Jasmine Tackman’s career hasn’t been linear.

Before landing a role with the New South Wales Minister for Health and working through a global pandemic, she undertook a range of policy and government relations roles in Canada and Australia.

Today, she is helping drive better outcomes for Australians in her role as Senior Manager of Government Relations at a leading Australian superannuation company, Aware Super.

Tackman’s near 20-year career in government spans two continents and an array of industries.

Highlights include helping both Canadian and Australian transport sectors implement better policies; guiding the implementation of the Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW strategy on behalf of the Minister for Family and Community Services; and in 2017 working alongside the NSW Minister for Health in her role as Director of Policy. 

This broad experience across government and politics – and most recently in the corporate sector – has given Tackman a well-rounded perspective. It’s a unique view that has helped her become more inclusive and empathetic in her roles.

“Whatever your role is – adviser, government relations officer, or advocate – the functions are largely the same whether you're in politics, public service or the corporate sector. You're still getting on the phone and talking to people, trying to understand their perspective and challenges,” Tackman says.

Growing up in Ottawa (Canada’s national capital and home of the public service), she got a placement in the federal government straight after completing her diploma in public relations in 2004.

“I found the sector so interesting. You get to work on behalf of society and there are so many different interesting pathways you can take,” Tackman says.

“I realised policy work really fascinated me, because you get to be at the front end of designing systems that influence how people live for the better. Legislation and regulation are also meant to stand the test of time, which really appealed to me,” she explains.

“I like a challenge and have an active mind. I also like to understand how things work and why we do things as individuals and as a collective society. Finding answers and leaving the world a better place is what really motivates me.”

Improving patient experience in emergency departments

One example of how Tackman approached grass roots change was during her time in the NSW Minister for Health’s office. In 2017, Tackman and her team noted consistent feedback from the public about less-than-ideal emergency department experiences. Taking inspiration from Service NSW’s proven customer experience model, she started working on ways to create a more positive and unified experience across emergency departments.

After extensive research, site visits and consultation with various stakeholders including key partner Service NSW, Tackman and her team introduced the idea of a patient experience officer.

“As well as water stations, free WiFi and phone charging stations, our idea was to have a dedicated patient experience officer whose sole role is looking after people coming through to the ED. Speak to them on arrival, keep them informed and updated and make sure they understand everything – no matter what language they speak,” recalls Tackman.

Since an independent report into the project’s trial across four hospitals, the initiative has been rolled out in more than 80 NSW emergency departments. And in 2019, the Emergency Department Patient Experience initiative won the prestigious NSW Premier’s Award for world class customer service.

“What was initially designed to be a customer service improvement ended up reducing violence in emergency departments thanks to a better patient experience from beginning to end, she said.

The right toolkit for creating change

After nearly 20 years in government and politics, Tackman made the move to the private sector in 2023, after adding to her skillset with an AGSM MBA (Executive) to build on her knowledge and networks.

“An MBA gives you those tools and that language to communicate more effectively across an entire organisation. And it gives you a really great appreciation of how things work. It was the perfect complement to help me be better at what I do.”

Tackman says the MBA program also helped her look at things through a different lens.

“A policy idea might be great, but being able to quantify and assess trade-offs is incredibly valuable. And to do it using language that your stakeholders will understand is very important.”

Tackman regularly uses the tools and templates she learned through her MBA – from trying to understand behavioural aspects in the workplace, to stakeholder mapping and marketing.

“That's also really important in policymaking because you can have the best policy in the world, but if no one understands it, or even knows that it exists, it's hard to get lawmakers to listen to you and implement it,” she explains.

Addressing social challenges through super

At Aware Super, Tackman is working with the wider Government Relations team to advance government policies that support the interests of the organisations 1.1million members. This includes policies that promote dignified retirement, address the gender pay gap, move towards equity through reconciliation and act on climate change.

As many Aware Super members are women, and most from the public service sector, closing the gender pay gap is a key focus area for the company.

“They're in caring, education or health roles, where they don’t earn as much as those in the corporate sector. They also take breaks or work part-time to raise children or care for ageing parents. Plus, they’re subject to the gender pay gap,” Tackman says.

“All of this means they often don't retire with the same superannuation balances that men do.”

In the long run, this can significantly impact a woman’s retirement.

“We want to step in and make our members’ lives better, especially when they need it the most – in retirement,” explains Tackman.

“The challenge will be to work with lawmakers on what policies we need to tweak, what policies we need to introduce and what we need to do away with altogether because it’s not working for our society.”

One specific area Tackman and her team will focus on to help change the future for Australians is paid parental leave superannuation.

“We know that all too often when women take a break in their career to raise families, they don't get the same superannuation accumulation as their partner who is still in full-time work. We would like to see super paid on top of paid parental leave to help increase a woman’s super balance,” she explains.

Three steps leaders can take to work with government

Once leaders have identified the challenge they’re trying to solve and the outcomes and impact they want to see, Tackman says there are three steps that can help them work more successfully with the public sector:

  1. Build a case for change: Create an evidence repository to back up your claims and suggestions. Use ABS and other data points that are reliable, trusted and comprehensive and build a case based on these.

  2. Build alliances: Start working out who your stakeholders are. Is it the Australian public generally, or is it a subset of the public? Is it your members or clients? Who is aligned with the outcomes you want to see for your group? Who isn’t? And what can you do to change their mind and get them on board? Try to build up your alliances.

  3. Build consensus: This can be a challenging process, which can involve talking to politicians, different divisions and Government departments to work out modelling scenarios if needed. It could also involve talking to industry groups, or peak associations, patients or consumer representatives. Try not to make so many concessions that the impact you want to create is no longer what you will achieve.

Armed with a uniquely well-rounded perspective and experience, coupled with her MBA knowledge and toolkit, Jasmine is set to continue creating positive impact for Aware Super’s members and the wider society in Australia.

Find out more about AGSM’s MBA (Executive) Program and AGSM @ UNSW Business School.