Valuing secondments: From public service to the Public Service Research Group

Photo of Nabil Ilahee
26.06.20
UNSW Canberra

Exposure to modern practices that are currently under trial or research is one of the valuable lessons Dr Nabil Ilahee, Director in the Patents area at IP Australia, will take away from his three month secondment with the Public Service Research Group (PSRG) at UNSW Canberra.

Selected as part of the IP Australia’s Talent Management Program, Nabil said one of the reasons he was interested in the secondment was that he had a keen interest in the issues of public sector strategy, organisational performance, and leadership.

“Through my work at IP Australia I had known of the research of the PRSG and its impact, and had even met Professor Blackman when she gave a presentation to our group on high performance. From this affiliation, the secondment to UNSW Canberra felt like a natural fit,” he said. 

When reflecting on his time with the PSRG, Nabil identified a wide range of projects he worked on, which included liaising with others on paper submissions, developing online training programs for APS graduates, and working with some of the most accomplished academic minds in public policy/public service research on helping agencies solve complex problems. 

“One of the most important things I will take away is the network and relationships – which can be extremely valuable in terms of being able to tap into experience and perspective,” he said.

Recognising the importance of transferring his learnings into the workplace, Nabil said that he thinks many organisations can often get stuck doing things how they’ve always been done, or how most people around them do it.

Expanding his knowledge with the PSRG has enabled Nabil to embed himself in a highly relevant field of research, introducing him to new concepts, strategies and tools to apply in his work at IP Australia, the public sector and society more generally.

As he reflects on his time with the PSRG, Nabil shares three important lessons to take into consideration when undertaking a secondment:

“Firstly, start by renewing your CV or resume so you can understand where your capabilities and experiences lie. This can further help identify important development or growth areas to target to further your development towards your career goals.

“Secondly, get some perspective from people you know, and those with experience prior to going into the secondment. My conversations with my own General Manager (who happens to be my mentor) and Professor Blackman (my supervisor), helped me shape the secondment to suit my development needs.

“And finally, challenge yourself and turn every opportunity into a learning opportunity to supercharge your development,” he said.

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