Mark Champley

Learning & Development Associate People & Culture, Transport for NSW, AGSM Emerging Indigenous Executive Leader Program (2018)

Mark Champley, AGSM Maker, Hero Headshot
"AGSM gave me the confidence to persist and the tools to make it happen – especially stakeholder mapping. So, I had a well-structured strategy in place and knew who I needed to talk to."

Mark Champley
Learning & Development Associate People & Culture
Transport for NSW
AGSM Emerging Indigenous Executive Leader Program (2018)

Walking tall in two worlds

Mark Champley treads a lifelong path of growth and education.

This proud Kamilaroi man has seen and helped shape enormous change for during his career. 

He’s committed to building up the next generation of Indigenous leaders and his ongoing role at NSW Transport allows him to improve Indigenous equality and opportunity in the organisation. Specifically, supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff to prepare for and move into more senior roles.

His own journey began at Sydney Ferries in 1988. There, he discovered they’d had very few Indigenous workers – let alone an Indigenous engineer, master, or skipper – in almost 125 years. 

By the time Mark left in 2015, 5% of the workforce were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. Ferries were flying Aboriginal flags during NAIDOC week and the first Indigenous skipper was at the helm.

Today Mark’s also an AGSM Indigenous Adjunct Faculty. He runs the Aboriginal Career Development and Mentor Programme, in partnership with AGSM, for NSW Transport and is Manager Aboriginal Development (RAP) People & Culture Inclusion & Diversity Transport for NSW on the AGSM Emerging Indigenous Leader Program.

He’s proud of its success – with 50% of mentees moving into more senior roles in NSW Transport.

Learning to be a stronger leader

"At AGSM they talk about walking in two worlds - corporate world and community - but it's being able to walk and have a voice in both that matters."

Always a keen learner, Mark took part in a pilot AGSM program – the Aboriginal Career Development & Mentoring Program – in 2016 while he was still working on the ferries. This program won Transport for NSW the Australian Human Resources Industry (AHRI) 2021 in the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Employment Award. It also formed a case study in the 2021 State of the NSW Public Sector Report.

Stepping into higher education was a huge change after 27 years - challenging him to step up to leadership. Yet it turned out this was just the beginning for Mark and AGSM.

"The ACDMP pilot delivered by AGSM at Transport for NSW opened my eyes to the importance of a continuous learning journey. It fuelled a desire to step outside my comfort zone to develop and make a difference for my people."

Mark’s AGSM EIELP springboard 

Mark says joining AGSMs Emerging Indigenous Executive Leaders Program (EIELP) took learning to the next level for him.

EIELP offers executive level leadership development to high performing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander managers. Participants usually hold established management roles and are keen to realise their senior level potential.

"AGSMs EIELP is a game-changer: a leadership program focused on Aboriginal people, with 50% moving into more senior roles after participating. That’s unique."

Mark took on a strategic challenge focussed on the Stolen Generation as part of his EIELP experience. Specifically, the NSW State Government’s Unfinished Business Report which focused on healing. 

His work with many stakeholders resulted in a highly significant plaque installation on Platform One at Central Station, Sydney – the arrival point of many Stolen Generation children. 

The plaque is made up of paintings by Stolen Generation survivors, painted through their own eyes from when they were children. 

"Whenever I go to Central and see people reading the plaque, the hair on the back of my neck stands up and I know it’s changing mindsets."

Building confidence and persistence

Driving and managing this culturally and emotionally charged project challenged Mark to leverage all his AGSM learning. It also gave him a new ability to manage organisational complexity and both public and private sector stakeholders.

"AGSM gave me the confidence to persist and the tools to make it happen – especially stakeholder mapping. So, I had a well-structured strategy in place and knew who I needed to talk to."  

He describes AGSM’s Executive Education programs and working with indigenous Australians as transformational. 

"The AGSM EIELP alumni are a very powerful group of people who gather regularly to help each other progress in their projects and careers."

AGSM and applying the power of passion

Leadership takes more than tools and strategy. For Mark, it’s a combination of what’s he’s learned and experienced – infused with passion.

"If you're doing something that you're passionate about, that you really feel is going to make a difference, people will listen, and see it."

With Mark’s guidance, AGSM’s Indigenous mentorship programs are equipping more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to accelerate their careers and foster a collective sense of purpose. 

Perhaps even more importantly, mentorship works both ways sparking a growing interest in what the world’s oldest surviving culture can teach other Australians.

Mark often paraphrases Nova Peris’ evocative statement that "We don't want to take away the last 230-odd years. We want to give you 65,000 years." 

It’s a powerful perspective and one Mark’s using his AGSM learning and global alumni network to share.

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