Recent Blog
Recent Blog

12 December 2017

The skill every EA should be including on their resume

Author :
Whether you’re an Executive Assistant actively looking for a new role or just open to new opportunities, it’s important to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up-to-date with the skills and traits potential employees are searching for.

Whilst it may seem organisations prioritise different skillsets, there are many traits which all companies are begging for.

We analysed a cross-section of job ads from across public and private sectors to identify the most common traits executives were looking for in their assistants.
So what’s the trait in highest demand?

A positive, can-do attitude. 

Most, if not all, job ads said they were searching for applicants who were proactive with willingness to learn and perform well in high-pressure situations. They had their eyes peeled for an EA who could foster positivity throughout the office, take pride in their work and collaborate easily with other staff members.

Being technologically savvy came in next with desired proficiency in Word, Excel, Microsoft 365 and Adobe. A keen eye for detail and proof-reading was also highly regarded.

Other notable skills include minute taking, organisation, diary management and stakeholder relations.
See below the full list of skills to incorporate in your resume:

·         Ability to take control and thrive in high pressure situations
·         Excellent communication and time management skills
·         High attention to detail
·         Able to exercise a high level of discretion, confidentiality and sometimes political sensitivity in liaising with internal and external stakeholders
·         A positive, can-do attitude
·         Strong written and verbal communication skills
·         Flexibility and a proven willingness and ability to learn
·         Good computer skills, especially in data entry, Microsoft Excel, Word & Powerpoint is essential
·         Prior minute taking experience
·         Highly competent & organized
·         Proven experience arranging travel, diary and events management at an executive level
·         Be a strong, credible advocate for the company with all stakeholders
·         Identifies more and less critical activities and operates accordingly
·         A team player but also able to work on own initiative
·         Ability to build rapport and operate at all levels of the business

Someone just viewed your LinkedIn profile- make sure they’re impressed with what they see.

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Senior Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

11 December 2017

Improving NDIS Service Delivery Outcomes: one speaker’s thoughts on unlocking innovation for providers

Author :
For providers operating in a NDIS environment the way one deals with an age of consumer choice and control is an innovation opportunity.

1. Selecting the lane for your innovation ambition

To survive and thrive you need to develop and adopt a clear and conscious strategy. In some parts of your organisation and operations you may select to be in a certain lane:
  •    fast lane: being a leader of change
  •    middle lane: being a fast follower that adopts innovation from others; or
  •    slow lane: choose incremental continuous improvements and drive safe reliable services
The recommendation from research is to be clear on your innovation ambition.

2. Managing an innovation portfolio

Find a way to get a good grasp of all the dispersed initiatives - by managing an “innovation portfolio
Image source: Harvard Business Review, “Managing your Innovation Portfolio”

So, what does this looks like?
  • In the band of activity at the lower left of the matrix are core innovation initiatives - efforts to make incremental changes to existing services and incremental in roads into new markets.
  • This could be improvements to current programs for current beneficiaries.
  • At the opposite corner of the matrix are transformational initiatives, designed to create new offers—if not whole new businesses—to serve new customer needs. For organisations operating or considering operating in the disability sector – this is a key area of focus
  • In the middle are adjacent innovations, which can share characteristics with core and transformational innovations.
Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff of Deloitte make the argument that organisations require a balanced innovation portfolio
Organisations with a clear innovation ambition - strike the ideal balance of core, adjacent, and transformational initiatives across the enterprise, and have put in place the tools and capabilities to manage those various initiatives as parts of an integrated whole.
Best practice suggests that outperforming organisations typically allocate about 70% of their innovation resources to core offerings, 20% to adjacent efforts, and 10% to transformational initiatives.
In contrast, cumulative returns on innovation investments tend to follow an inverse ratio, with 70% coming from the transformational initiatives, 20% from adjacent, and 10% from core.
 The ideal balance differs depending on industry and organisation.
One thing is common: Organisations should consider executing at all three levels of ambition and managing their innovation system deliberately. 

3. Maintain a culture for innovation

One of the most important things is to maintain an open mind. A sense of inquiry, of curiosity is essential for innovation. Indeed – curiosity - could be an elevated to an organisational value.
Disruptive innovation, requires a culture of experimentation, a model that allows for testing and learning.
The challenge to acknowledge is around creating a culture of innovation in well-run, well-established risk averse organisations.
The antidote, is having skilled and able innovation managers across all functions of your organisation. So, what should you look for when you seek out these change makers:
  • They are good at bringing the creative ideas of others to market
  • Demonstrate sound judgement about what creative ideas will work
  • Can manage a creative process from ideation to fruition
  • Can estimate and articulate how potential ideas will work in the marketplace.
Failing fast requires a paradigm shift.
A question for your board and management team (and even funders) to consider: “Is failure an option?” Failing fast tends to be cited as a key element for start-ups. So the question for consideration by organisations: are the board, team, and funders ready to accept the “failing fast” paradigm? If not, maybe an alternative more palatable option is to “think big, start small, act fast”

4. Partnerships may provide strength

In unity there is strength, according to the moral of the fable from Aesop, “The Bundle of Sticks”. Just like Aesop’s fable unity and innovation arises from successful partnerships between organisations, their people, and collaborators with other leaders be they from the same sector or from outside.
So, what should you consider before collaborating with others?
  • Know yourself: Understand your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Recognise your partner’ strengths: Understand what each collaborating partner contributes to the design and delivery of services.
  • Shared Values: A commitment to improve social, cultural and economic outcomes for the community that the organisations represent.
  • Shared culture: Mutual trust, respect with openness in all activities.
  • Structure: A collaborative approach to decisionmaking and working together recognising the interdependence between the organisations.
5. Understanding the vectors of innovation

Collaboration within your organisation and outside your organisation are just 2 vectors for innovation. Other required for an organisation to be innovative, were identified in the Innovation Index for the Not for Profit Sector, delivered through a partnership between Westpac, Give Easy and Australia Post.
The Index is a diagnostic assessment tool to measure the depth and breadth of innovation capabilities across all sectors.
The list of vectors are:
  • Internal Collaboration: the ability for individuals and groups to connect and work together 
  • External Collaboration: building and maintaining diverse networks and partnerships with outside suppliers, service providers, organisations and thought leaders.  
  • Innovation Focus: innovation needs a strategy in its own right, including a vision, goals and metrics.  
  • Openness of Culture/Vision: creating an environment where separate ideas and perspectives can collide regularly, with a culture of openness, sharing and generosity.  
  • Organisational Velocity: achieving exceptional levels of performance, relentless focus on improvement, quick to respond and adaptable to change.  
  • Rewards/Recognition: encouraging innovative behaviour through an active program of acknowledgement, including peer recognition, promotion or financial reward.  
  • Stakeholder Centricity: deep engagement and empathy with donors and beneficiaries so we can engage with them in the most relevant ways  
Today’s world is one of constant change.
Every day there are new challenges; new problems that need new solutions; new solutions that may come from innovation.

Guest blog written by: Lali Wiratunga, Board Director, TAD Disability Services NSW 
The opinions expressed here represent Lali’s own opinion and and are intended as general information.

Lali Wiratunga is a Board Director at TAD Disability Services and the National Manager of Westpac's Davidson Institute . He is an active mentor for emerging leaders in the community and cares deeply about helping people and organisations realise their potential. In 2016, Lali was recognised in Pro Bono Australia's Impact 25, an award that recognises leaders in the social economy.

Twitter: @laliwiratunga

28 November 2017

The gruesome reality inside Australia’s youth detention centres

Author :
Dylan Voller in a spit hood and shackled into chair. Photo: ABC

ABC’s Four Corners shook the country last year when it revealed the abuses inside the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.

Investigative reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna exposed to Australia’s population how children and youth were abused by detention staff. The image of 15-year-old Dylan Voller in a spit hood and shackled into chair has become an iconic image of the gruesome truth that’s been happening behind closed doors.

Within 36 hours from that the show broadcast, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a royal commission into juvenile justice and child protection.

The $54 million final report, Royal Commission into the Protectionand Detention of Children in the Northern Territory, has now finally been released.  The report includes 143 findings and 226 discrete recommendations with some recommendations being particularly welcomed, for example closing the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre and High Security Unit, increasing family support mechanisms, increasing diversionary approaches and increasing engagement with Aboriginal organisations in child protection and youth justice.

"The failures we have identified have cost children and families greatly, they have not made communities safer and they are shocking," Commissioners Mick Gooda and Margaret White said according to Sydney Morning Herald.

The report stated that "Senior executives and the management and staff at the detention centres implemented and/or maintained and/or tolerated a detention system seemingly intent on 'breaking' rather than 'rehabilitating' the children and young people in their care," Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The commission makes several recommendations to both the NT government and the Federal government, and it is estimated that if these recommendations are put in place, $335 million could be saved.

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner promised to take action and work in partnership with communities and the federal government to see improved outcomes following the Inquest.

But the Commission has also been criticised for not going far enough, particularly in two areas, the ABC reported.

The Commission makes the recommendation to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 years. This is however not in line with international standards.

The UN Committee on Rights of the Child urged in 2007 that the minimum age for criminal responsibility should be higher than 12, and recommended the age of 14 or 16 instead.

The second failing, and the most prominent failure of the report, is that it doesn’t include a recommendation of criminal charges for the torture the children and youth experienced inside the centres that were investigated.

Former NT Corrections Minister John Elferink has condemned the lack of recommendations for criminal prosecution.

"What they haven't recommended, is a single criminal charge to be lodged against any human being associated with youth detention in the Northern Territory," the ABC reported.

Written by : Mimmie Wilhelmson

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

24 November 2017

The role of social media in contemporary emergency management

Author :
Information sharing between communities and public emergency services agencies is absolutely critical in times of a disaster, especially during large-scale events such as terror acts, bushfires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. This is a fairly novel channel of communication between citizens and government emergency services agencies and it is a two-way road. In recent years, social media and collaborative tech have become key ingredients of emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. It is through the use of social media that members of the public who are in the impact area have the ability to provide the relevant agencies with timely and accurate information and vice-versa.

To illustrate, the first responders and government officials working to help Florida residents survive Hurricane Irma relied on social media to communicate and coordinate their efforts, a sign of technology’s growing importance in emergency situations. Florida became one of the places Facebook activated its safety-check tool, which allows users in emergencies to mark themselves as safe on their profiles and share other information.

Other tech giants such as Airbnb and Uber also chipped in - the former encouraged hosts in Northern Florida and Georgia to make rooms on its site available for free to hurricane evacuees while the ride-sharing app provided Floridians free rides to shelters.

While there clearly are tremendous benefits that social medial can provide both the public and the emergency services agencies in times of a disaster, we also need to consider the dangers of misinformation that has potential to be spread just as rapidly.  This means that the emergency services will have to come up with a reliable way of monitoring the information that circulates on social media. Some agencies have already started to address this issue – a recent paper, presented at the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, discusses exactly that – the establishing of the new operational role within a State Control Centre in Victoria, Australia dedicated to obtaining situational awareness from social media to support decision making for emergency management. The authors of the paper state that by sharing our experience it is hoped other agencies will consider the value of adopting similar arrangements.

Written by: Simona Zukaite

Simona joined Akolade and relocated to Sydney after eight years in Hong Kong where she worked for a leading media and publishing company producing legal and financial conferences in Asia-Pacific. Simona studied Law in the UK, Paris and Hong Kong and found her passion for events after working on an international arbitration law conference and moot trial competition in Hong Kong in 2012. The recent move is the next chapter of adventures Simona has sought to pursue in Australia following the running of an annual FX investment conference in Sydney for three consecutive years.

21 November 2017

Risk management in the digital age

Author :
It’s no secret that new and emerging threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated, widespread and complex globally; As old-world and new-world challenges collide in today’s digital environment, it’s critical that organisations understand how to digitize their existing frameworks and transform current risk practices to reflect new threats.

Although organisations have become reasonably good at managing predictable, lower-level risks, many have a false sense of security about their ability to anticipate and deal with more hazardous fraud threats that evolve rapidly in a digitally-connected world.

Cyber attacks represent a present and growing danger that threatens businesses irrespective of size and sector.

The current size of the cyber breach and privacy market is expected to grow to approximately $5 billion over the next five years as the number of first-time purchasers increases at a rapid pace.
What’s critical, is that organisations embed Cyber-related risk mitigation efforts into their organisational risk management frameworks.

The Australian Cyber, Fraud and Risk Summit is a unique event that will explore some of the most exciting case studies and innovative strategies for responding to new and emerging threats in today’s digital landscape. With powerful keynote presentations and panel discussions from Australia’s leading Fraud, Cyber Fraud and Risk professionals, this event will address the most significant challenges and threats being faced today and uncover the knowledge, strategies and technology to mitigate and overcome them.

It’s a discussion not to be missed – we look forward to seeing you there!

Written by: Beth Hampton

Beth came to Australia in late 2016. Having spent some time travelling through Southeast Asia and briefly living in Singapore – she was ready to embrace the lifestyle of a working Sydneysider!Beth grew up in London, and completed her degree in Psychology at the University of York. She always dreamed of landing a job in the police, but figured it was worth swapping the handcuffs and late shifts for an exciting new city and a job full of fun and opportunity in a fantastic company like Akolade!
Beth loves cooking, playing the piano, terrible British soap operas, an ice-cold G&T and exploring new places.

17 November 2017

Antidote to Community Fear

Author :
We live in a globally connected world where extremism, in many forms (ideological, political, economic, social, and personal) is a constant threat to community safety.  This is why community safety is a key priority for all levels of Government, especially when major public events occur, such as the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, the Australia Open in Melbourne, and so on.  All forms of contemporary extremism begin with extreme views by people who, in the main, fall within the bell curve of psychologically ‘normal’ individuals.  This profile fits for right & left wing extremists, Jihadists, militants, activists, fanatics, zealots, fixated persons, active shooters, and cyber terrorists.

This ‘alarming normal’ profile presents a major difficulty when seeking to counter extremism in that holding ‘extreme views’ (cognitive radicalisation) does not automatically lead to ‘extreme actions’ (behavioural radicalisation).  There are multiple and complex factors dynamically at play which push ‘talkers’ towards becoming ‘doers’ of extreme violence.   Hence, to counter ‘extreme views’ that may lead to violent actions at public places and/or major events requires following a methodology  I designed as a 4D matrix for community security & safety.  It is illustrated in the figure below.
 As can be seen, security & safety are two sides of the same community coin.  The 1st and 2nd boxes deal with ‘Defining & Detecting’ the types of extremism and extremists you are interested in finding out more on from a ‘Security’ point of view.  The 3rd and 4th boxes are all about ‘Designing & Deploying’ appropriate strategies and staff (paid and volunteers) to monitor, report on, and take action, if necessary, at public events and public places where an emergent community threat is potentially possible.  This is the ‘Safety’ side of the matrix.  It is these ‘Safety’ dimensions of Design & Deploy which I wish to focus on for this rest of the article.
Of course, operationalising this 4D matrix is neither easy nor cheap.  The resourcing implications of trying to cover all this ground will break the piggy bank of most Governments, or at least put a serious financial hole in their budget.   However, if Governments fail to lead the way in mobilising community safety then the greater risk will be vigilante-style groups popping up in the community to take matters into their own hands.  This is a now an emerging trend in many Western democracies where ‘alarmingly normal’ citizens become engaged in sectarian hate groups against others they perceive as threats to their community.

How to best mobilise community resources is the key question?   Especially, since we all know that the safety of the community cannot be solely left to police and security agencies.  There will never be enough police officers and security personal on the streets, in shopping centres, parks, bikeways and beaches to observe and respond to the new and emerging threats. For instance, improvised and low cost weapons that can severely injure, mutilate, and kill scores of innocent people, who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.     

One potential way Governments can harness and steer community anxiety about extremist threats in a proactive and productive manner is through funding a broad range of small scale, grassroots community groups through a community-based network mechanism I designed called the ‘Safety Alert Volunteer Enterprise’ (SAVE).  My concept of SAVE is that of a self-evolving grassroots interconnected network of self-directed suburban neighbourhoods clustered around local Safety Alert Volunteer (SAV) teams dedicated to community safety for everyone in  their  geographical region.  This vision of SAVE builds on the notion of ‘citizen volunteerism’ which is a well-established principle in the Australian community as it is in many countries around the world.  For instance, many community-based organisations, supported by Government assistance, such as Crime Stoppers, Neighbourhood Watch, Surf Lifesavers, Lions Club and many others rely on volunteers donating their time, talents, and energy to provide various forms of much needed community service.

The mission of SAVE is to equip community members with established principles and protocols of situational awareness training to enhance their community vigilance and timely response notification capacity to assist police, security and emergency management agencies with emerging and imminent safety threats within their local community at public places and with planned public events.

To conclude, ‘SAVE’ proofing a community is best done by communities themselves.  This can be achieved by communities forming ‘community safety clusters’ of 3 to 5 geographically local suburban neighbourhoods connected to and supported, in an training and advisory capacity only, by an umbrella SAVE network.  Each of these community safety cluster’s would maintain their independent, self-evolving nature to decide what works best for them in the particular circumstances, conditions and constraints of their local community region.  Communities just need minimal funding from Government to equip them with the knowledge and skills of SAV training to kick start their community looking out for and taking care of one another’s safety, by themselves and for themselves.   

 SAVE is a community enterprise open to anyone who wishes to participate as a Safety Alert Volunteer (SAV).  Members of the community in any geographical location in Australia can register, via email, their interest in becoming a volunteer in the SAVE network ( ).

Guest blog written by: Dr Geoff Dean

Dr. Geoff Dean is CEO of the Safety Alert Volunteer Enterprise (SAVE) & Managing Director of the company Violence Prevention Consulting as well as Adjunct Professor at the Griffith Criminology Institute (GCI) and the Policy Innovation Hub at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. He is an international peer reviewer and guest editor for several prestigious journals, publishes extensively, and consults globally with police and security organisations.

14 November 2017

CCTV and Privacy

Author :
There are cameras all around us. ATMs, lifts, shops, traffic lights, parking stations all have cameras. Most of us even have a camera we regularly use on our phones. Everywhere we go there is potential that our movements are being recorded and monitored.
Most people accept this as being part of living in today’s world. We surrender some of our privacy in exchange for being able to conduct our lives without needing to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid this level of surveillance. However, the information being recorded is our personal information and for those public authorities owning and operating CCTV there are legislation and guidelines dictating how CCTV systems are to be used. In NSW this is found in the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (PPIPA), the Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 and the NSW Government Policy Statement and Guidelines for the Establishment and Implementation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in Public Places (2014). Other Australian states have similar legislation.
In 2013 the NSW ADT (SF v Shoalhaven City Council) found that the Council had breached section 10, 11(a), 12(c) of PPIPA and until the council could comply cameras had to be turned off.
Section 10 of PPIPA relates to requirements when collecting personal information. In this section reasonable steps must be taken to inform:
  •          information is being collected; purposes of collection;
  •          intended recipients of information;
  •          if supply is voluntary or not;
  •          right of access to information and correction;
  •          name and address of agency to hold the information.
The breach of section 10 related to signage. The ADT found that the signage was not sufficient to “ensure that individuals are made aware of all the information addressed by section 10” To comply the Council had to change their signage. 

Signs went from:

To this:

The original sign was no different from signs displayed by most Councils in Australia. Additionally, the Council needed to install signs under or near each camera.
The breach to section 11 (a) of PPIA. This section concerns the collection of information in that the information collected is relevant to the purpose of collection, not excessive, is accurate, up to date and complete. The ADT considered the majority of personal information collected by CCTV was “collateral” and not relevant to “crime prevention”. This refers to the collection of images of all people in a location even though they are not engaged in the act of committing a crime.
Compliance with this section required the NSW government to exempt local government from section 11 of the Act with respect to the collection of personal information.
The breach to section 12(c) related to procedural matters of how guidelines were being followed by Council partners when accessing the live feed. This was addressed by reinforcing with Police the access procedure.
The Council CCTV system was turned off for four weeks with cameras being gradually restored as signs were updated. Many other Councils would probably still have signage that doesn’t comply.

Guest blog written by:
Community Development Co-Ordinator, 
Shoalhaven City Council

A Community Development worker with 14 years experience in the field. A community builder who works alongside others to create great communities building on existing strengths and assets. A creative thinker and problem solver.

10 November 2017

Injecting innovation into the heart of Australian healthcare

Author :
Following the approval of Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy spanning 2018-2022, the healthcare sector now has a mandate for movement to digital platforms.

Hospitals around Australia are launching a number of innovative initiatives in line with the agenda which strives to “put the consumer at the centre of their health care and provides choice, control and transparency” according to health ministers.

Here are some of the most exciting projects of the year:
  •          St Vincent’s Melbourne trial of automation in microbiology lab
St Vincent’s Hospital is the first pathology lab in the world to trial new technology to automate the analysis of microbiology lab samples. The machine will improve the efficiency of microbiology labs and enable the faster diagnosis and reporting infectious diseases.
  •          Metro North Hospital and Health Service move to cloud platforms
Queensland’s largest public hospital and health service will migrate to the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform with the goal of improving patient care and the flexibility of delivering clinical information systems. According to Nutanix, “the platform is supporting around four times its previous workload and with additional capacity to spare.”
  •         The country’s most advanced digital hospital opens its doors
The $2.3 billion Royal Adelaide Hospital opened its doors in September boasting an array of digital equipment one would expect to see in the hospital of the future. Electronic tags keep track of equipment and patients, wireless patient nurse call system, electronic bedside devices, distributed medical imaging and self-service electronic kiosks is just some of the tech on hand, according to
  •          Artificial Intelligence which alerts citizens at risk
Clinicians and IT experts in South Australia have begun development of cloud-based AI which analyses health data and intervenes when it finds anything of concern. Country Health SA’s Integrated Cardiovascular Clinical Network is leading development of the platform which collates clinical data and conducts automatic health assessments.
  •          Lithgow hospital rolls out new x-ray technology
In an Australian first, the new x-ray technology will generate clearer images more quickly. Worth $700,000, the new machine exposes patients to drastically reduced levels of radiation and the images are often ready before the patient has even left the x-ray room.

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Senior Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.