Tell us about yourself?
Well, I am a member of the InfoGov ANZ Advisory Board, but I am also a NSW Branch Councillor, Fellow and Life Member of Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia (RIMPA) and a Fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia and the Chartered Governance Institute.
I have over 30 years of experience in the various information disciplines both here in Australia and the United Kingdom and for almost the last the 25 years I have been responsible for implementing records and information management programs in State and Australian public sector agencies. I have also been a Casual Lecturer in the Information and Knowledge Management Program at the University of Technology Sydney for the last 10 years.
I am also a bit of a perpetual student (or have been since 1998 when I started my Bachelor’s degree part-time). I have been studying part-time on and off for the last 20 years or so. I recently (and some might say finally) completed my PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences in August 2020.
Let’s just say I am now looking forward to catching up on reading a few good books for pleasure (currently reading the Strike series of novels) and binge-watching Game of Thrones from the very beginning (I’m just starting Season 8).
Tell us about your PhD research?
My PhD research looks at the information practices of four case study agencies in the Australian Government and particularly explores how the concept of record is understood and constructed by those outside the recordkeeping professions.
It will come as no surprise to many of you that different organisational and professional cultures, situated forms of knowledge and systems and technologies all play a mediating factor in how this term is applied and used in the practice of record-keeping across the Australian Government.
My thesis is rather aptly titled Records are practices, not artefacts.
What led you into the world of Information Governance (IG)?
I am not sure anything “led” me – I think things just evolved that way. I began my working life in libraries and then moved into records management roles in the late 1990s. These records roles were positioned as more legal and compliance-oriented and happened to be within the corporate governance areas of the public sector agencies in which I worked. So, given my own interests and aptitude, my role and perspective over time morphed more into a blend of records and information management and broader corporate governance well before IG was even a “thing”.
I mean, from my perspective, it is easy to see how the two were linked and really supported and framed one another. IG was simply a logical extension of my own experience and education as both a records and information professional and a governance professional, given that I have also had broad experience across a range of information functions such as privacy and freedom of information, in addition to records. After all, it is not unusual for records / information managers, in the public sphere at least, to get “given” responsibility for anything even vaguely records/information-related – we’re a flexible lot in that regard.
Tell us about your current role in IG?
I have recently taken on a more generalist management role. I guess you could say that I am now a strategically well placed and influential advocate for IG, rather than a full-time practitioner. But since it is has been my career for the last 30 years I am still very much keeping my hand in – participating on the Advisory Board of InfoGovANZ and the Branch Council of RIMPA in NSW are two of the ways I do that. I am now also starting to think about preparing parts of my PhD for publication and think that publishing articles and thought leadership might be more of the way I contribute to IG going forward rather than in the “doing”.
What are the biggest developments you have seen in the IG?
I think the evolution of the field itself as a super-discipline is probably the biggest development. The corresponding models and thought leadership around the field itself are still maturing and developing and it will be good to see whether a body of knowledge develops around IG itself and how the various disciplinary lenses are integrated into a cohesive whole – or even whether that is desirable or possible.
Do you have any tips for someone starting out in IG?
I think the key skills for IG practitioners are some of the ‘soft’-skills over and above any technical skills of the discipline. But since it’s a multi-disciplinary field and a relatively fledgeling one, the broader your knowledge of the information disciplines is the better. So take the opportunities to learn and expand your knowledge across the fields – don’t confine yourself to one silo. You definitely also need resilience and the ability to sell or influence key decision-makers on the value of IG. Passion for your field goes a long-way to sustaining and assisting you in that regard. Be passionate and purposeful.
Why it is important to be a member of InfoGov ANZ?
It’s important because it truly is a cross-disciplinary group that is open to, and considers, the various different professions’ perspectives across the broad spectrum of IG work. In that sense being on the Advisory Board allows me to not only represent perspectives from my own background and experience but also to learn from the other members of the Advisory Board and International Council. I also think the International Council adds a great perspective to the global nature of the issues. I know from doing my PhD that participating in a global network of scholars was particularly helpful and motivating, and I think that having access to the same via InfoGovANZ is a great thing and speaks volumes about the credibility and stature of such a new organisation and the regard in which it is held globally.