil their potential, whether in the form of professional development to supplement their career experience, or the continued support and guidance of their peers. That’s why the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) created the Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA), providing aspiring public sector leaders with robust theory to take into their decision-making and a way of connecting with a large and diverse cohort of like-minded executives.

Applications have opened for the 2020 EMPA and alumni like the Victorian Department of Education and Training’s Nick Condratoff can’t say enough to recommend the program.

WATCH: Nick Condratoff speaks about his EMPA experience.

“Commencing and completing the EMPA has given me such a new discipline, awareness and understanding of how the public sector truly delivers public value,” he said. 

It has shown me a number of economic and social development tools that help me perform my role in a much more fluent way.”

Doing the EMPA has led to tangible changes in the way Nick goes about his policy work. 

“I felt I was delivering an evaluation methodology prior to the EMPA but without the scientific or theoretical background behind it. Post the EMPA, I can see a marked difference in how I evaluate that methodology,” he said.

The EMPA’s Academic Director, Michael Mintrom, said the program was unique in that it was entirely focused on the public sector. 

“The people who should apply are those who have had about five years of experience in the public sector,” he said. “People who see themselves as having leadership aspirations, who want to be contributing at a high level in the future.”

With eight core courses and three electives over two years, the workload can appear daunting, especially to rising executives juggling home and work lives. Michael said ANZSOG offers strong support structures and flexibility to ensure participants can thrive. “I would emphasise that this degree is actually quite different from your past experiences of university,” he said. 

“You have people in the room around you who are like-minded, having conversations and team presentations working on projects. All of that is designed to get you building good connections with those around you. It’s hard work but the question is: can you have fun while working hard? And I think the answer is: yes.”

As well as mixing theory and practical applications, exposing participants to international public sector decision-making, including a Singapore-based component, and developing leadership qualities and potential, one of the most loved aspects of the EMPA is the friendships and support networks that continue beyond the course among the alumni.

“One of the things that I often say is that when you’re at ANZSOG, you’re never alone, and we make sure that in the classroom your experience is one where you’re engaging continuously with those around you,” Michael said.

The benefits of taking this degree are that it is tailor made for people who are wanting to be leaders in the public sector. It’s also taught by internationally respected faculty who come from Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. This becomes important for your learning experience but also becomes a resource for you in the future.

For Nick Condratoff, that sense of kinship with his cohort was a significant asset. 

“One of the real benefits was identifying quite early and quite quickly that we all grapple – at all levels and all jurisdictions – with very similar public policy problems and so one of the benefits of the EMPA was sharing and bouncing ideas off other colleagues that were going through very similar struggles or problems,” he said.

Applications for the 2020 Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) are now open.  

Find out more about the course at our EMPA page or submit an Expression of Interest form today.