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How ANZSOG’s Executive Fellows Program strengthened Roxane Marcelle-Shaw’s public service leadership

4 June 2020

News and media


Roxane Marcelle-Shaw headshot

Growing up in Canberra, home of the Australian Government, Roxane Marcelle-Shaw was always interested in the role and responsibilities of the public service.

“Canberra is a public service town and I really connected with the idea of serving people and serving the community, and all the different ways in which government does that,” Roxane said.

Now, as head of the Professional Standards Authority, her experience in the ANZSOG Executive Fellows Program (EFP) in 2019 has helped her to think more broadly about how to lead an agency for the long-term.

“The EFP reinforced my view that leadership is a continuous process, while offering new tools and approaches,” she said.

“It’s a lifelong endeavour because the world keeps changing around you and people keep changing around you, so being able to work to your strengths in different environments with different people requires different tools and different approaches.”

For the past 20 years Roxane has built a career as a regulator with experience in performance, human rights and protective jurisdictions, developed through executive roles and statutory appointments in the ACT, Commonwealth and NSW public sectors.

The Professional Standards Authority serves the Professional Standards Councils and their mandate to protect consumers of professional services across Australia through improved professional standards and practices.

“When I did the EFP, I’d only recently moved into the Authority. I was working in a new jurisdiction and I had to think differently about the sorts of emerging regulatory issues the Authority was facing,” Roxane said.

For example, both the Hayne Royal Commission into the financial services sector, and the failure of cladding materials in the construction industry, exposed gaps in consumer protection not addressed by existing professional standards schemes. We had to find solutions to new regulatory problems.

“The world around us was shifting, community expectations were moving, and the challenge was how to position ourselves to be able to respond,” she said.

The EFP provided immediate value by introducing Roxane to the Adaptive Leadership Framework, developed by Harvard leadership educator Ronald Heifetz, which encourages senior executives to think about what they must respond to in the long term and then position their agency to deliver.

“It is about how you deal with an environment that is fluid, which is our constant experience now,” she said.

“I don’t think you can work anywhere in the public service without having to respond to continuous change and then being able to find ways to meet emerging challenges.”

It also gave her an opportunity to discuss problems and challenges with a similarly senior cohort from across the public sector, which brought different perspectives, new ideas and new ways of looking at old problems.

It laid bare a “great commonality” across the public service in terms of the problems its leaders have to solve.

“I think one of the common themes, no matter where you are in the public service, is that you are dealing with volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity and you need to be able to respond to that as a leader,” she said.

“What’s particularly difficult about that is that you are often working with people who are looking for the exact opposite. They want certainty, simplicity and consistency.”

The EFP faculty – longstanding senior public servants – were another highlight.

“The faculty that run the EFP are fantastic. ANZSOG brought in deeply experienced public servants, long-standing leaders, who are able to share some of their personal insights and experiences,” she said.

“It can be a very lonely place to be a leader of a small agency. Being able to hear from other leaders about their experiences can be enormously reassuring, but also open up new ways of leading in these volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments.”

“The concept of public value also was really affirming for me as a very longstanding public servant; to have another framework in which you can see that you have purpose and that you deliver something of importance to the community.

“I’ve always worked in regulation which is all about protecting citizens’ rights and building social capital. To see that represented as a legitimate measurement of what we do, and a way of being able to talk about public administration that goes beyond management, has been fantastic.”

An unexpected highlight was the rare opportunity the EFP provided to step away from the daily pressures of work to spend three weeks of learning and reflection in an immersive environment.

“To have that opportunity to step back and work on your own skills and talents enables you to grow as a senior executive. We can only benefit from that and by doing so, we become better equipped to create the public value consumers deserve.”

Find out more about ANZSOG’s Foundation Programs

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 three-week program challenging 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 two-week 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 capacity to reflect and learn continuously.