During 25 years in the New Zealand public service, Jill Bond moved comfortably between senior leadership roles in health, education and housing, and government ministerial offices, before changing direction and joining the not-for-profit sector where she now serves as Chief Executive of New Zealand Kindergartens.
In each of her more recent roles, Jill has drawn on lessons she learnt from completing ANZSOG’s Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) in 2005.
Until then, most of her career involved running large operational teams, first at a provincial level, then nationally, and the EMPA gave her a more holistic view of how government works.
“I hadn’t had any policy exposure or practice, so doing the EMPA really helped me in terms of the machinery of government, particularly around delivering public value, understanding the authorising environment, understanding the interplay between different authorising environments, and the development and formation of policy at a strategic level,” she said.
“When I looked back on my career it made absolute sense to me why some of my initiatives never flew. They were only about the here and now, they weren’t linked to the strategic direction of the organisation, they didn’t take into account the bigger picture of where the government was heading.”
While Jill says she “fell into” her first job in the public sector, she was happy to have the ability to make a difference to peoples’ lives. It also gave her an opportunity for growth and development and a chance to take up formal leadership roles.
Two years ago, she decided to take a break before re-joining the workforce in the not-for-profit sector where she could share what she had learnt through her career.
“Knowing how the systems work helps me to direct my time, effort and energy into the things that will make the biggest difference for our local kindergarten associations,” she said.
New Zealand Kindergartens represents 16 regional kindergarten associations, which provide over 180 kindergarten and other services nationwide. The organisation works with government and its agencies, advocating high-quality, accessible and inclusive kindergarten services in every community, and working to lift standards.
“It is a very varied role: strategic, political and operational,” Jill said.
“I engage with politicians, public servants, and our local associations. I provide advice and guidance to local association leaders and Boards, I do training and development for leaders within associations, and governance training with local boards. I also help them with strategic planning.
“I have no jurisdiction over the local associations so it’s influence, it’s leadership and it’s all about relationships.”
One of the organisation’s recent wins is a New Zealand Government decision to reinstate a funding policy, scrapped 10 years ago, to recognise teacher-led early childhood education that have 100 per cent qualified teaching at their centre.
“Reinstatement of that funding is a really good example of how we have been able to influence decision-makers at the right time to support a decision being made that will benefit children,” Jill said.
The tools and techniques taught in the EMPA have given her the confidence to try new approaches supported by academic frameworks. The evidence-based approach helped win the support of senior decision-makers.
It also helped Jill to understand the importance of including the customer’s voice in the development of new or changed programs, something she incorporated into work she was doing in education which led to a more successful implementation.
It taught her to work quickly and collaboratively in a fast-paced environment with people she’d never previously met.
“It has been invaluable to be able to work at pace in different contexts and with a variety of people, and I think it has meant my contribution has been more impactful because I have been confident to put my views forward more quickly than I would have done in the past.”
Jill also has a Master of Business Administration from Waikato University, which she says was heavily business focused with an emphasis on financial viability, sustainability, market share and market growth.
“While I don’t regret doing it for a minute, in terms of public sector, the EMPA was more valuable because of the whole focus around machinery of government, public service and a real focus on people and community. I was able to take the academic learnings and apply them almost instantly in my own context.”
Fifteen years later, Jill remains in touch with people she met during the EMPA and attends refresher days and annual events. She is one of two New Zealand representatives on ANZSOG’s Alumni Advisory Council, which enables her to contribute to ANZSOG programs and give back to the organisation that helped shape her development.
“I know one of the struggles that people have supporting EMPA participation is the cost, but for me, you can’t put a price on the value it brought both in career advancement and in equipping me for the role I am doing now,” she said.
“Doing the EMPA has meant I deliver greater value to my organisation and ultimately to the public.”
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.