Design for Public Sector Leaders

Due to high demand this event has now SOLD OUT.

But don’t despair! We are planning to run this event again in Melbourne at the end of September. We are seeking to confirm the date at the moment.

To be among the first to receive information on the new dates, please register your interest below.



Take the mystery out of good design.

There is a great deal of interest in design thinking, human centred design and strategic design in the public sector, but how well do we understand its practical applications or how to bring it into the work we do every day?

In order to examine the value, the limitations and to help us develop a ‘design lens’ as public sector leaders, Mandarin Live is bringing you a day of presentations, workshop activity and panel discussions to pick apart this complex topic.

Programmed and led by Dr Mathan Ratinam, inaugural Managing Director of CivVic Labs at LaunchVic, and a former Lead Design Specialist at the World Bank, and supported by leading experts in the field, this unique event invites participants to consider real-world scenarios for practical, actionable learnings.

What to expect:

Some history and theory will set the context, then we’ll be zooming in on practical aspects of design practice. An expert-led program will focus on developing critical thinking on how design can work in public sector organisations: what it can do, what it’s not meant to do, and how executives and senior managers can lead their teams around the design process for public good.

Program leader Dr Mathan Ratinam (see profile below) will be assisted by design experts drawn from the public sector, academia and commercial practice who will present their ideas, opinions and experiences. The intent of the day is to provide conceptual frameworks and strategic guidance for how design can play a meaningful role within the unique conditions of the public sector.

The experience is less about training people to become designers and more about how to integrate design into their work. The format will be part thought-leadership style with provoking panel discussions and presentations to better understand design practice, and part workshop with activities to allow attendees to experience the conceptual frameworks.

About the lead facilitator:

Dr Mathan Ratinam has over 18 years experience as a design professional, innovation specialist and entrepreneurial educator. He has spent the last decade operating at the intersection of design, innovation and international development focusing on climate innovation, entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems.

Mathan was until recently the inaugural Managing Director of CivVic Labs at LaunchVic, Victoria’s startup agency. As an educator he has taught at Columbia University and the Parsons School of Design in New York and RMIT in Melbourne.

Previously, he was the Lead Design Specialist in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit at the World Bank and has also been engaged as a strategic designer by the White House during the Obama administration, various UN agencies, the US Department of Defense, international NGOs and been an advisor to the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

What will be some of the outcomes from the day for you?

  • Help to see the potential of design with services and people in mind
  • Understand the potential and the limitations of design
  • Appreciate that good design application is not about toolkits but an approach and a mindset
  • Understand that effective design is all about de-risking challenges, not betting on a one chance solution
  • Appreciate that all design is re-design, with cycles similar to the policy process.

Who will you hear from and interact with on the day?


  • Mathan Ratinam, Inaugural Managing Director of CivVic Labs at LaunchVic and lead facilitator
  • Lina Patel, Founder, Revma Consulting and co-facilitator


  • Sophie Turner, Service Design Manager, Victoria’s Department of Premier & Cabinet
  • Chris Marmo Co-founder, Paper Giant
  • Kylie Long, Principal Advisor, Family Safety Victoria
  • Yoko Akama, Associate Professor, School of Design, RMIT University
  • Alvaro Maz, Co-founder, Code for Australia

What will the day’s program look like?

9:00-9:30 Registration & Welcome Coffee 
9:30-9:45 Welcome and Overview
9:45-10:00 Understanding Design
A brief history of Design and its evolving practice.
10:00-10:45 A Design-led Approach for the Public Sector
A practical process for integrating design into public sector activities. 
10:45-11:00 Morning Tea
11:00-11:45 Fireside Chat – The Human Centred Design Playbook
Sophie Turner, DPC Victoria, will present and discuss their work on the Human Centred Design Playbook for government.
11:45-12:30 Panel – Design and Ethics
Exploring the ethical dimensions of design-led approaches – Kylie Long & Yoko Akama
12:30-1:30 Lunch
1:30-3:00 Activity – Prototyping and Iteration
This will be an active session to understand Prototyping. 
3:05-4:00 Panel – Developing Partnerships
Tips for effective collaboration between public servants and designers – Alvaro Maz & Chris Marmo
4:00-4:30 Closing Address 

Who would find this event suitable?

  • Public servants, both managers and senior executives
  • Managers in NGOs
  • Managers in peak professional and industry associations
  • Consulting firms working with government
  • Private sector firms working for government
  • Higher education management and faculty unfamiliar with design theory and practice

Mandarin Live programs present practical, engaging, user-focused explorations into the issues affecting you at work every day. It’s the same inquisitive public-sector coverage and analysis you’re used to reading in the Mandarin, only live.



Victoria University, City Convention Centre.