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Professional Foundations Program

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

We work with high-performing, early-career staff who are keen to make a difference. Our ideal participants are generally in their first two to eight years in the public sector. They’re ideally between the APS 5 and EL1 levels, or state public sector and local government equivalents. Staff outside these levels are accepted if supported by their agency.

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What does the program involve?

The program helps our participants to explore themselves, their roles, the public sector system and the future. Participants learn, reflect and observe – and, importantly, they practise. 


This program allows staff to work on problems they want to solve or opportunities they want to test. They apply new tools with support from the program facilitators and from an SES mentor.

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Participants develop an understanding of:

  • Key concepts for professionals in the public sector, drawn from economic, political science, philosophy, psychology, and public administration disciplines.

  • Critical global and domestic trends relevant to the future of the public sector.

  • Australian political and governance arrangements, budget processes and performance reporting, along with key public administration and legislative themes, including values and integrity.

The program involves 10 days of off-site training (either in person or online) conducted over 12 months. Participants receive:
  • Ten monthly, full-day group modules to introduce the concepts and tools, with senior guests.

  • Diagnostic assessments and practical tools for managing yourself and others, engaging with stakeholders and communicating with influence.

  • Five, one-hour individual coaching sessions with a qualified executive coach.

  • Guest sessions with experts drawn from the public sector, who provide exposure to relevant, interesting and insightful thinking.

  • Team projects using tools from human-centred design, digital leadership and agile, on a topic related to preparing the public sector for the future.

  • A final presentation at which participants speak to a group of senior APS and state public sector members, program supervisors and each other.

  • Career and personal development planning with personalised advice from a coach and senior public servants.

'Thanks once again for everything you both do, I know from personal experience and hearing from others that it truly makes the world of difference to people’s lives and careers!' Treasury Professional Foundations Program participant

The 10 Modules

MODULE 1: Thursday, 16 June 2022

Awkward introduction and icebreakers

MODULE 2:  Thursday, 21 July

The Public Sector: public policy – what is it good for?

MODULE 3: Friday, 26 August

The Public Sector: how public administration stuff works

MODULE 4: Friday, 23 September

Knowing you, Knowing me

MODULE 5: Friday, 28 October

Stakeholders ‘R’ Us

MODULE 6: Friday, 25 November 

Project design and hackathon episode 1

MODULE 7: Thursday, 8 December

Project design and hackathon episode 2

MODULE 8: Thursday, 2 February 2023

Tips and Tricks- Managing yourself and others

MODULE 9: Thursday, 16 March

You, your contribution and career

MODULE 10: Thursday, 30 March

The Whale Shark Tank, debriefing and the finish line

What’s different about the Foundations approach?

This is a cohort-based, action-learning program. We use knowledge, tools and approaches developed specifically for the public sector. Invaluable support is provided from current and former senior public servants.


The program has been designed by experienced senior public sector practitioners. It draws on the expertise of other senior leaders and academics, and applies international best practice and ‘future of the public sector’ initiatives, using case studies, research and expert guests.


We emphasise exposure to a diversity of experience and worldview, which means participants are drawn from a range of APS and state agencies and across functional areas. This diversity helps participants develop enduring networks of high benefit to their future careers.


Jo Schumann and Melanie Fisher are former SES officers with experience in the APS and ACT Governments, and at the International level.

For more information contact:




The Professional Foundations Program costs $5,500 (including GST).

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