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ACT Public Service

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4.0
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Laura Rayner Smith

I chose the ACTPS because I am really driven to make a difference to the community around me. The things I do during the week influence the things I’ll see around me on the weekend.

What's your job about? 

Rotation One: Financial Applications Support Team (FAST), Shared Services.

My team was responsible for the management of (unsurprisingly) Financial Applications. I learned all about how the financial systems used in the Directorates interact with the central system used by CMTEDD and helped to ensure that all the information for Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable got where it needed to go. I also helped process salaries each fortnight, ensuring that they all journaled correctly.

I was also fortunate to be involved in helping write some user guides and sit in on some meetings around a new Financial Application that we were hoping to roll out across Whole of Government. It was a little peek into the procurement world…

Rotation Two: Goods & Services, Procurement ACT

Procurement doesn’t always sound exciting, but nothing gets my blood pumping more than the policies and processes of Procurement. We are responsible for spending public money, so it’s really important that it is done the right way! Alongside the G&S team, I worked on Procurements of values more than $100,000 with a number of Directorates. It is fascinating what the ACT Government needs to purchase, anything from equipment for hospitals to support services for the jail.

During my placement I worked on three procurements from start to finish, which gave me not only great insight into the procedures of procurement and tender assessment, but also a lot of background on why we were buying what we were.

Rotation Three: Governance, Compliance and Legal Services, EPSDD

What's your background? 

I grew up in Maitland NSW and started my tertiary education at Newcastle University. I started out doing a Bachelor of Science/Mechanical Engineering degree, and discovered that I hated technical drawing. I then moved to a Bachelor of Science with a major in Physics. Despite my love of Space Physics and Lasers (I still have my lab reports as mementos) I felt really lost and deferred for two semesters in 2013. I worked full time in retail, then after a lot of soul searching, I realised that face-to-face university wasn’t the ideal learning environment for me. I returned to studying – but this time through the University of Southern Queensland, part-time, online, and a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting). Turns out I really love budgeting!

In 2015 my now-wife got a job in Canberra teaching, so we moved ourselves down here, along with our two dogs and a cat. I was able to transfer to the corporate side of my company and was first exposed to the Public Service while I was working in ICT Sales as a Team Assistant. I kept studying, and finally finished my degree in 2019 after 7 long years of being a university student. I had a friend who did a Graduate Program and loved it, and he had since moved over to the ACTPS and encouraged me to apply. I applied to as many Grad Programs as I could and was ecstatic when the ACT Government wanted me and started the ACTPS Grad Program in 2020.

What characteristics or skills should someone have when it comes to your job? 

It’s cliché for a reason – but a positive attitude and willingness to try new things. As a graduate it’s important to ask to work on as many projects as you can and be willing to make mistakes. Not that much of the work I’ve been doing is directly related to my degree, and it is really providing the opportunity to develop myself professionally.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The obvious cool thing about being a Graduate is the opportunity to do three jobs in a year. Being able to ask questions without fear of them sounding silly, especially when I follow it up with “Oh I’m a Graduate” is also very cool.

What are the limitations of your job? 

As a public servant, there is a level of responsibility and scrutiny I didn’t experience in the private sector. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does have a big impact on the work we do and how we do it.

Something I’ve been told multiple times is “don’t do anything that you wouldn’t want on the front page of The Canberra Times” which I use as a baseline for every email I send. Especially as a Procurement Officer, every decision and every report must be written in a way that justifies spending (or not spending) public funds.

What is the most interesting thing you have worked on in your career with the ACTPS so far? 

One standout moment for me would have to be in my second rotation in Procurement, when Request for Tender documents that I wrote were published on Tenders ACT. I sent a link to my mum and sister because I thought it was so cool!
I then was able to follow that same procurement through to the assessment, and wrote up the Tender Evaluation Report, which is what is sent to the executives before approval to proceed is given.

Something that I wrote is something that was published, something that tenderers read and decided to submit a response to, and something that the ACT Government then made a purchasing decision on. It’s a little surreal to think that something I was working on is now something that is going to make a pretty big impact on my community.

Why I chose the ACT Public Service 

I chose the ACTPS because I am really driven to make a difference to the community around me. The things I do during the week influence the things I’ll see around me on the weekend.

I’ve found the culture in the ACTPS to be incredibly inclusive. As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I’ve worked in places before that are inclusive just on paper, but not in practice. It feels like the ACTPS has inclusion as part of its DNA, and I feel valued.
I would recommend the ACTPS to anyone who wants to be able to actually see and experience the impact their work has.

What are 3 pieces of advice you would give yourself when you were a student?

  • Show some compassion towards yourself – by trying to push through burn out you are just going to make it worse
  • Call your mum more, she misses you
  • Buy some bitcoin while it is still $30