We are an independent advisory practice that helps leaders and organisations align their “theory of the business” – mission, context and capabilities – to a very different and rapidly changing world.
We work at the intersection of public policy, management, strategy and leadership and technology to help organisations think, plan and execute.
Drawing on 40 years’ experience working in and with government, business and civil society organisations, we work across and often between sectors using a mix of design and facilitation, convening and connecting and writing and research.
Martin Stewart-Weeks, the founder and principal of Public Purpose, is a published author, analyst and facilitator. He has been a public servant, a Ministerial advisor and Chief of Staff. He held positions in the federal and NSW public sector and worked for Cisco’s innovation and strategy group for 12 years leading a practice across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
Public Purpose is based in Sydney.
Who We Are
Public Purpose is the advisory and strategy practice of Martin Stewart-Weeks, its principal and founder.
As well as his own consulting and advisory work, Martin has held advisory roles with PwC and Deloitte and chaired or been on the boards of think tanks, advisory groups and committees for state and federal governments and a range of civil society organisations.
Areas of focus in recent times include digital transformation, strategic thinking and planning for public sector organisations, management and leadership development, social care, cities and urban planning and learning and skills, including higher education.
Public Purpose is also an unusual and eclectic mix of connections and relationships with “public purpose” leaders, thinkers and practitioners across Australia and around the world.
On many projects over the past few years we’ve added value to the thinking and planning work of many organisations by connecting to this growing network of relationships to stretch, test and challenge strategy, organisational change and leadership both in their own right and in combination with others.
A strategic thinker, author and analyst, organisational consultant and facilitator, Martin’s work draws on 40 years’ experience spanning government and the social and corporate sectors.
As well as his own advisory, strategic, leadership and research work, Martin has worked as a senior advisor to Deloitte’s public sector team in Australia and with The Impact Assembly as part of PwC’s social impact practice.
He’s held roles in the Australian Public Service, as a Ministerial Chief of Staff and led a team of senior consultants and advisors working across Asia/Pacific as part of the public sector team of Cisco’s innovation and strategy practice.
Martin has worked on evaluation design and implementation for policy and service delivery at both national and state level. He has also worked extensively with public and nonprofit leadership on a range of organizational change and strategy projects, including policy reform, service design, governance and restructuring.
As an integral part of his work, Martin has developed across many sectors long-standing relationships of trust across an eclectic and growing network of policy, business, technology and civic thinkers, practitioners and leaders in Australia and globally.
Strategy and Policy Development
Martin’s work combines strategic thinking and analysis, the willingness to test and transcend “business as usual” and the ability to convene and facilitate eclectic, boundary-crossing networks of experience and expertise. He has developed a reputation for putting together “assemblies” of collective intelligence for impact and problem solving.
- In 2020, Martin was commissioned by the Queensland Department of Agriculture to design and facilitate two leadership sessions, one for the Department and one for Biosecurity Queensland, to challenge and shape the quality of strategic thinking about agriculture and biosecurity “futures” and how best to respond.
- In 2021, he worked with the CEO of the Australian Energy Market Commission and the senior leadership team to develop a more consistent approach to “strategic influence” in a policy environment characterised by volatile change, political contest and uncertainty.
- In November 2020, he was asked by the Secretary of the NSW Department of Customer Service to run a short session as part of her leadership offsite on digital leadership within the Department and across the NSW public sector.
- In March 2021, Martin was invited by the Dean of the ANZ School of Government, to design, facilitate and report on a workshop with the full executive team to review ANZSOG’s executive strategy and performance in the light of the new strategic plan.
- In 2020, Martin advised the Board of Trustees and the Vice Chancellor on strategy options for the post-COVID renewal and recovery for Western Sydney University, drawing on interviews with academics and professional staff as well as independent research and analysis.
Over many years, Martin has earned a reputation for effective design and facilitation of a wide range of small and large workshops, conferences and other collective strategy, innovation and organisational review projects.
- Design and facilitation of the 2021 Senior Management Group conference for 150 of Western Sydney University’s leaders, convened by Vice Chancellor Professor Barney Glover AO to explore the theme of “bold transitions” in the context of Sustaining Success, Western’s new strategic plan. Martin has contributed to the annual conference over several years, often playing a “critical friend” role to reflect on challenge the discussions and their outcomes.
- Design and facilitation of two workshops to determine the strategic priorities and direction for the newly appointed NSW Information and Privacy Advisory Committee
- Design, facilitation and production of a new strategic plan for the former Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy; this led to work in 2021, following the Queensland election and “machinery of government” changes, advising the new Acting Director General, Mike Kaiser, on the development of the new strategic plan for the successor agency, the Department of Resources.
- Led a major strategy refresh for the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission including, with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (tacsi.org.au) several design-led forums with Commission staff and external stakeholders. The project involved project design, extensive design-led stakeholder engagement and contribution, external analysis and research and drafting and editing with the CEO and other senior leaders.
- Design, facilitation, research and writing for a forum on improving data sharing and collaboration across jurisdiction boundaries for human services, now the People Centred Data Collaboration forum (senior representatives from state, Territory and federal human service agencies, convened by ANZSOG and the Director of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Barry Sandison).
- Design, facilitation, research and analysis for a series of roundtables on the changing relationship between government and the NGO sector, facilitating senior representatives from government and NGOs from across Australia, convened by then ANZ School of Government Dean Professor Gary Banks.
Advisory and Chair Roles
Martin has considerable experience as a Chair or member of several policy and advisory groups, boards and committees.
- Appointed by the Minister for Customer Service and Minister for Digital, Victor Dominello, to the NSW AI Advisory Committee NSW govt names inaugural AI committee members – Strategy – iTnews
- Chair, former NSW Digital Government Advisory Panel (DGAP)
- Chair, Expert Advisory Group for the Welfare Payments Infrastructure Transformation program or WPIT for the then Department of Human Services, now Services Australia advising the then Minister for Human Services and the Minister for Finance.
- Member, Independent Panel, Review of NSW Regulatory Policy, chaired by former NSW Premier Nick Greiner and whose final report provided the basis for the establishment of the NSW Productivity Commission Independent Review of the NSW Regulatory Policy Framework final report
- Member, Expert Advisory Group (Evidence and Insights), NSW Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment
- Interim Chair, Board Director and now Fellow, Centre for Policy Development cpd.org.au
- Board Director, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation tacsi.org,au
- Board member with the former Business/Higher Education Roundtable (including working with several Vice Chancellors and other university and business leaders, including UTS and WSU, on a business/university collaboration project, Australia Prospers (australiaprospers.com)
- Chair, States of Change About | States of Change (states-of-change.org)
Are We There Yet?
In 2019, Martin published a book, Are We There Yet? The Digital Transformation of Government and the Public Sector in Australia (Longueville Media, 2019).
The book, co-authored with Deloitte Digital’s Simon Cooper, explores the conditions in Australia for the effective digital transformation of government and the work of the public sector.
It explores the strategic and policy context for digital transformation, as well as the rising impact of new digital platforms and capabilities and their impact on the work of the public sector and the way the public sector works. The book provides a manifesto of practical proposals to extend the momentum for change and reform.
The book has been well received as a major contribution to thinking about digital transformation in government and the public sector both in Australia and around the world.
In 2020, Martin, co-author Simon Cooper and AFR Inside Government editor Tom Burton published a major feature in The Australian Financial Review extending some of the arguments and analysis from the book into an argument for a new framework, “Service 4.0”, for public service design and delivery.