To market, to market

I’ve not posted recently about some of the intricacies of my current role. It is a big portfolio – ranging from being directly responsible for marketing communications for four of our key executive leadership programs but also maintaining strategic oversight of ANZSOG’s Alumni Program and managing the Alumni Advisory Council – one of our three key alumni cohorts. I also assist my Director with whole-of-school promotion and act in her role in her absence managing four staff members.

Our First Nations Conference next week in Brisbane happens every two years – the last one being held online due to COVID. This time around, it’s all hands on deck as much as some of our speakers and attendees from Aotearoa New Zealand have been affected by their state of emergency there. We are expecting over 800 people, which is the biggest event I’ve ever worked on and I am expecting to be pulling in some long hours helping manage attendees over the three days, hosting an Alumni Advisory Council in-person meeting (the first in two years), hosting the alumni tables at the gala dinner and being responsible for the ANZSOG stall at the Marketplace area where people will congregate for catering at break times from Great Hall and ‘yarning’ sessions with keynote speakers and facilitators. The event itself is being hosted by ABC journalist Dan Conifer. It is an ambitious undertaking for an organisation of our size but I think one which will continue to define us in the First Nations space.

With the help of our creative graphic designer, I managed to pull a whole-of-school brochure together in the space of one week – not an easy task given the amount of internal stakeholders we have. I thought you might be interested in seeing the whole menu of programs and areas ANZSOG works in. For attendees in Brisbane, you’ll see me and my colleagues on the Marketplace floor wearing our ANZSOG black T-shirts with our First Nations original Maori and Aboriginal artwork emblazoned on them.

Speaking of which, other retailers and sponsors will also have tables at the Marketplace including the Aboriginal Art Co. After reading about the founders on the Design Files a few years ago, I’m very excited to see what they’ll have on offer at their stall. If you like Aboriginal Art, I’ve not visited but often drive past Mandel Aboriginal Art Gallery at 673 Heidelberg Road in Alphington, which should do well there as the Yarra Bend development continues.

Image: Tony Maticevski @David Jones

Lastly, I’ve been amusing my colleagues and other friends with my gala dinner outfit story. After leaving things very last minute last Friday, I ended up going through my existing wardrobe and discovering I no longer fit not one, not two, not three… but four of my little black dresses and other evening gowns. With lockdowns and middle age spread – I’ve gone up a whole dress size – yowsers! So I found myself at David Jones last Sunday looking for a dress that actually fits me for next week’s gala dinner (which is more smart casual) and in future, I intend to hire a Glam Corner gown and be more organised. Still, this absolutely beautiful Toni Maticevski instrumental gown at David Jones caught my eye – it’s a showstopper if you have a special occasion and can afford the eye-watering price tag! My dress next week is a far more modest affair. Wish us luck.


A phoenix rising

Daylight savings ends soon and the change in season has been busy. We had an insane weekend attending two family functions, two basketball games, one football game (go Dees!) and one of our kids had been invited to two birthday parties. I spent Friday night and the past two days eating cake so some exercise is needed this week!

Watsonia public art mural by Helen Platania

I’ve had a really interesting fortnight job-hunting wise which culminated in me being offered not one but two jobs last week, which brought moral dilemmas of its own. I was lucky enough to pick up a 6 month contract for a strategic advisor role with a government utility via a recruiter but by the time background checks had been done and I was offered the contract mid-week, I’d already been interviewed for a permanent alumni role I’d applied for on SEEK prior to accepting the contract and was then asked to provide referees for the permanent role early last week. So everything ended up happening all at once.

I think I’d make a terrible poker player as I decided honesty is the best policy in the end rather than proceeding with the contract role and brought things to a halt letting the recruiter know how things had transpired. Needless to say, I think I landed roles with good people on both sides as the contract client was prepared to wait if I wasn’t offered the permanent role.

So where have I landed? I start work after Easter at ANZSOG – The Australia and New Zealand School of Government that teaches strategic management and high-level policy to public sector leaders. Given I’ve come from industry, I’ve been describing it to friends as like a Melbourne Business School but for the public sector if you work in government and wish to do a Master of Public Administration or Executive Fellows or strategic leadership short course. My role sits in the Marketing Communications team under the Education pillar (alongside Research and Thought Leadership) and I will definitely have my work cut out for me as the sole alumni representative. But hey, I’m up for the challenge after the year like no other!

I feel incredibly blessed given JobKeeper is coming to an end very soon for those in other industries and sadly for my higher education colleagues who were never given access to JobKeeper, I believe there will be further job losses. This was also my last roll of the alumni dice given roles are few and I was fully prepared to move to more of a communications and community engagement-type role.

If you have transferable skills then I hope you might take some comfort from my story and the fact that my friends who lost their jobs have all picked up work (albeit contract) since the start of this year. While persistence beats resistance and I have been on the front foot calling people and reaching out – in the end I’ve had to eat my words as the ANZSOG role was advertised on the open market and I had no contacts there so it didn’t come through my network (as much as I found out later one of my interviewers knew one of my referees – it is a small world in Melbourne). Reputation counts for a lot as well as being able to build relationships on the spot.

So that is my story for the week (and maybe for the year!) and while I have no picture of a phoenix rising from the ashes, I do have the Watsonia public art mural by Helen Platania (above) that features not one but two cockatoos – birds that can live up to 100 years. I’m not sure I’ll live that long but I definitely think it is possible to re-invent yourself and start a new life, a new relationship, a new job, whatever it is as long as you have hope and determination in your heart and do all you can to make it happen. If I can, then so can anyone else.