Updating Results

Clean Energy Regulator

  • 100 - 500 employees

Julia Sheldrake

Being in a small agency gives you unique access to executives, and enables you to understand the whole organisation, not just what happens day-to-day at your desk.

What's your job about?

The Clean Energy Regulator’s key objective is accelerating carbon abatement in Australia. During my graduate year, I have contributed to this objective in a number of different ways, including assessing applications under the Emissions Reduction Fund, reviewing and analysing proposed new agency and departmental policy and legislation, and risk management of clients across schemes.

Day-to-day my work has varied a lot across rotations, but some commonalities between all three include:

  • Reading and analysing legislation
  • Drafting documents (and redrafting, and redrafting again!)
  • Coordinating internal cohesion on policies and processes
  • Project management
  • Administration
  • Process improvements brainstorming and implementation

The great thing about my graduate year in the Clean Energy Regulator is that it has empowered me to understand how the agency works at both a micro and macro level, and develop my understanding of Australia’s energy and environmental policy at the same time. There is no such thing as a typical day – one day I might be assessing a proposed new landfill gas project, another planning how to improve the agency’s internal compliance management, and another responding to complex legislative and scheme enquiries. Most importantly, the work my fellow graduates and I have ended up doing are catered to our skills and interests – this agency is interested in harnessing and developing the skills of its staff, which is great.

What's your background?

I grew up in Melbourne, and spent a fair proportion of my childhood accompanying my parents on work trips overseas. I studied at the University of Melbourne, and Keio University in Japan. During undergrad, I studied Japanese, and Anthropology and Social Theory, and in postgrad studied International Relations with a focus on public policy and social justice. Since finishing high school, I have lived in London, Tokyo, Melbourne, and now Canberra – and taken plenty of gaps between study to work and travel! My work experience is mostly in customer and client relationship management, via telemarketing.

I have always wanted to work in the public service, and applied to the Clean Energy Regulator to get some practical, hands on experience with the implementation and administration of government policy. I started here in February 2017 and have not looked back since!

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely. To be honest, I think my academic background is a little unusual for the Clean Energy Regulator. It is not a limitation to have an Arts background, but probably advantageous to have good technical and scientific knowhow, if not expertise. That said, I think being a generalist rather than a specialist puts you in good stead for working in the public service generally, and the Clean Energy Regulator specifically.

I think the most important skills to have in my role are:

  • Good communication and specifically writing skills
  • Adaptability
  • Good soft skills – people skills make a huge difference in any work place, but especially in a client oriented public service role
  • An eye for detail
  • Good organisation

What's the coolest thing about your job?

Being able to work with high level, experienced public servants regularly is fantastic. Being in a small agency gives you unique access to executives, and enables you to understand the whole organisation, not just what happens day-to-day at your desk. From a strategic development perspective those experiences are priceless.

It’s also really cool to see how my work is actively impacting the development of Australian laws, and achievement of our emissions reduction targets. It is a really important issue, and one that it feels amazing to be contributing to, even if in small ways.

What are the limitations of your job?

Never has my lack of technical and scientific expertise been more soundly challenged than this year! Environmental and energy science and policy are incredibly complex, so sometimes my attempts to understand everything I need to seems like an impossible task! It is a good intellectual challenge, but certainly does not make work easy. Relying on and trusting colleagues is essential for success – even for people who are technical experts.

Oh, and an important disclaimer: if you struggle with bureaucracy, and the idea of redrafting documents over and over again for multiple decision makers does not appeal to you, the public service might not be for you. The bureaucracy and revisions are there for a purpose, but can be frustrating at the best of times!

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Give yourself time to do your assignments! Marks are not everything, but if you do not give yourself enough time to do your work, you will let yourself down.
  • Do not forget about your hobbies and non-study interests. Travel, volunteer, play an obscene amount of computer games… not only are these things fun, they might help you out in the future.
  • Plan, plan, and plan some more, but do not take it too hard if things do not go your way. Plans are good, but only if they are flexible and adaptable!