How To Survive Moving From Private to Public

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Photo by Marek Piwnicki on

This is the post you’ve all been waiting for: public sector employee tells all!

Ok, that’s not quite how this post will go. This article is solely my opinion and does not reflect the views of any organisation or its employees.

I know some of you follow my blog to monitor my progress so this one is for you.

So far, the transition from the bank to the government has been smooth and I’m enjoying it. Previously I’ve talked about transport and some of the similarities between corporate and government life.

It’s busy at the government

There are 8.1 million customers in NSW to keep happy. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually pretty busy!

One of my fears transitioning to public service was that I would slowly fade away into the background. This wasn’t something to worry about.

There is a variety of work going on and I know I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of opportunities and you definitely don’t have to stay in your lane. It reminds me of a certain investment bank from that perspective! However time is on a whole other dimension though if you compare those two!

I’ve been surprised to find many of my ex bank and consulting colleagues in the public sector. I’ve spoken to them and we’ve all agreed on one thing. It has pleasantly surprised us how stimulating the work is.

There is a lot of opportunity in the product space

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about product vision and strategy which has been refreshing. At my level of experience these are the things I should be thinking about and working on.

Previously, I’ve been bogged down with so many initiatives we didn’t always have the luxury to think about these things. But that’s exactly it, your vision and strategy shouldn’t be a luxury.

There are some good initiatives in place to build up the product management function and share experience within the team. For example, I don’t think they’ll mind me revealing “The Product Hour” where product people come together once a fortnight to talk product management. During this time we can discuss business problems or anything product related.

When it was my turn to host, I took in the product vision and strategy I’d been working on. It was valuable because I got diverse perspectives on the vision and was able to improve it. I turned my business problem into a team workshop and told the story of Amazon Kindle as we progressed through it. It was a fun way to explore a real business problem and a safe way for me to get input from transport experienced employees.

If you decide to adopt something like this, make sure it is psychologically safe for people to bring in their business problems without judgement. You also need to avoid letting the dominant voices take over.

It has been challenging to think about the needs of all customers

I’ve worked for digital banks in the past. The attitude there was if a customer wasn’t digitally savvy, then they weren’t our customer. Banks with a branch network would give them a solution. I suppose this works in a competitive industry.

When you’re providing a service to the public, you have to think about everyone. For example, in my domain ticketing, some customers can’t physically hold a ticket or a device to a gate. How do we make transport accessible for these customers? That’s an important question to explore.

It’s been motivating to be working on things that will help all kinds of people, not just those who can use an app or those who fall into the most profitable segment.

I really want to read “Building For Everyone” to better understand inclusive design. It’s actually got me thinking there’s so much more I need to build out to make this website more inclusive.

I hope this helps to give you some insight into life at transport

I appreciate this is me presenting my perspective and of course there are pros and cons to anything in life.

The biggest con has been working in a virtual environment full time and starting a new job for the second time in a year. I wouldn’t recommend it!

I’ve had to spend a lot of time listening and observing to understand what people care about. Then, use that knowledge to deliver my ideas. It takes time to build rapport and get buy in from stakeholders.

What do you want to hear about next on this website? Drop me a line in the comments!

You said you liked the “coming up next” feature so here it is:

Coming up next:

  • Imposter syndrome
  • Leadership
  • Escaping the build trap part 2
  • Human Powered: Supercharge your digital product teams with emotional intelligence

I'd love to hear what you think!