Jane Reynaud joined the James Martin Institute for Public Policy (JMI) as Executive Director for Capacity-Building in April 2024. Jane brings nearly two decades of experience in the higher education sector and government. In this interview, she reflects on JMI’s role in building public policymaking capacity.

What is your professional background and how has it led you to joining JMI?

My professional career started nearly twenty years ago in the Australian higher education sector. Working directly for two Academic Deputy Vice-Chancellors at the University of Newcastle gave me the most unexpectedly invaluable foundations, as I worked on any topic or issue that came to our office across the academic, research or international education portfolios. I’ve since worked with a number of other universities, including UTS, University of Sydney, UNSW, University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University – all JMI partner universities – and I have also spent some time in the private sector, specifically in regional aviation and consulting.

Over the last decade or so, I have led strategic initiatives at the nexus of government, academia, industry and community, all very much focused on amplifying social and economic opportunity. I’ve really enjoyed that these have always been underpinned by a strong commitment to collaboration, and a shared willingness across the partners to do things differently in order to achieve new and impactful outcomes. Most recently, I served in executive roles in NSW Treasury, working as a senior advisor to three Secretaries, supporting the onboarding of the newly elected government in 2023, delivering the Treasury Department’s new corporate strategy and working alongside the Treasurer’s and Ministerial offices to manage the implementation of complex cross-sector delivery and reporting programs.

Joining JMI feels like a very natural progression of my career, and my new role driving collaboration and capacity-building with our partners will draw on the full breadth of my skills and experience. With my background in higher education and government, I’ve seen first-hand how much innovation can take place when successful collaborative models bring experts together.

What opportunities do you see for JMI to build the policy capabilities of its partners?

JMI is a unique entity. We’re founded on a collaborative commitment by government and universities, so we’re both independent but connected and proximal through our unique model to both public policymakers and academic experts. I see that interface as a major distinction for us as an organisation, and a big part of our ability to be genuinely agile and responsive to our partners’ needs and challenges.

Most government jurisdictions around the world agree that good policy drives better social outcomes, and a robust system of policy and decision-making relies on robust policy capacity. JMI is well-placed to leverage our partnership with government and universities, and bring them together in new ways to cross-skill, upskill, and deliver sustained capability uplift, anything from the practice of policymaking to sharing technical, evidence-informed expertise. We’re all living and working in a much more fiscally constrained context than we were a few years ago, and the sorts of challenges our society faces are complex and multidimensional. If there was ever a time to bring our largest publicly funded organisations together and collaborate in new ways to drive benefit and impact for our community, it’s now.

What are you most looking forward to about in working for JMI in the years ahead?

So many things! I’m looking forward to building a new portfolio with and for our government and university partners, and contributing to JMI’s growth and impact on public policymaking capacity. I’m energised to be driving that spirit of collaboration and cross-skilling, making it easier for government to access impactful academic research and evidence, and amplifying opportunities for our partner university colleagues to translate their work into tangible policy outcomes. The JMI team is really something – dynamic, passionate and deeply engaged. I’m very much looking forward further embedding myself in the team, and supporting the successes of all my colleagues, JMI and our partners.

Sign up for our newsletter

Be the first to receive updates on JMI projects, publications and events.