Everyone likes a good news story and Helen’s journey on the Public Sector Management Program (PSMP) is inspiring and grounding at the same time. As a high performing academic student in her cohort, she not only achieved an outstanding GPA but also continues to work within her organisation to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace based on the knowledge gained through her PSMP workplace project. Her beautifully crafted speech at the Multi Faculty graduation ceremony not only represented the PSMP but reflected the journey all our students travel as they study with us at QUT. The highs when your dreams seem so attainable and the lows when family and friends step in to support you. She left all graduates with an inspiring message to take the power of their learning on the pathway of their own choice.
This is Helen’s speech…
Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor – Emeritus Professor Coaldrake AO – our distinguished guest speaker, members of the official party, my fellow graduates, ladies, and gentlemen.
Thank you Emeritus Professor Coaldrake AO for your exceptional leadership as QUT’s Vice-Chancellor. Under your stewardship, QUT has become recognised as one of the top 300 world universities and you have been instrumental in revitalising QUT campuses and in championing efforts to improve opportunity through the Learning Potential Fund. Thank you also for your address today – you have left with us a number of key insights including the reflection of your time at QUT and the value of education, both formal and informal. I would ask that you all join me (by way of applause) in thanking Emeritus Professor Coaldrake AO for his address today and for his contribution to higher education.
I am honoured to be standing before you today to reflect on the value of my most recent learning journey – the Public Sector Management Program (or PSMP).
Over the last 18+ years in the Queensland Public Service, I have seen first-hand the significant increase in “wicked problems” such as Indigenous disadvantage and homelessness that public servants are expected to tackle. These problems are pervasive and persistent and do not fit into the neat silos that have formed over time within the public sector.
The PSMP has provided me with a best practice toolkit that allows me to look at these complex problems from a very different perspective. It has also reinforced the importance of ensuring the teams I lead within my organisation build strong relationships with stakeholders to develop and implement well-informed and innovative solutions to address these challenges.
The PSMP also gave me the confidence to test ideas. My colleagues “fondly” recall the experience of me investigating approaches to build team resilience through trust, communication and a bit of fun. This included undertaking a blindfolded obstacle course. While the team was somewhat sceptical initially, there was a lot of laughter and that one little exercise saw team members have conversations with others that they had not had in a long time.
Through my PSMP workplace project, I also challenged my organisation to consider ways to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. There were some interesting debates with officers across my organisation such as the one that ensued around the merits of setting diversity targets amongst the economists concerned with ensuring resources (including human) are allocated efficiently. I am now working to ensure the recommendations from my project contribute positively to my organisation.
The PSMP learning journey has been entirely different from my previous academic endeavours. The value of education has taken on greater meaning given I am now the mother of two amazing children. My hope is that my children see a good role model that shows them the value of life-long learning, the importance of setting goals and striving to achieve them and being resilient in the face of challenges.
I could not have succeeded in my studies without the support and sacrifice of my family and loved ones, including my husband and children. I recall the time when my son somewhat hesitantly queried whether I had finished my assignment because I had stopped to play a game of handball and when my daughter exclaimed to her best friend’s mother that I could now take her places as my study was all finished!
On that note, I would now ask my fellow graduates to stand and express their appreciation (through applause) for the support their family and loved ones have provided them during their studies. Thank you and please be seated.
Congratulations to my fellow graduates and I wish you every success for your future endeavours. In ending, I will leave you with a quote from the well-known children’s author, Dr Seuss – “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.” Thank you.
PSMP Graduate and nominated Student Representative speaker
Final Graduation Speech, Multi Faculty Farewell ceremony
for outgoing VC, Prof Peter Coaldrake. December 2017