IPAA’s Hour in the Room sessions feature established and up and coming public sector leaders, who are charged with offering younger and emerging public sector leaders insights into how their careers have developed, what their motivations are, and other topics, as well as guidance on ways for audience members to approach their own professional lives. Usually offered to only a small crowd, for the first of the 2012 Hour in the Room sessions, and partly inspired by our recent relocation to far more accommodating premises, IPAA (SA) opened up the opportunity to nearly 30 people. Due to Emma Lawson’s exemplary and exciting career history, the room was full.

Emma Lawson is Director of Community Participations and Partnerships Team in Department of Premier and Cabinet. She recently headed up the Community Engagement part of the update for South Australia’s Strategic Plan. Prior to this, Emma headed up a team working on developing across government policy in the areas of innovation and opportunity and early in her career she was political advisor to Mark Rann and previously also Fred Nile.

At the session, Emma Lawson was interviewed by Ruth Ambler, IPAA (SA) Divisional Council Member and Director (Court Services), Courts Administration Authority, who posed the following sorts of questions:

  • For the attendees here today still at the beginning of their career in the public sector, is there any advice or knowledge that you can suggest to them to assist in their career planning?
  • When talking career development, I have often been advised to have a 5 year plan, 10 year plan. What are your thoughts on this, and has your career been something that was planned, have you jumped at career opportunities as they have come up, or a combination of both?
  • Throughout life we experience moments of pride and regret, can you share with us a one such moment that stands out in your work career?


If you had the power to change one thing in the world what would it be and why?

Now, because Chatham House Rules applied to this Hour in the Room session, we can’t reveal to you Ms Lawson’s answers. Suffice it to say, she really impressed her audience, who did not hesitate to ask her fearless questions during the facilitated discussion that followed on from the interview.

27 March 2012