Conquering the public sector jungle with Jane Drummond
An ad on one of the job boards at the University of Sydney in 2008 is responsible for steering Jane Drummond into the NSW public sector where she has become one of the most accomplished women in her field.
An ad and the global financial crisis.
“It was never the plan. I thought I would probably end up practising law,” Ms Drummond, who at 29 is one of the most senior women at Roads and Maritime Services, reminisces.
Fast forward nine years and multiple roles, secondments and acting positions later, Ms Drummond has propelled her career from the lowest rung on the public service ladder to a Senior Service Two position and is currently tasked with creating a new branch for the biggest NSW agency.
“I am the Roads and Maritime Services lead for any funding of financing of motorways, all motorways commercial arrangements as well as overseeing reforms of the agency’s tolling business,” she says.
Known for her cool advice, analytical skills and specialisation in governance and strategy, she is the holder of an MBA as well as a law and a commerce degree. She has led a number of cross-functional, inter-agency teams to develop financing and commercial strategies for existing and future motorways and is currently charged with creating a new branch focusing on commercial strategy and transactions.
“’If you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ is something that a previous manager said to me once and it’s stuck with me,” she says.
“I’ve always felt in government if you want to do the standard hours you can, but I’ve been able to accelerate my career because I have pushed it harder. I’ve worked harder than many of my friends in the private sector.
“Working in transport’s a really exciting place to be. I love having direct project delivery responsibility. Some people might see it as a burden but the accountability for the final decision is what motivates me.
“All the extra hours I’ve put in have been not to meet requirements of my current role but to be able to demonstrate my skills and learn enough to take an extra step - so a promotion is like overtime backpaid.
“It’s about being able to adapt your responsibilities at work to meet your own capacity balanced by any commitments you may have outside,” Ms Drummond, who still manages a twice weekly dance class, said.
“It’s funny where law can take you. There are so many career paths beyond being a lawyer.
“I started in the public sector by chance, really. When I graduated from law there weren’t as many opportunities for new graduates because of the GFC.
“Roads and Maritime is a super flexible place to work while being challenging and demanding – which is why I’ve been able to progress. If you want to work really hard the opportunities are there.
“And the work is much more exciting than what I hear my friends in the private sector are doing and the decisions we make are really important,” Ms Drummond, who works closely with Roads and Maritime Chief Executive Ken Kanofski, said.
She aspires to be a senior executive with frontline service or major project delivery accountability and says one of her motivations in continually progressing her career is the knowledge she would like to start a family at some point.
“Knowing I will have to take time out of my career has helped propel me and spur me along. I was also really young completing my MBA and I did that because I wanted to have that degree complete before any family commitments,” she says.
Ms Drummond’s public sector career path started in 2008, while still studying for her law degree and in order to gain experience working in an office, she successfully applied for a part-time position as a procurement trainee at the then Department of Commerce.
In 2009 she then became a Graduate Project Officer at the Department of Commerce, moving on to a number of roles at DFSI and Roads and Maritime and taken up a number of secondment and acting opportunities.
When it was announced in January this year that there would be a new NSW Cabinet Minister specifically to oversee the WestConnex project, Ms Drummond was seconded for a few weeks to help provide some expertise in getting the office started.
“I could have never predicted in 2014 when I started working on WestConnex that one day the NSW Government would appoint a WestConnex Minister. Now I’m a key point of contact in Roads and Maritime for the WestConnex Minister’s office.
“Being open to working in new, different, and uncertain environments has allowed me to take unexpected opportunities as they come along.”