ANZSOG Masters journey puts the theory behind Nick Condratoff’s public sector practice
25 April 2019● News and media
ANZSOG’s 2020 Executive Master of Public Administration is now open for applications.
For Victorian public servant Nick Condratoff, completing the program was a highlight of his career, as he explains:
It’s not as though Nick Condratoff didn’t know what he was doing. Almost two decades of a successful public service career meant he had been able to learn from some inspiring leaders and achieve a great deal. When it came to creating policy, communicating with stakeholders and evaluating results, he was thorough, capable and highly skilled.
However, Nick was concerned his actions lacked a theoretical grounding and so he signed up to study an Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) at the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).
WATCH: Nick Condratoff speaks about his EMPA experience.
“Previous to the EMPA, much of my experience was on the job training, shadowing and mentoring of seniors but I hadn’t had the real theory and discipline behind my actions,” Nick explained. “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.”
It’s an important skill for a public service leader. Nick identifies the increased public scrutiny on policy and programs as the biggest change in his 18 years within the sector.
“To ensure we public servants respond to that level of enquiry from the constituents, we need to ensure that the programs we develop and policies we create are as dynamic and responsive as possible,” he said.“I saw the EMPA as a way of coupling my on-the-job training with some more academic experiences. The EMPA was a terrific opportunity to get to learn from very experienced practitioners from across the whole of Australia and leading academics who have a passion for the public sector.”
The Executive Director of Engagement, Participation and Inclusion in Nick’s department, Lee-Anne Fisher, said she had noticed the change in his work since he completed the EMPA. “One of the things I’ve seen most consistently with Nick is that he’s been prepared to work now outside his comfort zone. He’s doing work now that he hadn’t ever done before.”
Nick had always known he wanted to devote his working life to the public sector, from his beginnings in Canberra to his current role as Support and Administration Officer for the Victorian Department of Education and Training. Driven by a desire to make change and create better outcomes for the communities he serves, Nick embraced the theoretical rigour and practical learnings that the EMPA offered, as well as the support and inspiration of a cohort of fellow aspiring public sector leaders also studying the program.
“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.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. That cohort has stayed in touch, to continue supporting one another beyond their studies.
The EMPA is a challenging program, containing eight core subjects and three electives, over a two-year period. While ANZSOG offers support and flexibility at every step, the course demands a lot from participants. Nick enjoyed that challenge.
“There was a sense of self-discipline and self-motivation, being able to juggle multiple deadlines, both within the EMPA and back within the working environment,” he said.
“You were depending on the social networks around you, both at home and, of equal importance, within the EMPA cohort participants, because we are all juggling similar deadlines, tasks and responsibilities and we can all support each other through that process.
“Commencing and completing the EMPA, has given me such a new discipline, awareness and understanding of how the public sector truly delivers public value. It has allowed me a number of economic and social development tools that help me in my role, in a much more fluent and easier way.”