Belinda Clark: breadth makes your career ‘a hell of a lot more interesting’

Encouraging public servants to try new roles and portfolios, commissioner Belinda Clark draws on some of her own career’s most interesting jobs. From the UN to land rights claims to secretary of Justice to a private law firm, Clark says she never expected the roles that proved most rewarding.

Public servants need to be more open to taking up different career opportunities, thinks Victoria’s inaugural public sector commissioner Belinda Clark.

“Take every opportunity offered. Some of the most interesting jobs I’ve had in my life are ones I wouldn’t have known about or recognised,” she says. “I’d say we probably need more breadth of experience in people. We tend to have people who have great depth, which is really important, but not so much breadth.”

Although she stresses she doesn’t know why some are reticent to try new things — “people have said to me it could be due to job security, so there could well be reasons” — she urges people to consider broadening their experience, arguing that “even if it’s terrible it’ll do them good, because they’ll learn so much, how to react in a difficult situation or they’ll learn from their boss or whatever. But the person themselves can’t necessarily see that.”

“It just makes your life and career a hell of a lot more interesting,” she says.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.