Ideas in Action

September 18, 2015 | Posted by: Tristan Russell

Increasing your public value credibility: tips for young professionals

A career in public value extends beyond the boundaries of the public service. In an interview with the Mandarin in August, Victorian Public Sector Commissioner Belinda Clark offered her perspective on the issue of career pathways in public value:

“The public servant of the future [is] someone who’s very comfortable in a collaborative environment and working with, it could be NGOs, the private sector or unions.”

At Cube we share the Commissioner’s views and believe approaching a career in public value with a lateral outlook towards your options can enrich the capability of all public servants. In this article I’m not trying to impart wisdom to the cohort of younger public value professionals, but instead sharing some ideas which helped (and are still helping) broaden my public sector capabilities.

The disciplines and skills you can acquire in the public service form a strong public value capability foundation from which to build on. In project based positions you learn the importance of managing stakeholders and achieving milestones within timeframes and budget. While in policy roles you practice developing and testing options to define the most effective solutions to complex problems. These capabilities are all applicable outside conventional public service delivery roles.

While public service skills are valued outside traditional Department/Council based positions, it works both ways. As the Commissioner says, it’s valuable to gain confidence in other areas. Not-for-profits, peak bodies, public sector organisations such as regulators and also the private sector can all add to your public value skill-set. Most importantly, every new challenge is in itself providing desirable qualities such as diverse experience and agility. This principle is one of the reasons for the Victorian Public Sector Commission’s capability strategy review, which is due to be released in late 2015. The VPSC will look at incentivising movement across public value organisations. I believe that increasing your public value profile will help lateral career moves. The question is, how can you increase your public value credibility? A few of my favourite strategies which can help are:

  1. Monitor the sector: keep an eye on industry publications, twitter feeds and media releases within your chosen public sector stakeholder environment. This will put you in a good position to speak with authority about the current policy landscape to potential employers.
  2. Join committees or interest groups: surrounding yourself with other passionate professionals is a great way to get exposure to opportunities and diverse sector issues. For example, I joined the Advisory Committee for the IPAA’s young professionals network, which allows me to contribute to sector development events and share experiences with others in the sector.
  3. Seek out secondments and acting opportunities: one of the best ways to expand your personal public value capabilities is to diversify your experience. For example, you may be in a project role and an opportunity for a policy position comes up within your Department, or maybe you’re in a business services position and spot an acting opportunity at a related public sector entity. Your skills in public value are transferable!

On October 7, I’ll be with fellow young professionals from YIPAA and LGPro discussing the attributes of the next generation public sector professional, come along on the day to hear from senior public value leaders and meet likeminded people.

Also, drop me a line at Cube if you’ve got any great ideas on building your public value credibility.

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