He was inspired to join NSW Ambulance after seeing his dad at work, racing to the aid of a man who had collapsed at a hockey game. “All I could think about in that moment was ‘that is my dad’,” he says.
Brad went on to work as a paramedic for 20 years, later leading major projects at Strategy and Innovation at New South Wales Ambulance.
He began his journey towards the Certificate in Executive Management & Development (CEMD) at AGSM @ UNSW Business School after discovering his Aboriginal heritage.
“AGSM partnered with the Public Sector Commission in 2014 to deliver the first Aboriginal Career & Leadership Development Program (ACLDP),” he explains. “It was a transformational program and provided me with credit points towards the AGSM CEMD.”
To achieve the CEMD, participants are required to accumulate credits through a variety of leadership and management courses. Completing the CEMD also provides students with credits toward select MBA programs.
“Once I understood that there was a pathway to a tertiary qualification, I was hooked,” Brad explains.
An immersive leadership program
As part of his CEMD, Brad completed the General Manager Program, Commercial Management Program, and Leading Through Influence course, which all provide students with the tools they need to succeed in management.
Through this, he says, his approach to leadership was transformed.
He went from focusing on what he needed from his teams in order to be an effective manager to reflecting on the type of leadership his teams need from him in order to benefit their outcomes.
“That was an epiphany for me. And the answer changes depending on the situation,” he says.
“In the fast paced, high pressure environment of Pre-Hospital emergency health care, being agile and flexible is critical to ensure that my team members’ welfare needs are addressed.”
During National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week, a week dedicated to promoting the achievements of Aboriginal people, Brad was invited to be a keynote speaker at an event of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority in London.
“I had always been a reluctant public speaker, and this was my first official speaking event,” Brad recalls. “In preparing for the hour-long session I drew on all of the skills that I had learned on the program.
“I must have looked a little silly riding my bicycle through Hyde Park on the morning of the event with my tongue in my cheek yelling ‘nuclear proliferation,’ but these little exercises really assisted me in preparing to stand in front of 40 people for an hour and talk about me!”
“When senior people understand that you have your leadership education from AGSM, they have confidence that you are up to the task.”
Creating social impact
In Australia, where the employment rate for Indigenous people is much lower than the average, leadership programs like these are not only helpful, but vital in changing the shape of the workforce.
“I was on the pilot course of the ACLDP and I immediately understood the potential value in the program,” Brad explains, “not only for me as a senior leader with NSW Ambulance but as a role model for aspiring Aboriginal leaders in the public sector.”
It was directly through the CEMD program at AGSM that Brad had the opportunity to undertake a Senior Executive role in the New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet, a department dedicated to enhancing the lives of the citizens of NSW by delivering outcomes—a place where Brad is able to use his leadership skills in order to support the Indigenous community in Australia.
He explains: “I have moved from a paradigm of ‘what do I need from my teams to be an effective manager’ to one of ‘what type of leadership do my teams need from me for them to achieve their outcomes’.
“The CEMD has helped me to influence conversations and decisions that have led to better employment outcomes for Aboriginal people,” Brad continues. “I can identify moments where I have changed strategy and improved performance, all because of things that I have learned from the CEMD program at AGSM.”
After finishing his work at the New South Wales government, Brad will return to NSW Ambulance as an even stronger leader, with an “even more robust suite of skills that I can apply,” he says.
“Could I have got my tertiary qualification at another university? Of course, but the experience I had with AGSM was positive and has definitely led to further opportunities.”