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Luke Raffin was only two years into his career

at BCG when he was seconded to Cape York for

six weeks. After his secondment he completed a

Master of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy

School of Government. He went on to work for

Tony Blair Associates as an adviser to the Prime

Minister in Mongolia and then to the Prime Minister

in Haiti. He now works as a consultant for BCG.

He reflected on the influence of his secondment

experience on his career progression to date:

Becoming a leader

Steph Stokes from NAB had a very

personal reason for applying for

a Jawun secondment. ‘I had my

daughter when I was 17. People

may have looked at me and

thought, “Young mum—probably

going to live off welfare for the

rest of her life.” When I learnt more

about Indigenous disadvantage,

it made me angry. I wanted to

share that if you have the right

support around you and people

who believe in you, you can do

whatever it is you want to do; you

can get what you want out of life.’

Steph’s secondment in mid-

2014 took her from Melbourne in

Victoria to the West Kimberley

in Western Australia, where she

worked with the Beagle Bay

Women’s Group for six weeks.

She was willing to go to a remote

community, even though it took

her away from her three children.

‘My husband was very supportive

… I think if you take yourself out of

it and even the kids out of it, it’s

a small sacrifice for everybody to

make for such a bigger, significant


The six-week secondment had

a profound impact on Steph,

challenging her to come out of her

shell and build new relationships.

‘It was like growing up,’ she

said. During her time with the

Beagle Bay Women’s Group,

she developed skills in external

stakeholder management and

self-leadership. ‘It’s all autonomous

work, so I learnt how to manage

many, many moving parts.’

Steph came back to NAB feeling

significantly more confident in

her abilities, which enabled her

to embrace new opportunities. ‘A

couple of months after I got back

from secondment, I was asked to

do a presentation for 70 leaders

for direct business down at the

convention centre. I thought,

“Wow, I have never done anything

like that before.”’

Steph’s increased confidence and

competency did not go unnoticed

by her managers: she has been

promoted twice within NAB in the

last 12 months. ‘When I came back

home, I was really looking for what

that next step was. An opportunity

opened up in our Indigenous

team—a consultant role managing

our traineeship program. I applied

for the role and I got it, which was

just amazing as I know there was a

really strong pool of candidates.’

The role was a secondment to fill

a maternity leave position, and

Steph has since been promoted

again to the role of Business Unit

Manager. ‘I think seeing the change

in me going away and then doing

the employment consultant role

was what gave [my managers]

comfort that I was ready for

this role.’

Steph now manages eight direct

reports who are all team leaders.

‘Basically, I’m a leader of leaders,’

she said. She attests that her

secondment experience has

influenced her leadership style.

‘As a leader, my personal goal is to

see the best in people, to see the

potential … The Jawun secondment

was a really good opportunity to

see that. When you think about it

from an Indigenous perspective,

about the disadvantages and

stereotypes they face, sometimes

they just needed someone to

say, “You can do this!” It’s the

same here. All our guys are super

capable, but you have to tap into

what motivates them—why are

they here, what do they want to

get out of it and where do they

want to go.’

I think Jawun was a factor in the trajectory, both

because it really doubled my interest in these

types of problems—how you help people’s lives

improve by giving them more opportunities—but

also made me realise again the importance of

understanding why people behave the way they

do and what their incentives are, and what are

the barriers to them accessing opportunity. I think

the secondment was a foundation experience.