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Tell us about the journey to your current role and what it this role entails?

I have been running the Committee for Sydney since January of 2019. Prior to that I ran a similar organisation in San Francisco (called SPUR), for many years.

The Committee for Sydney is a broad-based policy organisation that works to come up with practical solutions for some of Sydney’s most important problems. We convene people from all sectors, develop proposals, and advocate to government.

Can you describe a project you are working on or recently completed? What challenges did you face along the way and how were they overcome?

We are working on a big research project on Sydney’s innovation economy, trying to learn from the lessons of cities and countries all over the world. One of the big challenges is that this concept can be scary to people; when we say “innovation” many people here, “my job is going away.” So in order to get traction we are trying to paint a picture of an economy that generates plentiful good jobs, across all kinds of sectors – to try to help people imagine a future they can picture themselves in.

What did you learn from this project? What did it achieve?

This project is really helping us get clear on how we think about “the economy.” An economy that generates a huge number of dead-end, low paying jobs is a massive policy failure. It sometimes gets talked about as if it’s the fault of people who are in the bad jobs (they should raise their skill level, etc) but it’s actually a massive design flaw in our system if the economy generates plentiful bad jobs.

What excites you most about the future?

I’m excited for the potential of technology to support a high standard of living without generating any carbon. We have no choice now, but to push forward until we get there. I say this without being naïve about how hard it will be, but that potential exists.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to further their career in government, what would it be?

It’s so important that idealistic people continue to choose careers in government: all the rest of us depend on the great civil servants who make everything work. My only advice I guess would be to make sure you preserve time to keep learning from other institutions and other places, and don’t get so overwhelmed with work that you stop making time to keep learning. Easier said than done sometimes.

Where do you look to for further education? E.g. articles, podcasts, news sources, online courses, university etc.?

Books are the best!

What are you most looking forward to at the event?

I’m looking forward to hearing what a room full of super smart people are thinking about right now