Since I discovered what foresight was in 1999 and worked in two universities to help use foresight in strategy development, I have helped organisations build their capacity to be futures ready. I do this first by helping people change their mindsets to face the future, ready to adapt their thinking to take proactive responses to change today.
I worked in universities for 28 years and loved it but, in the end, I left because my foresight switch had been turned on. I wanted to use foresight in my work and I couldn't do that in universities as they existed then. But then, I was working from the inside out, now with this new site, I'm working from the outside in.
After 10 years of being a generalist, and prompted by by PhD studies, I've returned to my specialist area of knowledge, expertise and passion - universities and their futures.
Am I a futurist? No ...
Probably as a result of the reaction from people who should have known better when they heard my new title of Director, Foresight and Planning Unit at Swinburne University, I write foresight practitioner and researcher when I have to indicate what I do. This may seem like semantics, but it's an important point for me. Anyone can call themselves a futurist and many are honestly little more than faux futurists. I don't particularly want to be associated with 'futurists' who make predictions and provide ready made answers. Many of my colleagues use professional futurist and that makes a lot of sense, but for me 'futurist' brings with it connotations of certainty and predictability that are unhelpful if we are to be open to the future.
I use the same sort of tools and methods my futurist colleagues use. My aim is not to tell you what I think your future of university will be (I don't predict), but rather to help you work that out the best action you can take today to be prepared for the future individually and organisationally. My interpretation of your future matters less than using your knowledge, experience and intuition to build your capacity to be futures ready and to make futures facing decisions today.
There's a good article about terminology called Futurist, futurologist, foresight practitioner, visionary, foresighteer: what’s in a name? by Vanessa Cartwright on futurist Ross Dawson's website. It's worth a read if you are interested in why we label ourselves as we do.
What I do
While I'm still doing my PhD, I know I can help people in universities re-frame strategic conversations about the future using foresight and integral futures. My aim is to contribute to the conversation or discourse about the future of the university - to expand our mindsets about possible futures rather than assume our only option is to resist the present, although that's always a viable course of action. I want to integrate the future into our strategic thinking about the future university.
My University Career
I held management positions in universities and TAFE (Technical and Further Education) institutes in Australia for 28 years, starting my career as a Graduate Clerk in a faculty at Griffith University in Brisbane.
I then worked at La Trobe University, Footscray College of TAFE, Chisholm Institute of Technology and Monash University (following a merger), Swinburne University of Technology and finally Victoria University. Read the details in my resume.
During that career, I managed large faculties and university planning units, and spent a fair bit of time in central governance and student administration units. I designed and led major change processes including organisational restructuring, process and functional reviews, developed and managed university planning and quality frameworks, managed quality systems and audits and worked with staff to develop positive and supportive work cultures.
That career gave me significant experience and expertise in both how organisations work and 'think' and how to develop strategy that is meaningful and futures ready. Those many years of immersion in strategy processes, some of which I helped to design, review and improve, has built my commitment to ensuring participative and inclusive conversations about the future as the starting point for becoming futures ready.
My Thinking Futures Career
With Thinking Futures, I've been able to translate my understanding of building strategy in the complex, often anarchic and diverse organisations that are universities to other sectors and industries. Read more about who I've helped to use foresight in their organisations.
I focus now on helping people realise the power of their foresight agency as the starting point to become futures ready today, ready for whatever future emerges. I enjoy working with, and bringing practical outcomes to the work of people who care about their organisation's future in a complex and uncertain world.
Some Random Facts About Me
- I grew up in North Queensland and progressively moved south - to Brisbane to go to university and to Melbourne when I got married. We've had two children here and it's home for us.
- We live in an old Victorian terrace house in inner Melbourne. I love this city. Besides, Queensland is too hot!
- I drink too much tea, but I don't care. And it's ordinary black tea, none of these new fangled teas for me.
- I have anxiety as a close friend but I deal with it 99.9% of the time. Ask me about it some time.
- I hate the phone - an intrusive device I believe - and answer it only when I have to. Email is better or even a text message, or a Facebook message, or a Twitter message - you get the idea.
- The previous point should have been a signal that I'm an introvert.
- I love to travel and keep a journal at Maree's Travels, my photos on SmugMug. One big trip a year is my rule and I really like cruising (yes really!). The photo here is taken from a cruise to Iceland in 2017 while we were at sea.
- I am a INTJ and an Enneagram Type 5.
- I love books - fiction (crime fiction - yes really!) and non-fiction (anything that helps me learn how to be a better person in life). I read or listen to books every day. I get stuck in deep dives into what's new though and have to remind myself to come back to reality.
- My two sisters and I are on our own now, and my older sister keeps reminding us of the power of family. A good message.
- I have a small circle of good friends - and that's perfect for me.