Ideas in Action

June 19, 2015 | Posted by: Nick Field

The lone Sloan ranger – Murray Smith

The lone Sloan ranger

It’s a long way from the Victorian Police Academy to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan Business School, but it’s a journey Murray Smith is about to embark on. After a gruelling application process, he is one of only 100 individuals worldwide selected to join their annual intensive MBA program that counts Kofi Annan and Benjamin Netanyahu amongst its alumni.

The career path

A graduate of the academy, Murray fully expected to embark on a long police career and retire from there at 60. However once his early career highlights included: a broken arm, a serious car accident, a brawl that raised the prospect of Hepatitis C and the prospect of many more years dealing with high crime rates and critical incidents in Melbourne’s West; it was time to act on his mentor’s advice and get an education to get more options.

That study took the form of a Bachelor of Arts (Criminal Justice Administration) and then a Masters in Business specialising in Human Resources and Industrial Relations. In looking to understand his shortfalls for gaining senior police roles, he applied for a position at Consumer Affairs Victoria and got it. He reflects that it is not until you step out of an organisation or role, that you truly appreciate your skills and how they might be valued by others. In this case the police training in assessing risks, making decisions acting on limited information and being action orientated.

The change of environment also gave him a change of perspective, namely you can opt for the safe and comfortable career, but you may never know what you might achieve without some personal risk. It is this attitude that has seen him take on subsequent roles with Responsible Alcohol Victoria, the implementation of IBAC , Public Interest Monitor, VCGLR and now his current role as Director, Compliance and Performance at the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). His 18 months in post have seen a focus building internal capacity and capability through training, structural changes, risk based regulation, addressing past stakeholder issues, changing behaviours, functional capability analysis, relationship management and now predictive statistical analysis. All with the intent of changing the perception of VBA as a regulator to industry, not a facilitator.

The course

A long held desire to study overseas was the catalyst for this next career move. But it was also driven by a need to challenge personal assumptions, break down the public sector group think, become more innovative and get exposed to some of the globe’s best and brightest minds. Course students come from more than 60 countries every year, and it is ranked number 1 in more subjects than any other MBA program in the world, with a strong emphasis on innovation. Course speakers include entrepreneurs and systems thinkers from New York, Washington and the Silicon Valley.

Keeping up with the Smiths

Murray will be taking his wife and two young sons for a year of living in Boston from June, and views this as a learning experience for the whole family on the cultural differences of living in the USA.

He hopes to return to Melbourne in a year and further shape his public value leadership style from all that he learns.

And his advice to others? Have a plan, but be prepared to be flexible and be active in taking opportunities and personal risks.

Have you ever taken a personal risk to advance your career?


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