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ANZSOG’s Executive Fellows Program 2021: Leading change in difficult times

30 August 2021

News and media


Photo of Ro Allen


Being a senior public sector leader is difficult at the best of times, doing it in the current disrupted environment is even harder.

ANZSOG’s Executive Fellows Program (EFP) provides participants with the chance to reflect on how they lead, and to examine the social movements that are changing the environment they work in, and how they can respond to them.

The EFP made the shift to online delivery earlier this year, and after a successful delivery and encouraging feedback, applications are now open for a second EFP in October 2021.

EFP co-Director ANZSOG Professor Catherine Althaus said that delivering the program online had enabled a wider range of guest presenters and had a positive impact on participants’ work and family responsibilities.

“Online delivery makes it possible for us to use a greater variety of exciting presenters such as Laura Liswood, Secretary General of the Council of Women World Leaders, and also gives us the chance to include the participants’ managers in some sessions, inviting them to be part of the learning,” she said.

“The structure of intensive learning with breaks for reflection allows participants to incorporate what they learn into their work during the course of the EFP. We know how successful we can be in reaching through the screen to each other, to generate an authentic learning experience for everyone and supporting each other through these COVID-pressured times.

“Participants develop an applied TEDTalk to take back into their workplace as well as cultural confidence skills, building off the benefits of what a Trans-Tasman perspective can bring to modern public sector leadership. This time around, we aim to stimulate interactions even more between participants through reading and conversation options in between modules.”

Ro Allen, Victorian Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, took part in the first online EFP earlier in the year and said that the course had given participants new understandings of how to manage change and of the shared difficulties facing public sector leaders in the current uncertain environment.

“The whole experience gave me time to step out of what I was doing and step into the bigger picture of the public sector and the global situation. ANZSOG has given me some more tools in my toolbox and some more critical thinking possibilities,” Commissioner Allen said.

“The EFP gave me an in-depth understanding of change and how to manage change and some of the models around that – which is good because I’m taking my brand new organisation on a change journey. I also liked the emphasis on putting a solid business case about public value, which means having the authorising environment, the capability and public value elements in place for any project.”

The 2021 EFP is delivered by Professor Althaus, co-Director Robin Ryde and a range of guest presenters including Professors Phanish Puranam, Joan Donovan, Richard Tedeschi, Leisa Sargeant, Sander van der Linden, and Adrian Kuah and practitioners Michelle Deshong, Lil Anderson, Sam Johnson, Virginia Haussegger, Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly, and Ellen Strickland.

The program is divided into three separate modules focusing on different dimensions of modern leadership: Leading Self and Others, Leading the Organisation, and Systems Leadership.

The course uses real world examples and discussions of contemporary issues, including the COVID-19 crisis response and recovery strategies, and leadership implications of social movements such as BlackLivesMatter and #metoo.

Commissioner Allen said that the course had helped them understand their own leadership and how it related to their authorising environment.

“I think my style is one of authenticity, of being human and being vulnerable. Where ANZSOG helped me was being able to talk about leadership from self.

“The big thing for me is to make positive change, particularly for disadvantaged people, I’ve worked most of my career in the community sector where you have to knock on the door and ask nicely, but I think I’m a bit addicted to being in government where you can be the change and make the difference.”

Commissioner Allen said that public sector agencies were facing shared challenges over COVID-19 and the shift to a post-pandemic world, including working better with other agencies and the community, and budget bids becoming tighter.

“One of the things I’ve learnt from the EFP is that I’m not in this alone. The challenges I’m facing are being faced by other executives and we’re all in this together. And from a practical point of view, I’ve now got a network of professionals in Victoria (and beyond) that can get together and talk about those challenges.”

The 2021 EFP is designed to give senior public sector executive new perspectives on leadership. It features three modules, as well as an orientation session and pre-module check-in sessions. There are two week breaks between the three modules (2×3 day sessions and 1×2 day session) to allow time for participants to complete self-reflection work and apply insights into their workplaces throughout the program. The modules feature short, diverse sessions with ample break time to ensure participants are engaged in robust and insightful discussions.

EFP begins on 6 October. Applications are closing soon.

Find out more about the EFP hereApply for the EFP here

Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA)

A part-time postgraduate qualification developed and delivered by ANZSOG exclusively for high-performing public sector managers.

Executive Fellows Program (EFP)

A program that challenges senior public service executives working in the public domain to develop new leadership perspectives in a contemporary and highly interactive setting.

Towards Strategic Leadership (TSL)

A unique program that helps public service leaders develop the qualities needed to thrive in a senior executive role: a strategic outlook, political astuteness, personal resilience and the ability to reflect and learn continuously.

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