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CAUDIT Secondment Case Study

Greg Sawyer is seconded to CAUDIT from the University of Sydney in 2019 in the role of Strategic Initiative Development Manager. Greg discussed the opportunity and his work within CAUDIT at a University of Sydney Careers Day.

How did the secondment opportunity at CAUDIT come about?

Completing the CAUDIT Leadership Institute in 2018 I remained active in the graduate community and connected to CAUDIT. The monthly newsletter from CAUDIT advertised the opportunity for secondment. I approached my manager and the CIO, received permission to apply and submitted an application. The opportunity to work for CAUDIT, work across the sector, engage with leadership, enrich my higher education experience and be completely out of my comfort zone was a significant motivation.

What initiatives/work you been involved in and what’s been your key learnings so far?

I am currently work on three initiatives. The first is on cybersecurity developing the business case and funding model for the Australasian Higher Education Cybersecurity Service (AHECS). Cybersecurity is front of mind for IT Leaders, was number 2 in the CAUDIT 2019 Top Ten Topics and is an increasingly significant issue with the higher education and research sector.

The second is the CAUDIT Professional Development initiative leveraging the CAUDIT Leadership Institute and Managers Program success to develop the business case and funding models to provide an expanded portfolio of professional development options  to build capability within the HE IT workforce.

The third is working with Microsoft and a number of members on joint initiatives that have the opportunity to transform some activities within the sector. The aim of the first project is to unearth insights not available at an institutional level and provide faster access to anonymised aggregated data. The project will also work through technical, administrative and legislative compliance issues.

The key learnings so far. Reading 400 pages of legislation is riveting! CAUDIT is a small team – just seven people (if you include me) spread across Australia. Working agile with significant speed in delivery, but also a responsibility to match, relying on video conferencing for communication and managing workload has been a change from my role at the University of Sydney. The knowledge learnt from working across the sector, presenting to and interacting with leaders, gaining a far deeper understanding of the sector & institutions and the initiatives I am working on (which are key focus areas across the sector), has really expanded my skills. I didn’t go in to the secondment with any pre-set expectations of what the role would be outside a general understanding. I wanted to get as much as possible out of the secondment, and for that I am glad as it has been so much more than I could have expected.

What’s next for you and what advice would you give others about securing opportunities like this:

What’s next: Delivering approved business cases and to have ‘analysed data’ from three institutions in the data lake with data scientists providing mind blowing insights. I still have a few months to continue to deliver on the approval of the business cases for CAUDIT’s two strategic initiatives, commence delivery and expand the Microsoft pilot as well as address additional initiatives with Microsoft. I then have a month off over Christmas touring Europe with my daughter before coming back to my substantive role at the University of Sydney at the end of January 2020.

As to career advice - be open, actively seek opportunities and then seize the opportunity. The worst outcome (from an expression of interest or application) would be to hear ‘no’ – and even that isn’t bad as it shows your passion and career progression opportunities that you are seeking. And if you are successful, take the opportunity because in our sector we are exposed to some amazing opportunities, people and outcomes that really do shape our community.

Greg Sawyer, second from right participates in the panel discussion at the University of Sydney Career Day