Professional Foundations Program

Starting on the 25th of February 2022. Registrations for this cohort are open!

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

I have really enjoyed expanding my network both with people around my level and at more senior levels. Being introduced to someone in the area I really want to work in has been fantastic.’

The 10 Modules

MODULE 1: 25th of February 2022

Awkward introduction and icebreakers

MODULE 2: 25th of March 2022

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

MODULE 3: 28th of April 2022

The Public Sector and how public administration stuff works

MODULE 4: 26th of May 2022

Knowing you, Knowing me

MODULE 5: 23rd of June 2022

Stakeholders ‘R’ Us

MODULE 6: 28th of July 2022

Project design and hackathon episode 1

MODULE 7: 25th of August 2022

Project design and hackathon episode 2

MODULE 8: 22nd of September 2022

Baby Shark Tank

MODULE 9: 27th of October 2022

Tips and Tricks- Managing yourself and others

MODULE 10: 24th of November 2022

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 Schumannand Melanie Fisher- former SES officers in the APS and ACT Government and co-founders of the successful public sector Professional Foundations Program.




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