Robert Hortle is inaugural Commissioner at Wage Inspectorate Victoria in Australia. His executive education experience includes attending Strategic Management of Regulatory Enforcement Agencies.
Why did you choose to attend a program at Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education?
As the first person appointed to my position at the Wage Inspectorate, I felt a responsibility to lay solid foundations that would set up the organization for sustained success culturally, strategically, operationally, and also in terms of the expectations I established for my leadership team.
From a regulatory perspective, this also meant ensuring the policies and procedures we were implementing followed best practices and incorporated new theories, strategies and approaches that would take advantage of the organization’s resources and provide value to the community.
Because Strategic Management of Regulatory Enforcement Agencies is a world-renowned Harvard program taught by Professor Malcom Sparrow, a leading regulatory expert, I was confident the experience would give me a broader world view of regulation and help me improve my performance and that of Wage Inspectorate.
How are you hoping to implement the learnings from your program at your organization?
Because the Wage Inspectorate is still so young, there are some areas of our practice I’m looking to refine and entirely new functions I would like to quickly create. The knowledge I gained in Strategic Management of Regulatory Enforcement Agencies, as well from my very knowledgeable global classmates, is helping me to ask the right questions at the outset of my new role, ensuring that what we are building will deliver on what the Parliament and the community expect of us.
The program has also helped me look at our strategic plan in a new light. It is always worth challenging your own ideas and assumptions and being open to new ways of working. The diverse perspectives of the regulators who attended the program ensured that there were plenty of different ways of working to interrogate, discuss and borrow from.
I have also shared the knowledge I gained with my team, from staff just starting out in their careers to seasoned practitioners. One thing I have tried to engrain in them is to see regulation as a profession that requires a specific set of skills - a concept Professor Sparrow emphasized that really resonated with me. This idea will shape the learning and development of all staff and enhance the way we attract and recruit new talent to our agency.
How would you describe the value of Executive Education to someone who is considering it?
For me, the experience was invaluable. The lectures I attended and the discussions with regulators from across the globe and with Professor Sparrow have had a considerable impact on both my leadership and regulatory practice.
Being away from home, immersing myself into a learning environment unlike any other, and collaborating with such a diverse cohort was both motivating and inspiring. It exposed me to so many fresh and unique points-of-view, which can be hard to come by when you’ve been in an industry for any significant length of time, and it made me more assured and thoughtful.
What do you hope to accomplish professionally in the future?
I hope to continue refining the regulatory practice at Wage Inspectorate Victoria and make sure it is among the most respected regulators in Australia, both with the regulatory community and the Victorian community we serve.
I’m also looking to refine my approach as a CEO and Commissioner so that I can apply a demonstrably successful strategy and approach in other settings and areas of regulation.
Of course, I also hope to someday make my way back to HKS Executive Education which will undoubtedly strengthen my skillset and contributions to the international regulators’ community.