Professional Foundations Program

schumann & fisher

Professional Foundations Program

Young successful women colleagues discuss joint project, coaching or mentoring in loft office

Next intake Cohort 5

Starting 26 February 2021

Register here 


Find out more
What is the Professional Foundations Program aiming to achieve?

Engaged, collaborative, adaptive public service professionals, excelling today, prepared for tomorrow

Public sectors, governments and the private sector everywhere are grappling with the profound economic, social, geopolitical and technological changes. Australia’s public sector ranks amongst the best in the world, and a lot of good work is already underway.

One of the key drivers of future public sector success will be a cadre of public servants who are motivated, reflective, historically aware, cognisant of critical future trends and collaborative by default.  They will be equipped to identify, plan for and respond to future developments.

Providing public sector professionals with focussed training and development throughout their career will be central to achieving these ideals along with maintaining their engagement and developing their intellectual capital.

This program aims to prepare higher-performing, early career public servants to excel in their current roles and lay the groundwork for the future by developing mindsets and skillsets, strengthening engagement, and encouraging a collaborative ethos in pursuit of the public sector’s higher purpose.

Who is the program aimed at, what will you get out of it?

Early career staff who want to be good at their job and want to make a difference

Our target group is generally in their first two to eight years of public sector experience and ideally between the APS 5 and EL1 levels or State public sector or local government equivalents.

Staff outside these levels will be accepted if supported by their agency.

The program helps our people to explore themselves, their roles, the  public sector system, and the future.  They learn, reflect, observe – and practice. They will work on problems they want to solve or opportunities they want to test, using new tools and with support from the program facilitators and an SES mentor.

They will also develop a plan to help them with their current performance and to their future contributions and career.

What does the program involve?

Learning modules, diagnostics, coaching, peer networks, SES mentors, innovative projects, conversations with current and former senior leaders

The program involves 10 days of off-site training conducted over 12 months. You will get

  • one day Module each month for ten months for the whole group, to introduce the concepts and tools, with senior guests
  • Five, one-hour individual coaching sessions with a qualified executive coach spread over the ten months of the program
  • Sessions from Dr Kirsten Peterson, a performance psychologist with extensive experience in helping people to develop ‘higher performance and a happier life’
  • Teamwork using tools from human-centred design, digital leadership and agile, on a topic related to preparing the public sector for the future
  • A senior public sector Team SES mentor
  • A final presentation event – presenting to a group of senior APS and State public sector members, participants’ supervisors and each other
  • Career and personal development planning with personalised advice from your coach and senior public servants.
What’s different about the Foundations approach?

 This is a cohort-based program, designed by experienced former senior executives

We use a cohort-based, action learning approach using knowledge, tools, and approaches developed for the public sector, and with support from current and former senior public servants.

The program has been designed by two former experienced Public Sector Senior Executive Service members. As well as using our own experience, expertise and networks in creating the program, we have drawn on the thinking from senior leaders and academics, and international best practice and ‘future of the public sector’ initiatives.

Between us we have a relevant set of skills and expertise having:

  • Worked at the state, Commonwealth and international levels of government including in Governor General’s, Ministerial and Secretary’s Offices and in a wide range of functional areas and agencies
  • Designed and run successful talent development programs for public sector staff
  • Academic training in public policy, human geography, and psychology, with publications in public policy and political science
  • Level two Executive Coaching qualifications, accreditation in diagnostic assessments, and certificates from US Universities in Coaching, Agile, Human-Centred Design for Innovation and Digital Mastery.
How does program achieve its aims?

Developing mindsets, skillsets and toolsets

The Professional Foundations program consists of a total of ten days of off-site training conducted over 12 months.

As the program has a deliberate emphasis on exposure to a diversity of experience and worldview, participants will be drawn from a range of APS and state agencies and from across functional areas.  This diversity will also help to develop enduring networks that will stand participants in good stead over time. The program will provide:

  • Foundational knowledge introducing key concepts relevant to the public sector profession (drawn from the economic, political science, philosophy, psychology, and public administration disciplines)
  • An introduction to critical global and domestic trends relevant to the future of the public sector
  • Projects using multi-disciplinary teams using practical topics related to preparing the public sector for the future. Projects will lead to real-world outcomes and will foster critical thinking, practice in modern problem‑solving approaches, collaboration across edges and innovation. Program facilitators and an SES mentor will support teams
  • Public service basics including an understanding of the Australian political and governance arrangements, budget processes, performance reporting along with key public administration and legislative themes, including values and integrity
  • Discussion guests from the public sector and academia provide exposure to relevant, interesting and insightful thinking
  • Practical tools and techniques for managing yourself and others, engaging with stakeholders and communicating with influence
  • Coaching, mentoring and psychometric assessments
  • Collaborative and enduring networks developed with participants from other agencies and functional areas.