One woman’s mission to revolutionise public service provision.
Tracy McLeod Howe has dedicated her long career to public service in Australia. Before being appointed CEO of New South Wales Council of Social Service (NCOSS), Tracy was CEO of Domestic Violence NSW, the peak body representing domestic violence services. Her current position at NCOSS is one of leader, spokesperson and representative of a wide range of health and community services in New South Wales.
The challenge faced by Tracy when appointed head of NCOSS was shifting its role and perspective, as well as increasing its dwindling membership numbers.
Tracy comments, “As an organisation we had to find a stronger collective voice. We had to play a significant role in the wider debate about how public services intersect and benefit from both government and the commercial sector.”
Tracy had a vision that would refocus the organisation and move it on from being a purely policy-focused organisation to a place of action and advocacy. A process of restructuring and re-hiring followed, during which time Tracy began to energetically pursue opportunities for connecting with the private sector, opening up ground-breaking discussions on funding and partnerships. These early discussions led to the formation of the Investing for Good conferences; a yearly event for government and investors to come together to explore sustainability and social impact investment.
Attending Cambridge Judge Business School to complete the General Management Certificate of Achievement (GMCA), was well timed to support Tracy through the change process. Tracy says, “I attended my first programme in Cambridge during the restructuring phase of the organisation, at a time when I was beginning to focus on the next stage of growth. It gave me the opportunity to explore, share and test my ideas with academic experts and experienced participants. It was effectively a live workshop for my vision and strategy.”
The GMCA, an Executive Education open programme, offers participants the chance to construct their own learning around key areas such as marketing, finance, strategy and leadership. Tracy timed her attendance of programmes to coincide with key milestones in the growth of the organisation.
“The GMCA helped me through some really challenging times during the growth of the organisation. During the programme I have navigated stakeholder management issues and worked through the process of commercialising our services to ensure our long-term viability; all at the same time as establishing a stronger brand and market presence. This is on top of tackling the usual issues faced by large, multi-member public service organisations.”
The GMCA brings together the latest insights from research and combines it with a pragmatism that enables participants to immediately apply their learning. In addition, it allows leaders to learn from their fellow participants, establishing an ongoing network of trusted advisors from a range of industries, countries and experiences.
Attending the programme helped me to turn my organisation around. It afforded me the skills and confidence to make the big changes necessary. It also acted as a welcome break from the day to day challenges of running a large membership organisation, offering me space to reflect on the big picture and test my ideas. It has been invaluable to the success of NCOSS.