Magazine article Public Sector

Taking the Lead: Women in the Public Sector

Magazine article Public Sector

Taking the Lead: Women in the Public Sector

Article excerpt

Superintendent Sandra Manderson, New Zealand Police

Why did you choose the public sector?

I was six when I decided I wanted to be a police officer! I grew up in Sumner where there was always a community police officer. I liked the idea of working in the community and not in an office.

What were some of the things you did to prepare for working in leadership roles?

I tried to get practical experience and also did an MBA so I had a management and leadership qualification. In the Police we work our way up via the rank structure. I consciously took leadership roles and at times stepped out of my comfort zone to do them. You have to be confident and competent to succeed.

Do you think your journey has been different as a woman?

In the Police, women are still a significant minority. The opportunities are there but there has been slow progress for women moving to the top ranks. To succeed, it is important to set your own personal and work goals, which is something I've always done. You have to recognise your own skills and contributions and highlight the things you're good at. Women bring different qualities, very positive qualities, to policing; we often deal with things differently. Working for the Police doesn't suit everybody's family situation, but we have policies in place to accommodate flexibility.

Are there any tips you have for new professionals entering the public sector?

The public service offers amazing opportunities. You have to set your own goals - it's not about what they can give you to put on your CV, but about how you can positively contribute. Take on different roles or move around different agencies to gain experience. It's also very refreshing starting in a new position. I'm very pleased I have a career in the public service.

Clare Ward, Chief Executive, Families Commission

Why did you choose the public sector? It sounds cliché, but making a difference is impor- tant to me. My degree was in geography, cover- ing issues like housing and social policy. I have always been interested in people and society, so I began my career in social housing.

What were some of the things you did to prepare for working in leadership roles?

I didn't consciously prepare for my first manage- ment job, but I looked for opportunities to do new things and get involved. Since getting my first management role, I have consciously worked on my development as a leader. My best learn- ing has been on the job, applying new skills and taking stretch assignments. I have coaching and am always looking for ways to develop myself.

Do you think your journey has been different as a woman?

My partner and I have had to make choices; we've worked together so that I can combine family and children. I've also had to build on my presence and self-confidence so that I feel confi- dent in any setting. This might be true for male leaders as well. I have always worked in the social sector where there are more women.

Are there any tips you have for new professionals entering the public service?

Be prepared to move around and try everything you can. It's good to develop breadth and depth, working on different topics, policy and opera- tional, local and central government and other sectors. By doing this you'll focus on results and understand other people's perspectives.

Rebecca Kitteridge, Director, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service

Why did you choose the public sector? …

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