There’s a place for young talent in Treasury

By Melissa Coade

Friday June 25, 2021

Kevin Huynh

On the Way Up

Kevin Hyunh has been keeping some late work nights juggling meetings that are suitable for multiple time zones as part of his work supporting the Australian co-chair of the G20 Infrastructure Working Group (IWG). He used to consistently dial into 10pm virtual meetings but since daylight savings kicked in, the weekly international hook-ups have been set for a more reasonable 8pm start.

The 27-year-old Treasury assistant director is part of the department’s international economics and security division and was responsible for briefing the IWG co-chairs ahead of their latest meeting in May. This saw him collaborating with public servants from other G20 member countries to improve policies for infrastructure investment, as well as work with representatives of the G20 president member Italy. 

According to Hyunh, the IWG has a role in advising on policies to boost preparation, financing and management of quality infrastructure investments. Its initiatives aim to secure the provision of inclusive, sustainable and resilient basic infrastructure services to all. 

“The IWG aims to tackle the persistent gap in infrastructure investment, including by promoting them as an asset class to stimulate private sector involvement,” he says.

Canberra-based Hyunh was part of a group of Australian Treasury bureaucrats involved in five separate G20 IWG meetings held between December last year to June 2021. 

“At working group meetings, there are generally presentations and then G20 members and guest countries are given an opportunity to comment on the presentation and the workstream,” Hyunh explains.

“These generally run for around 4 to 5 hours. Sometimes, they are held across two days. Usually, these meetings finish just after midnight Australian time, which makes for a long working day!”

Hyunh also supported the work of the Australian and Brazilian IWG co-chairs, helping to identify any potential issues that may conflict with Italy’s priorities in the G20 infrastructure agenda and help ‘progress deliverables’. 

“A lot of the time is spent considering G20 members’ and guest countries’ comments on deliverables or documents that are being considered in the IWG,” he says.

Making the pieces fit together

The other side of Hyunh’s Treasury role is his corporate work leading the department’s culturally and linguistically diverse network (CALD). The network focuses on professional development but it also offers support and advocacy to department staff who are affected by their CALD background in any way.

“Some of our initiatives include keynote speaker events, training programs targeted at CALD staff, data analysis on CALD issues and languages other than English (LOTES) lunchtime sessions,” Hyunh says. 

For someone so early in his career (Hyunh completed his commerce degree from Monash University in 2015), Hyunh is going places fast. For over a year he worked as an economics analyst for the Northern Territory Department of Treasury and Finance in Darwin and then moved to Canberra for his current role in 2017. 

With the commonwealth Treasury, Hyunh has worked in the corporate and international tax division (CITD), Centre for Population and then the international economics and security division (IESD).

“I was one of the inaugural members of the Centre for Population (launched in late 2019), which is the primary location for all population related matters inside the Australian government and works closely with the states and territories, academics and think tanks in order to share data, research, ideas and expertise on population.

“It is also responsible for producing the population statement, which is an annual document that provides a comprehensive national picture of how the Australian population has changed and how we expect it to change in the future.”

Hyunh’s more recent work with the IESD group focuses on promoting the national interest by influencing key policies, strategies and international governance arrangements through engagement with international financial institutions, plurilateral forums including G20 and key bilateral partners. 

In this division the young mandarin was involved in analysing economic developments in Southeast Asia and nations in the Pacific before he took on his more recent role working for the G20 IWD.

Hyunh says that he finds the diverse, ever-changing environment of the department exciting and enjoys how the workplace values ongoing staff development.

“[The staff] bring lots of different experiences, perspectives and skills and I enjoy learning from them and trying to better myself,” he says. 

“Working at Treasury provides opportunities to work on some very high-profile challenges and the top priorities of the government. 

“I enjoy utilising my skills and contributing differing perspectives to influence government policy and work to the betterment of Australia and sometimes even other parts of the world,” he adds.

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