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Message from new ANZSOG Dean and CEO Caron Beaton-Wells

21 February 2024

News and media


Image of ANZSOG Dean and CEO Caron Beaton-Wells

Professor Caron Beaton-Wells is the newly appointed ANZSOG Dean and CEO. Caron has joined the organisation after serving from 2020-2023 as internal Dean at Melbourne Business School, overseeing a period of transformative growth and innovation.

Previously, as a member of the Melbourne Law School executive team, Caron established one of the world’s most highly regarded hubs in competition and consumer law.

Caron has consulted to the OECD, ASEAN, and the New Zealand Government, been a non-governmental advisor to the International Competition Network, a member of UNCTAD’s Research Partnership Platform, and a member of the Law Council of Australia’s competition and consumer committee. She was the recipient of the Academic of the Year (Women in Law) Award in 2019.

Prior to her academic career, Caron was a solicitor at (now) King & Wood Mallesons and a member of the Victorian Bar, practising largely in government-related areas of law for the Australian and state governments.

She is also an honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne and a lay member of the Australian Competition Tribunal.

Caron has written a message to ANZSOG’s alumni, stakeholders and others outlining her thoughts on becoming ANZSOG Dean and CEO and on the future of the public sector.


I am delighted and honoured to be the new ANZSOG Dean and CEO, to be leading a unique organisation that straddles two worlds I am passionate about: academia and the public sector. I am excited to begin the role at a time when there has never been a greater need for a highly capable, respected and trusted public service.

This role brings me full circle to a position where I can demonstrate my commitment to robust public institutions and improving the quality of our governments.

We are at a point where public services must change the way they work in order to address complex citizen challenges and meet the growing expectations of the public and the political system. I am looking forward to being part of that change.

As a young person, I was drawn to study law because like many of my era, I saw it as an opportunity to be an advocate for social justice and a champion of the voiceless. I had, and still have, a deep belief in the rule of law and its significance as a protection against abuses of power. It was a calling almost certainly traceable to my upbringing under South Africa’s apartheid regime.

I ultimately chose competition policy, law and regulation as a field of specialty, first as a barrister and then as an academic, because I regard it as a crucial mechanism by which government can level the playing field in a market economy and ensure the market works for consumer-citizens.

I see education as perhaps the greatest leveller of all, arguably the most potent way in which to create equal opportunity in society, to lift people up and broaden their horizons, and through research to tackle wicked problems and focus on the future.

ANZSOG’s role in the modern public sector

ANZSOG is a distinctive and important institution, created by governments for governments and focused on meeting their needs in education, research and other advisory services.

This is an organisation with a strong reputation and a twenty-year history of excellence in teaching and research. Hundreds of senior executives are alumni of our programs, and our networks of practitioners and academics stretch across Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the world. Our unique cross-jurisdictional structure is increasingly suited to a networked, and digitally enabled and connected age.

In recent years, ANZSOG has evolved its programs, both to adapt to the world of online and blended learning, and the new capabilities required by our member governments. We have retooled our research program to make it more relevant to the needs of governments, producing applied translatable insights while maintaining academic rigour.

We have cultivated the ANZSOG-auspiced National Regulators Community of Practice (NRCoP), which brings regulators together to share experiences and is now offering regulator-specific professional development directed at enhancing the capability and professionalism of regulators, instrumental in improving citizen outcomes.

Our work in the vital area of Indigenous policy is guided by our First Nations strategy, which articulates our goal of becoming a culturally confident organisation, working to make public services culturally competent with increased First Nations representation at levels.

We are doing this by building First Nations perspectives into our education programs and organising events such as last year’s First Peoples to All Peoples conference which brought together over 900 public servants, academics and First Nations community leaders.

Continuing this work will be a priority for me because, as the recent Productivity Commission report into the Closing the Gap framework has shown, it is an area where governments need additional support.

Working with governments to help them adapt

At ANZSOG we are continually adapting what we do because the operating environment of public services is changing and the public sector must be supported to change with it.

Many in the public sector acknowledge, that government services and systems are based on an outmoded model and operations that in many cases are no longer fit for purpose, and almost certainly not fit for the future.

Some of these issues are structural borne of long-running underinvestment in people, systems, infrastructure and digital capability. A systematic and sustained commitment will be required to rebuild, with a particular focus on fostering a high-performing culture of openness, innovation, collaboration and partnership.

In developing new ways of working and solutions for the challenges we face as a society, the public, private and not-for-profit sectors will need to work together. Whether it is digital transformation, managing the impacts and recovery from emergencies and crises, or the pressing demands of sustainability, there is much for leaders across sectors to learn from each other

For public sector leaders grappling with these issues, the additional imperatives of maintaining integrity and public trust, and ensuring responsiveness to the political system, will be constants.

It is incredibly important that we get public sector reform right. Strong, independent, high-quality public services and governance are the invisible infrastructure of our society. They create the systems, often unseen and under-appreciated, that allow the rest of society to flourish.

I am excited to be embarking on this role, and continuing to strengthen ANZSOG’s contribution as a vital partner to the public service in delivering on its commitments to improved citizen and community outcomes.